What Is Milk, Anyway?

Plant‐based milks such as almond milk, soymilk, coconut milk, hemp milk and others seem to have wounded the pride of traditional milk providers.

In January, a bill called the Dairy Pride Act was introduced in Congress. If passed, it would compel the Food and Drug Administration to enforce an existing guideline that limits use of the word "milk" to the products of hooved mammals like cows, sheep and goats.

Naturally, traditional milk producers want us to drink more cow's milk, sales of which have declined amid rising demand for plant‐based competitors. The dairy industry has at least one valid concern aside from the slide in market share—consumers might think all milks have similar nutritional value. Most do not, as the table in the sidebar below shows.

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Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD

"Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician and obesity medicine physician, registered dietitian and health coach. She practices general pediatrics with a focus on healthy family routines, nutrition, physical activity and behavior change in North County, San Diego. She also serves as the senior advisor for healthcare solutions at the American Council on Exercise. Natalie is the author of five books and is committed to helping every child and family thrive. She is a strong advocate for systems and communities that support prevention and wellness across the lifespan, beginning at 9 months of age."

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