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If You Want Equity, You Want Milk

Faced with demand that’s found its ceiling and with its sustainability and health claims coming increasingly under question, the plant-based imitation milk marketing machine is now coming for your children. Despite the critical importance of dairy nutrients to childhood development, nut-based beverage purveyors are pushing for their white-colored sugar water to have greater access to federal nutrition programs, all in the name of “equity” – an emphasis on fairness and justice that’s become an important paradigm in policy debates.

But equity, in food, requires a quality product and equality in access. And for that, milk, a natural product offered with both regular and lactose-free options, remains by far the best solution. Equity in food policy means making sure that everyone has access to the nutrients they need to thrive. The federal school lunch and breakfast programs, the WIC Program, and other initiatives are meant to ensure nutrition for all.

Lactose intolerance is a concern for populations that have higher rates of difficulty absorbing lactose, particularly African American, Asian American, American Indian and Hispanic/Latino populations. That, unfortunately, is now being used by dairy’s opponents to tout their inferior nutrition as a solution to the problem lactose intolerance.

The latest ploy among the vegan, animal rights and plant-based lobbies is to suddenly paint themselves as social justice crusaders, demanding that their nutritionally inferior (which, even when fortified, remain unequal to dairy’s unique nutritional package) products should now be treated as legitimate milk substitutes in federal nutrition programs – all the while conveniently forgetting that a widely available alternative already exists that circumvents lactose intolerance and delivers the exact same nutritional profile as milk. Because that’s what it is.

The lactose-free milk moment has arrived.

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