Nutrition: Germans are shedding their urge for food for milk | EUROtoday

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MIt makes drained males cheerful? The pleasant-sounding promoting slogan from the post-war years in West Germany sounds old-fashioned at this time. In addition to flexitarians who consciously eat much less meat, there are increasingly more Germans who drink much less cow's milk out of conviction.

Experts see this abstinence as greater than only a short-lived vogue. For the Society for Consumer Research, those that “reduce milk” are now not a fringe group. Since meals is about extra than simply vitamins, cow's milk has had a picture drawback. But is it actually a factor of the previous – and what could possibly be the explanations for the choice in opposition to a staple meals? Questions about Milk Day on June 1st.

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Cheese and milk from goats have been particularly in demand in Germany for several years

In phrases of numbers, ingesting milk in Germany is on a gentle downward development. According to information from the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food, per capita consumption in 2023 was round 46 kilos. According to the authority, within the mid-Nineties it was round 60 kilos. However, the Federal Statistical Office nonetheless lists Germany as the most important producer of cow's milk within the EU, and the dairy business is among the highest-revenue sectors of agriculture on this nation. What's happening?

Social debates and political stress

“In Germany, we are moving strongly towards non-animal staple foods,” says Jana Rückert-John, professor of the sociology of meals at Fulda University. “Meat and all other animal products have come under massive fire from various directions in social debates.”

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WELT author Sandra Will has actually sworn off cow's milk, but she makes an exception for cream

It's about animal welfare, the carbon footprint, sustainability and local weather safety. “There is also political pressure on this issue.” For the researcher, the decline in meat and milk consumption is carefully linked. However, for her, there may be nonetheless a distinction. “Animals are killed for meat.”

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Ecologically, they have clear advantages, and compared to the veggie alternatives, they perform better in culinary terms.

Issues similar to typical animal husbandry and high-performance dairy cows, which solely see their calves for a number of hours after beginning and themselves barely stay previous the age of 5, should not simply of concern to vegans. According to the newest diet report, a consultant survey commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, 80 p.c of consumers take note of how a farm animal lives.

When selecting their meals, West Germans pay extra consideration to animal welfare than East Germans – and ladies extra typically than males. A superb half of these surveyed have already purchased vegetarian or vegan options – mostly plant-based substitutes for ingesting milk and dairy merchandise.

Nutrition is linked to values

Is there a subliminal tradition warfare happening over milk? Rückert-John wouldn’t go that far. “The debate is also a phenomenon of an affluent society,” she says. In Germany, there are sufficient substitute merchandise for milk. “Nutrition is more often seen as a problem because it no longer has just a health dimension,” she provides.

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It can also be about values ​​such because the surroundings or local weather. “Eating and drinking are basic needs – and at the same time so much more,” says the federal authorities's newest diet technique. It is about enjoyment, connection, custom, tradition and togetherness. In addition, diet is usually an expression of “an attitude to life or a means of self-realization.”

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Birds and cows in the stable

Pure milk is especially affected by the reluctance of consumers. The downward development in cheese constituted of cow's milk is much much less fast. Is there a logic to this? “Dairy products are moving away from the original product. It's as if I see a whole animal in the oven, or fish fingers and chicken nuggets,” says researcher Rückert-John. With the processing of meals, issues additionally turn into extra invisible.

The Federal Republic is much from banning milk. According to surveys carried out by the Society for Consumer Research, virtually 93 p.c of households proceed to purchase UHT or recent milk, simply much less.

Only two servings of milk per day

This yr, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has revised its suggestions for milk and dairy merchandise downwards – from three to 2 parts per day. “That corresponds to a glass of milk and a yogurt per day – or a yogurt and a slice of cheese,” explains DGE spokeswoman Antje Gahl.

Why the smaller portion? “In the new recommendations, we have not only taken health into account, but also environmental impacts. These include greenhouse gas effects and land use such as pastures,” she provides. Eating habits have additionally been included within the mannequin calculations.

For Gahl, the decrease milk consumption shouldn’t be an enormous deal. “Eating habits are changing. In recent years we have seen a switch towards more vegetarian or vegan diets,” she says. Every technology eats in another way. “In the post-war period, it was all about getting full, later came the wave of fitness and slimming.”

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Today, it’s now not nearly assembly wants. Skepticism about milk shouldn’t be a brand new phenomenon. There have at all times been discussions about how wholesome it’s and the way nicely it’s tolerated – the important thing phrase being lactose intolerance, studies the diet knowledgeable. So how wholesome is milk?

In phrases of vitamins, it affords lots of high-quality protein, calcium, nutritional vitamins B2 and B12, vitamin A, iron, magnesium, zinc and iodine. Pure plant drinks can not compete with that, says the DGE knowledgeable. “The calcium content alone is not enough. That is why all of these drinks are enriched with nutrients.” Nutritionists subsequently want to talk of substitutes for cow's milk fairly than options. But there may be little dogmatism. “Milk and dairy products are healthy for adults in the right quantities – but they are not absolutely necessary,” says Gahl.

More warning with kids and adolescents

For kids and adolescents, it's totally different due to bone progress. “We don't recommend a vegan diet for children because it's difficult to cover the nutritional needs,” she explains. “Of course, substitute products can be used, but parents need to be really knowledgeable about food.” Without milk, kids must eat lots of entire grain merchandise, pulses, nuts and seeds. “And they have to like them too.”

Sociologist Rückert-John has seen how her college students cope with milk of their on a regular basis lives at her college. The development is in the direction of abstinence – however the extra younger folks look into it, the extra sophisticated the matter turns into, she studies. The ecological steadiness of the soy and almond variants doesn’t essentially should be higher than that of cow's milk. Rainforests in Brazil could have been minimize down for soy fields, and an excessive amount of water could have been used for almonds.

“Consumers are overloaded and overtaxed,” observes the professor. “The many debates about what we should eat and where food comes from are incredibly complex. You can't weigh everything up and think it through.” For some, the one choice for a transparent conscience is to buy at an natural grocery store. But ultimately, this isn’t only a query of conviction, but additionally of the pockets.