Got Milk? Why Is There Milk In Everything?

Vegans reject milk … and when someone decides to be vegan it’s natural to start looking more closely at those ingredients labels on the products we buy. That’s when you start to realise there’s milk in so many more products than you thought. So why is there milk in everything? I was genuinely shocked when I learned the extent of its ubiquitous use across the food industry.

Why Is There Milk In Everything?

 Mainly because the dairy industry was heavily subsidised in the post war years and huge stockpiles of dried milk powder and cheese needed to be dealt with. Food manufacturers could easily make larger profits using this cheap, excess dairy produce even though, in reality, plant based ingredients are cheaper to produce. 


Watch: Vox explains how big government helps big dairy push milk

(an excellent and concise look at why milk is in so many products!)


Related: “What Is Februdairy?” (4 minute read)


Do We Need Milk In So Many Products?

You’ll find it in everything from crisps (potato chips) to cookies to chewing gum, believe it or not. But is it actually needed in all these products?

Well, clearly not … because with the rise and rise of veganism, we’re seeing the market respond and introduce milk-free versions of pretty much every product you can think of.

There was a time, not too long ago, when I’d have to reject those salt and vinegar crisps in our local discount supermarket because of the cow juice in there.

Vegan friendly options were few and far between.

Then one day, that very same product didn’t contain milk any more … along with almost the entire range of those products. Happy days!

Some bright spark had obviously realised they were excluding a group of consumers of sufficient size to impact their bottom line. Removing the milk likely had no impact on a non-vegan’s choice to buy after all.

While it’s a crying shame that everything in consumerland has to be driven by rates of profit and shareholder dividends, it is also the most powerful tool we have at our disposal, as vegans.

Eliminate your own demand for products embedded with cruelty and this, in turn, shapes the decisions of those feeding the market.

This is why we’re seeing more and more plant-based options available and the explosive growth of vegan friendly products is truly eye watering.


Dairy Subsidies & War Legacies

Times are changing but old habits die hard and the primary reason we still see milk in so many products is actually a throwback to World War 2.

Black and white image of a dairy cow in the post WW2 era. Yep … an 80 year old legacy!

In the UK and the US dairy production was ramped up significantly to support the war effort. Many farmers switched from arable to dairy at the behest of the government.

They were guaranteed a good price for their white gold through subsidies which continued long after the war was over and demand had dropped back to normal levels.

The government simply bought up all the surplus dairy which farmers were unable to sell and this created a huge over-supply. What could they do with all that milk?

Well it just so happens that industrialisation of food production started to increase rapidly in the post-war years. Mechanisation opened up new options to add ingredients to our food which otherwise would never be in there.

The government saw an opportunity to get rid of their huge surpluses of milk which they had stored in powder form as well as making cheese with it.


The Age Of Ultra Processed Food

When multiple unrelated ingredients are combined into a product which traditionally may have contained only one or two, it can be classified as ultra processed food (UPF).

A great example is potato chips. Here’s a product which could easily just comprise potatoes and a little natural flavouring.

But we’ve ‘progressed’ to the point where all kinds of chemicals and other ingredients like maize and corn can be blended together in a slurry and reformed into something that resembles the potato chips of old.

In these processes it’s simplicity itself to add milk powder or cheese based ingredients into the mix. It’s the perfect way to reduce those dairy surpluses and governments made it very attractive for food producers to use these ingredients.

So this is why we find milk in everything today. Well … not everything but you get the point.

It was purely down to outdated government policies which artificially kept the dairy industry afloat. Plant based alternatives are actually cheaper to use when direct comparisons are made but the powers that be ensured dairy was the more economic option.

In the immortal words of Laurel & Hardy, “That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into!”.


Plant-Based: Driving The Food Revolution

The dairy industry is running scared. Those in the know can see the writing on the wall.

Man with his hands in the air and a scared look on his face. Those still desperately clinging to the past are ‘fighting back’ with advertising campaigns attempting to promote dairy … obviously ignoring the abhorrent cruelty embedded in the industry.

A recent example is the ‘Wood Milk’ advert featuring actress Aubrey Plaza. It’s an embarrasingly misguided attack on plant based milk products trying to make out that cow’s milk is the only real and natural milk.

Needless to say it backfired dramatically and Plaza actually lost a lot of her devotees as a result. It’s simply another desperate chapter in the dairy industry’s inevitable demise.

I could easily write another 1000 words on why dairy is so wrong, from an ethical and a health point of view. But no need because our article: “Why Are Vegans Against Milk?” explains the reality pretty well.

(just be warned, the video on that page does contain some very graphic footage)


Vote With Your Wallet

The easiest way you can reject the horrors of the dairy industry is to use your consumer buying power to drive change.

If you don’t buy products with milk, cheese and yogurt in there, you are not creating the demand which perpetuates the cycle of violence.

This is what veganism is all about.

Most normal people are repulsed when they see the truth behind that pint of milk. The video mentioned above shows you the truth. But you don’t have to be the one responsible for the abject cruelty endemic in the industry.

The word ‘vegan’ has a lot of negative connotations these days but our movement comes from a place of love and respect for the animals we share this planet with.

Non-violence has to be the way forward because we’re living through the consequences of the alternative now … environmental damage on a global scale. Not to mention the spiritual damage.

I urge you, at the very least, to consider reducing your demand for dairy (and meat). Ideally you’ll switch to 100% plant based sooner rather than later.

Our children’s future depends on it.


I hope this article has gone some way to answering your question today. We always appreciate a share on the socials (use the buttons below). If you have any questions or further thoughts please leave a comment below … we always reply.

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Thanks for reading and have a peaceful day.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio



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