Though it is one of the most broadly followed “diets” in the world, dairy-free has frequently been misunderstood and cast into the shadows of vegan, gluten-free, and paleo living. But what I noticed at the 2014 Expo West was how the dairy-free industry was finally coming into its own.
There were cookies that staff members eagerly shared as dairy-free, even though they contained eggs and wheat. The number of cheese alternatives doubled since last year, with new innovative, all-natural options. Unique new forms of dairy-free protein eclipsed whey in every offering, from bars to powders. And So Delicious Dairy Free stood like a beacon of grandeur in the center of it all, showcasing their new ice creams, coffee drinks, and their bevy of creamy dairy-free offerings.
The line for freshly made dairy-free coffee drinks, from cappuccinos to mochas, at the two-story So Delicious Dairy Free both – later a happy hour show hot spot.
The enormity of their vibrant booth, and the liveliness and cheer of every staff member, made me proud to be a part of it all. It was literally the busiest booth that we witnessed, even before they opened their happy hour bar.
Adoration for this bourgeoning sector was more than evident at the world’s largest natural food show, but the USDA has offered proof of this dramatic beverage shift. According to their research, cow’s milk consumption fell approximately 25 percent in the United States from 1975 to 2012, with the biggest declines occurring in the most recently reported years, as milk alternatives like almond milk have gained steam.
Brittany and Hilary of the So Delicious team, proudly serving up dairy-free beverages and ice cream and having waaaay too much fun!
Some say it just TASTES BETTER. I personally agree, as does my household, and ample people in my community. Every time we shop, I see almond milk and coconut milk beverage in various carts, with nary a jug of cow’s milk in site. I’ve also had trouble with purchasing my favorite dairy-free ice cream, as the store says they can’t keep it on the shelves. It doesn’t take a multi-year survey to tell me that people are choosing milk alternatives.
For many, it’s a GENERAL HEALTH play. For years, cow’s milk has touted itself as the ultimate food for bone health, but several studies have shown otherwise. In fact, the highest hip fracture rates (often seen as a primary consequence of osteoporosis) occur in Scandinavian countries and the United States and the lowest in African countries. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the U.S. are all among the top consumers of cow’s milk per capita. Yet many African countries don’t even make it onto the charts as their milk consumption is so low. Dairy consumption has also been linked in studies to some hormone-dependent cancers and obesity. Millions of people aren’t buying it anymore, the claims or the milk, and are going dairy-free.
Of course, the ELEMENT OF NECESSITY should not be overlooked. Milk allergies from mild to life-threatening are a reality with digestive conditions like FPIES and EoE now emerging in kids and adults. Lactose intolerance, though not a true “danger” as far as the research shows, prompts millions to make the switch.
People are becoming more aware of their ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT. Many consumers are picking dairy-free specifically to reduce their personal impact on the earth. For concerns about dairy milk, milk alternatives, and the environment, see this article: How Sustainable is your Milk?
I certainly respect, and even have experience with, a plethora of diets that possess dairy-free as a recommendation, including vegan, gluten-free/casein-free, paleo, and multiple food allergies. But whether you are choosing dairy-free or dairy-low for one of these reasons, or one that I mention above, enjoy it and SHARE IT. Use the hashtag #dairyfree to share your dairy-free finds, recipes, and thoughts on every social network.
This post was sponsored by So Delicious Dairy Free, but the writing is my own (I went rogue!) and the thoughts and facts are ones I personally chose to share. To see what So Delicious is up to and learn about new products in the dairy-free industry, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.