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Who ever invented ice cream was really onto something big. This creamy, frozen, sweet, and tasty treat is eaten all over the world in a variety of different ways. From gelato cups and spoons in Italy, to fruit flavored frozen yogurt cups in Southeast Asia, to sweetened cold milk drinks in Mexico, and finally to plain ol’ vanilla ice cream in the United States, cold or frozen milk, cream, and sugar is one combination you just can’t go wrong with. After all, who doesn’t like something that’s sweet and creamy?
Well, it turns out a lot of people don’t — at least when if the milk and cream used to make it comes from a cow.
As the popularity of plant-based diets and lifestyles continues to grow, and as more and more are becoming aware of its health and environmental benefits, ditching dairy is cooler than ever. For cheese, milk, butter, and ice cream lovers, the thought of cutting out or even reducing the consumption of some of their favorite foods is enough to scare the spots off a cow, but in reality, consuming dairy products in a developed country such as the United States with easy, safe access to nutrition is a matter of choice and taste, and not a necessity. In fact, human beings are the only animals to drink the milk of another animal. Kind of weird huh, especially since many people continue drinking milk well into adulthood.
But cutting out or reducing dairy offers a variety of benefits that many people feel outweigh the momentary pleasure of it tasting good. For example, most people haven’t met their meat, meaning they have little to no idea where the meat and animal products they consume actually come from. Of course most people — hopefully — realize that dairy comes from a cow, but very few people realize the atrocities that take place within the meat and dairy industries. It’s no secret that animal abuse runs rampant at these farms, with factory farm animals being subjected to a lifetime of abuse, mishandling, mistreatment, pain, and torture. The picturesque images of milk maidens happily milking cows by hand in lush green pastures if a far cry from the harsh reality endured by dairy cows.
But aside from ethical reasons, reducing or eliminating dairy from your diet also has a variety of environmental benefits as well. Did you know that agricultural run off from factor farms, which is rife with potentially deadly E. Coli bacteria, toxic pesticides, and harsh chemical contaminants, is one of the leading causes of water contamination? Furthermore, raising cows for milk and meat requires large amounts of land and takes a heavy toll on the environment between the use of harsh chemical fertilizers, pesticides used on the corn used as feed for dairy cows, as well as the methane gas produced by the cows themselves. When the demand for dairy products such as ice cream goes down, so does the environmental impact of the dairy industry.
But thanks to this little thing called cognitive dissonance or even simply not caring, most people are unaware of these things. What people are aware of, however, is the health of their own bodies. Cutting out dairy has several health benefits, and instead of being the latest diet fad to hit, many people are approaching the elimination of dairy products as a means of investing in their health for the long term. Health is wealth after all, and without it you can easily be and feel broke. For many people, cutting out or reducing dairy products is a great way to transition into living a completely plant-based lifestyle, which has proven to be extremely sustainable.
The health benefits of cutting out dairy are endless, but the common ones experienced by dairy free dieters include improved digestion, easier to pass bowel movements, weight loss, lower cholesterol, lowered risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer, and then of course there’s clearer skin. Aren’t these health and wellness benefits better than ice cream? Also keep in mind that are several tasty vegan alternatives that are just as creamy.