Vegan Propaganda Blames GHGs on Dairy

Vegan Propaganda Continually Blames GHGs on Dairy Farming – Here’s why that is a problem

By Jaclyn Krymowski for Protect The Harvest

The dairy sector is routinely targeted by both environmental and animal extremist groups. After disinformation about the welfare of dairy cows, the most common complaints cited are greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and overall unsustainability. These claims are usually backed by references and citations funded and promoted by extremist groups.


With the power of the internet and social media, these falsehoods have even crept into product marketing and food shaming. On the contrary to extremist opinions, dairy farmers are extremely resourceful and work very hard to preserve their natural resources and the environment. Ironically the same can’t be said about the multitude of vegan “dairy alternatives” that are pushed through the grocery stores with buzzwords and flashy advertising.

These types of campaigns can be summarized as a classic case of “greenwashing,” which is “the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.”

The Extremist Vendetta Against Dairy

Unfortunately, the public has become far removed from agriculture and food production. Extremists have seized on this opportunity to spread misinformation and blatant falsehoods about animal agriculture and dairy products in particular. The goal is to turn people against the consumption of milk and other dairy products altogether. When considering this agenda, it is important to remember that animal extremists view any ownership of animals as akin to slavery and therefore abuse. They seek to end animals in human care and target specific animal agriculture industries with rhetoric and disinformation campaigns.

Animal extremist groups have turned to another tactic since they know they will not be able to easily dissuade people from consuming animal products, owning pets, or raising livestock. This tactic pushes their narrative by capitalizing on hot-button political and social issues like climate change.

Media – Pay for Play

Don’t think these groups act alone in their own corners. Sadly, they also have major media players under their influence who are all too happy to spread their propaganda. One of those players is The Guardian, who are routinely paid to write articles to frame large modern farms in a negative light. In 2017, the Open Philanthropy Project paid the publication $886,600 “To support increased Guardian journalism on factory farming and farm animal cruelty.” In 2020, the same organization paid The Guardian for that same purpose, this time to the tune of $900,000.

The Guardian is not the only media outlet to participate in pushing an ideological agenda. In October 2021, The Economist penned an article pushing an anti-modern farm narrative and even compared cattle production to coal emissions. More recently, the New York Times Opinion section unleashed a video (the first in a three-part series) called “Meet the People Getting Paid to Kill Our Planet.” This was essentially a disinformation hit piece on the entire agriculture industry.

These examples only scratch the surface of the type of anti-modern farming sentiment that is prevalent in the mainstream media. Much of the time these articles are not backed by facts. They are backed by opinion, ideology, misleading studies, and propaganda pushed out and funded by extremist groups. Seldom are there any headlines about the efficiency or positive things that agriculture is doing for the planet. Even when there are such articles, they aren’t anywhere near as sensational or far reaching as the negative disinformation. The dairy industry is no exception to this type of treatment by the media and competitors in the marketplace.

How Dairy “alternative” Brands Leverage Greenwashing

Dairy alternative companies, selling plant alternatives to milk, are constantly vying to boost sales on the myriad of new products they have made available to consumers. Instead of providing true information about their products, they perpetuate negative propaganda about dairy. These companies will do so even if it means putting out misleading or blatantly false information.

The popular oat “milk” brand Oatly (a Swedish company), recently came under fire in the United Kingdom due to a false ad campaign. It was so egregious that the nation’s Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) admonished them for promoting “unclear and false information.”

In a January 2021 advertisement Oatly claimed their product had a lower carbon footprint than authentic dairy but was careful to be fully imprecise about the actual parameters. They also made the bold claim that, “The dairy and meat industries emit more CO2 than all the world’s planes, trains, cars, boats, etc., combined.” This is simply untrue and has been proven by scientific studies conducted by experts in animal agriculture emissions.

The ASA investigation found that the claim was entirely false based on the fact that Oatly only looked at a partial scale of transportation emissions (those coming from vehicles) compared to those the entire life cycle assessment of meat and dairy that include feed, fertilizer, and transportation. Oatly was ordered to discontinue advertising its product in the U.K.

This isn’t the first time Oatley has participated in a greenwashing scheme. In their own country of Sweden they also found themselves in a legal battle with dairy industry representatives over their slogan “It’s like milk, but made for humans,” which got one of their commercials completely banned. This same commercial was allowed to air in the United States during Super Bowl LV.

There are other fake milk substitute companies just like Oatly that follow the same formula. Silk and Ripple market multiple plant-based beverages and have run and referenced their own lifecycle assessment claiming their products to have a lower environmental impact. However, like with so many “studies” and “reports” funded by ideological bias, these assessments are not fully inclusive of all the aspects of dairy and plant beverage production. They especially don’t take into account the many ways dairy actually reduces environmental impact by recycling and efficiency.

Greenwashing Takes Advantage of Consumers

A major reason that companies wield greenwashing so extensively is because it lines pockets due to the emotional attachment consumers have with the environment. Numerous studies and surveys have shown that the vast majority of consumers prefer to buy from companies that they believe align with their values, especially environmental ones. This is evidenced by the launch of a number of vegan alternative food companies in recent years and the infusion of millions by investors.

Because this type of advertising is so effective, companies feel empowered to make bold statements without providing the necessary data to back it up

Dairy Isn’t Scary

Unfortunately, the big advertising budgets of these newly launched alternative vegan food products have overwhelmed consumers with messaging against dairy. Even Ben & Jerry’s, a company that has made its social and environmental stances a focal point in marketing, have been accused of being unsustainable by extremists due to utilizing large, modern dairy farms as their suppliers.

Dairy simply is not the environmental monster it’s been made out to be by animal and environmental extremist groups and the new fake food companies that are jumping on the greenwashing bandwagon. The dairy industry has been a forerunner in the agriculture community to decrease consumption of resources and increase efficiency. In 2020, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy proudly announced a brand-new set of environmental stewardship goals for the entire community. They have outlined goals which start at the farm and go all the way through processing and retail.

The goals they set to be achieved by 2050 include:

• Becoming carbon neutral or better
• Optimizing water use while maximizing recycling
• Improving water quality by enhancing use of manure control and nutrients

These goals for improvement are not a first for dairy farmers and processors. Through the years, dairies across the country have taken efforts to reduce their impact. In the U.S., North American dairy GHG emissions are only 1.29% of the total, which is 50% less compared to the global average of 2.5%. To put that into perspective, consider that from 1944 to 2006 dairy farms shrunk their total carbon footprint by 63%.

Most of these outstanding improvements were made possible thanks to large modern dairies using a blend of science, genetics, and technology to make milk production more efficient. Now a single gallon of milk is made with 65% less water, 75% less manure, and 90% less land than in generations gone by.

Dairy cattle are also excellent recyclers. They turn waste from other industries into nutrient-dense food products. Even the other beverage companies peddling dairy alternatives have cows to thank. Dairy farmers take advantage of food byproducts that would otherwise go into landfills creating methane when it decomposes. Dairy farmers utilize almond hulls, grain byproducts, orange peels, wheat middling’s and similar byproducts which are then formulated into high value diets for their cows.

Some People Are Figuring Out They Have Been Duped

In the last number of months it has become apparent that regular plant beverage drinkers are coming to the realization that all is not as it appears. The Guardian penned an article, while still promoting an anti-dairy angle, confronting the realities that many vegan alternatives such as almond and soy beverages are not as healthy as the companies claim. They are learning too that these products also have a much bigger environmental footprint than the product manufactures represent. The bottom line is that these products not entirely sustainable like the brands would have the public believe.

Almond milk consumes as much as 20 times more water than dairy to produce the same amount of milk. Many of the nation’s nut supply comes from California, which is facing water usage issues due to drought and efforts by environmental groups to divert stored water from farmers. Similar water concerns can also be said about rice milk. That doesn’t even factor in the impact of processing and transportation – the latter especially significant with coconut milks. To top it off, all of these concerns don’t even account for the nutritional quality that these substitutes lack that dairy contains.

Consumers need to be asking questions when a company claims their meat or dairy alternative product is “greener.” If they want to enter into competition with real food products like dairy, eggs, and meat then they shouldn’t do so by putting those products down. Instead they should be forthcoming about the contents, nutritional value, and environmental footprint of their own product. With growing concerns about environmental impacts, consumers should not just take the claims of these businesses at face value. It is important to investigate and consider the sources. As we demonstrated, there are mainstream media outlets, investors, and ideological organizations which have their own agenda. An agenda that does not line up with facts or what is best for the consumer.


Learn more about almond milk sustainability HERE

Read more about milk’s sustainability HERE

Read more about Swedish lawsuit HERE and HERE

Read more about Oatley HERE and HERE

Learn more about what greenwashing is HERE

Learn more about media bias HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE

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