This is the first of two posts evaluating the viability of nut-based fake cheese.
Milk consumption in the United States is falling faster than a Holstein with a defective parachute, and alternative milks—from soy milk to pea milk—are a big reason why.
How obsessed is America with alternative milk? New York City recently experienced an oat milk shortage… and there was widespread panic.
The dairy lobby was uncomfortable with these developments. So they fought back.
In January 2017, a bill—co-sponsored by Idaho’s own Jim Risch—appeared in the United States Senate. It was called the DAIRY PRIDE Act.
Why is DAIRY PRIDE in all caps? Because it’s an acronym: Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese To Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Everyday Act
The DAIRY PRIDE Act would compel the FDA to crack down on “misbranded milk alternatives”, and prevent them from using the word ‘milk’ to market their products.
You see, companies have been marketing plant-based beverages as ‘milk’ for decades, but they’re not technically milk according to the FDA’s definition.
According to the FDA, milk is the “lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows.”
And by that definition, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk and pea milk, well, they aren’t milk at all. But it’s not really clear what else we could call them… almond drink? oat beverage? pea juice?
The DAIRY PRIDE Act never went anywhere in the Senate. But it still managed to ignite a cultural and political war.
And then in August, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, shocked the nation when he declared that “an almond doesn’t lactate.”
His statement seemed to presage a brutal crackdown on alternative milk. No Senate bill needed.
But plant-based milk lovers had another trick up their sleeve. They started selling ‘an almond doesn’t lactate’ t-shirts.
I am still serious.
The FDA, hoping to prevent riots, is now asking for formal comments from the public. From now until November 27, you can rant directly to the government about pea milk.
Who says democracy is dead?
All of this is amusing. But here’s the real question: why is the dairy industry so afraid of a few freakin nut milks?
And here’s my answer: because nut milk—and nut cheese—are getting really, really good. Like, you might start saving dairy for special occasions.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about in Part 2. ∎