nclean: (Pectoral)
[personal profile] nclean
So, I've been looking at my consumption and demand of dairy products. I'm not quite finished, but I have enough to comment.

The first thing that this showed was that many things that I expected to be the big culprits of my dairy consumption weren't, and some things that accounted for much of my demand were complete surprises.

For example, I thought that the chocolate powder that I had every morning would be a substantial part of my dairy consumption (simply because I had it every day), and that other "big ticket items" would be: coco-puffs, milk chocolate, cookies, nutella sandwiches and so on, as well as pies, pasties, and muffins. For items that I don't create direct demand for (having some of someone else's...), I thought that MonUCS pub would be the thing, since it was regular.

Hoo, on some of those items, I was a bit off.

Coco-puffs are Vegan!! Oze-choc has bugger-all dairy in it (<1%), and therefore contributes very little. The ingredients for the pies and pasties that I've found indicate less than 1% dairy. Nutella has surprisingly little dairy, with a sandwich resulting in about the same demand as a small piece of milk chocolate (15 ml).


I had no idea just how much cream was in it. As a bulk item (as opposed to little bits of chocolate), this means massive dairy use. One batch of Dhal Makhani, with a typical recipe uses well over a litre of milk, to create. It's what you don't know about that can screw you up.

Each day, I'd write down what I'd eaten that had or might have dairy products. If I couldn't recall exactly what I'd eaten that day, the day was ignored. Therefore, there may be some sampling bias. Records were taken for 34 days in total: 20 days in late semester 1, and 14 days more recently.

Once the items were all recorded, (after I'd started the trial, so as to reduce bias), I took a look at the ingredients, and used that to find out what proportion was dairy. For example, Choc Hazenut Spread says that one serve is 20g (one tablespoon), and lists the ingredients as: "...Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder (7.4%), Sweet Whey Powder (From Milk), Emulsifier (322 From Soy)..." . To be conservative, I assume that whey content is up to 7.4%. I don't know exactly how much milk is required to make whey, so I use an average value of 10 litres of milk per kilo of whey. Other figures are based on the Australian National average, that is:

3 billion litres of milk --> 306,000 tonnes cheese (10.85 L/kg)
1.8 billion L milk --> 164 tonnes skim milk + x1 butter (Skim Milk Powder 11.23 L/kg)
1.1 billion L milk --> 141 tonnes Whole Milk Powder (WMP)
369 million L milk --> y cassein + x2 butter
Total butter production = 127,000 tonnes

Because the product is split, it's tricky to handle butter, which is a co-product. If you take the two sources, it takes about 17 L to make 1kg butter.

The rule for most things is apparently about 10 L per kilo, which I'm assuming for Whey. Cream comes in lots of different varieties, each of which requires different amounts of milk. 40% butterfat cream requires about 10 L milk, and is a co-product to Skim Milk and SMP.

Therefore, for a choc-hazelnut sandwich, we can assume that a thin spread amounts to "one serve" of 20g (laying it on thick would count as 40-60 g) . This contains 1.5 g of whey, which translates to 15 ml of dairy.

=== RESULT ===

The total result is that for sources where I create direct demand, I'm using about 63 ml of milk per day on average across 34 days, or about 23 litres per year. In addition, I might consume perhaps as much as 53 ml from other sources without real direct demand (for instance, having part of someone else's cheesy pizza when I'm having vegan pizza). This second figure varies pretty wildly, though, so I'd kinda like to get some more, better data on this.

The two serves (shared with Julie) of Dhal Makhani constitute 47% of my demand figure, so I think there's a lot of scope to improve my demand load without significant impositions to my habits. Chocolate is about 1/6th of my demand, biscuits another 1/6th. Of the non-demand component, about 1/3 was MonUCS pub, and just over half from one pizza.

63 ml / day is about 6.3% of the average Australian dairy consumption of more than 1 litre per day, based on figures from

Australian milk production is 9 billion litres annually - equivalent to 450 litres per year. Most drinking milk stays in Australia; 40% of the cheese is exported (6 of 15 kg) but we import another 2 kg of cheese. 85% of SMP is exported, but a lot of our chocolate and so on is imported, which is where SMP ends up going.

Between 104 litres of drinking milk, 2.24 kg of milk powder, 11.8 kg of cheese, 4.1 kg of butter, 6.9 kg of yoghurt, 18 litres of Ice-cream and 11.8 kg of "other", I count something between 1 litre and 1.3 litres, depending on how you handle co-products.

My target level was to reduce my dairy demand by at least 95%, with 80% being the absolute minimum acceptable.

As my demand is only 1/16th of the national average, and, as most of you know, I really don't hold back when it comes to chocolate and so forth, it really shows not how little dairy I consume, but just how hideously much the average Australian consumes.

Date: 2009-12-16 11:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This looks like a really interesting study, Olie! Can I ask a few things?

1 - what is your motivation for cutting down on dairy? What is your opposition to the average Australian's dairy consumption?
2 - what is your current source of calcium? Are you replacing the nutrient from dairy products by using another source?

These questions are not attacks, they are genuine curiosity and interest in something you've obviously dedicated yourself so fully to.

Date: 2009-12-17 12:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
There are lots of reasons to cut down on dairy consumption, especially environmental reasons and animal welfare issues.

It takes as much water to grow as cow as to float a battleship. The dairy industry uses 39.5% of Australia's total irrigation water use (National Land and Water Resources Audit). The cattle industry generally is also responsible for a shitload of extinctions, soil erosion and a major fraction of Australia's (and the world's) greenhouse output.

The dairy industry is abhorrent at every stage from an animal welfare point of view, from the direct pain of milk extraction machinery to the trauma suffered by mothers as they lose their calves. Veal is an integral part of the dairy industry- if we didn't kill the calves, they wouldn't leave much milk for us to steal.

As for calcium, I get plenty from other sources, especially green leafy veggies and nuts. The dairy industry has done a very good job at conning Australians into thinking that "milk is THE source of calcium", but there have been numerous studies showing that rather than having a beneficial effect on bones, high rates of dairy consumption are correlated with increased osteoporosis and bone breakage rates.

Date: 2009-12-17 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think you've done some very thorough research, and I wish you all the best in your endeavour. :)

Date: 2009-12-17 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
there have been numerous studies showing that rather than having a beneficial effect on bones, high rates of dairy consumption are correlated with increased osteoporosis and bone breakage rates.

That's really interesting, I hadn't actually heard of that before. Do you remember any specific studies? I'd be very interested in reading more about this.

Date: 2009-12-18 05:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Dahl Makhani is my favourite type of dahl. If only it was vegan. And well done on the research.


Date: 2011-06-18 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
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