In a word, no.
If I didn’t have access to raw milk from cows or goats on pasture, I simply wouldn’t consume milk. Above, I photographed raw cow’s milk on the shelves in the walk-in refrigerator at The Abbey Farm, who is my chosen source here in Portland, Oregon.
Back to the question at hand: “Are there any substitutes you recommend for raw milk?” Let me be very explicit, as this is a frequently asked question we receive. From our perspective, there are no substitutes for raw milk. I wouldn’t consume organic, pasteurized milk, even if it was non-homogenized. I would not consume low temperature pasteurized milk, even if it was organic, and even if it was grass-fed. Nor would I consume any of the “milk” substitutes such as soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp, and the like. We have numerous concerns about soy, which contains plant estrogens and is very hard to digest. The rest of the non-diary alternatives have no nutritional value to speak of. Commercial brands are also usually loaded with sugar to make them palatable, and poor quality, hard-to-absorb calcium, Vitamin D2 and other synthetic supplements to give them a nutritional profile similar to that of dairy.
I would and do use coconut milk and coconut cream but, don’t consider either to be a substitute for raw milk based on their nutritional profiles. Raw milk – full-fat, unprocessed, unheated milk from pasture-fed cows – contains vital nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins A and D, calcium, vitamin B6, B12, and CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid naturally occurring in grass-fed beef and milk, reduces body fat and protects against cancer. Real milk is a source of complete protein and is loaded with enzymes. Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that protects against pathogens and contributes to a healthy flora in the intestines. Culturing milk greatly enhances its probiotic and enzyme content, making it a therapeutic food for our digestive system and overall health. Pasteurization seriously compromises many of the benefits of real milk.
As Lori Lipinski explains in her article on milk:
Pasteurization is a process of heat treating milk to kill bacteria. Although Louis Pasteur developed this technique for preserving beer and wine, he was not responsible for applying it to milk. That was done at the end of the 1800s as a temporary solution until filthy urban dairies could find a way to produce cleaner milk. But instead of cleaning up milk production, dairies used pasteurization as a way to cover up dirty milk. As milk became more mass produced, pasteurization became necessary for large dairies to increase their profits. So the public then had to be convinced that pasteurized milk was safer than raw milk. Soon raw milk consumption was blamed for all sorts of diseases and outbreaks until the public was finally convinced that pasteurized milk was superior to milk in its natural state.
Today if you mention raw milk, many people gasp and utter ridiculous statements like, “You can die from drinking raw milk!” But the truth is that there are far more risks from drinking pasteurized milk than unpasteurized milk. Raw milk naturally contains healthy bacteria that inhibit the growth of undesirable and dangerous organisms. Without these friendly bacteria, pasteurized milk is more susceptible to contamination. Furthermore, modern equipment, such as milking machines, stainless steel tanks and refrigerated trucks, make it entirely possible to bring clean, raw milk to the market anywhere in the US.
Not only does pasteurization kill the friendly bacteria, it also greatly diminishes the nutrient content of the milk. [The statement from the Center for Disease Control is that “All of the nutritional benefits of drinking milk are available from pasteurized milk without the risk of disease that comes with drinking raw milk.” This statement is factually incorrect. Many nutrients and immune-enhancing components are destroyed by exposure to high heat and the temperatures used during pasteurization. Vitamin A is degraded, proteins and enzymes are denatured, and immunoglobulins are destroyed.]
Pasteurized milk has up to a 66 percent loss of vitamins A, D and E. Vitamin C loss usually exceeds 50 percent. Heat affects water soluble vitamins and can make them 38 percent to 80 percent less effective. Vitamins B6 and B12 are completely destroyed during pasteurization. Pasteurization also destroys beneficial enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Pasteurization destroys lipase (an enzyme that breaks down fat), which impairs fat metabolism and the ability to properly absorb fat soluble vitamins A and D. The dairy industry is aware of the diminished vitamin D content in commercial milk, so they fortify it with a form of this vitamin.
We have all been led to believe that milk is a wonderful source of calcium, when in fact, pasteurization makes calcium and other minerals less available. Complete destruction of phosphatase is one method of testing to see if milk has been adequately pasteurized. Phosphatase is essential for the absorption of calcium.
As the dairy industry has become more concentrated, many processing plants have switched to ultra pasteurization, which involves higher temperatures and longer treatment times. [Ultra-pasteurization heats the milk to 280º for only a few seconds. The reason for using ultra-pasteurization is because it kills everything. Ultra pasteurization not only kills potentially harmful bacteria in the milk, but also damages all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients originally contained in the milk. This process also kills the healthy enzymes which help your body digest the milk, and drinking it without the enzymes can lead to lactose intolerance.] The industry says this is necessary because many microorganisms have become heat resistant and now survive ordinary pasteurization.
Another reason for ultrapasteurization is that it gives the milk a longer shelf life–up to four weeks. The grocers like this but many consumers complain of a burnt or dead taste. The milk is virtually sterile–is that what you want to drink?
Milk producers are not advertising the fact that they are ultrapasteurizing the milk–the word is written in very small letters and the milk is sold in the refrigerator section even though it can be kept unrefrigerated until opened. Horizon, the major organic brand, is ultrapasteurized, as are virtually all national brands. [This is the majority of our milk today; what you would typically find in a grocery store. I strongly recommend against the consumption of ultra pasteurized milk whether organic or not.]
Milk straight from the cow contains cream, which rises to the top. Homogenization is a process that breaks up the fat globules and evenly distributes them throughout the milk so that they do not rise. This process unnaturally increases the surface area of fat exposing it to air, in which oxidation occurs and increases the susceptibility to spoilage. Homogenization has been linked to heart disease and atherosclerosis.
What about low temperature pasteurized milk?
Organic Valley makes a certified organic, whole milk that is even exclusively 100% grass-fed from cows on pasture however, it has been pasteurized. It claims to be lightly pasteurized yet, I still wouldn’t drink it or recommend it. Low temperature pasteurized milk is only heated to 145º, which may keep some of the beneficial enzymes in tact, however proteins begin to denature at 118º. The milk proteins carry vitamins and minerals through the gut into the blood stream; they enhance the immune system and protect against disease. Your digestive enzymes cannot recognize denatured proteins. Their coiled chains unwind, changing or losing their three-dimensional shape and function, which can trigger an allergic response such as mucous, or illness such as asthma.
If you don’t have access to raw milk, we would recommend raw cheese, which is widely available.
Read other articles I’ve written on the topic of raw milk.
Read more about raw milk in these books recommended via our Amazon affiliation:
- The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle over Food Rights
- The Untold Story of Milk, Revised and Updated: The History, Politics and Science of Nature’s Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows.
32 Responses to Are there any substitutes you recommend for raw milk?
I wish raw milk wasn’t illegal here in NC. :(
To Amy in NC: raw milk IS LEGAL in North Carolina. One must label it “for pet consumption only” though in order to stay within guidelines. I live in the Western part of the State and my girlfriend worked on a farm that sold raw goat’s milk.
Also, there are farms that will deliver raw cow’s milk to certain parts of the State. Do some digging and you’ll find a farmer. You may have to do some traveling, but I dare say it’s worth it.
Thank you, Rich for your reply! :) I’m in the Piedmont area and know of the pet consumption guidelines, yet I’m still having a hard time finding it in my area…or anyone to divulge any information as to where to get raw milk. I’m not far from the South Carolina border and found one source for raw milk there, but learned that the farmer supplements with GMO grains. I would love to find raw goat’s milk! I tend to tolerate goat’s milk/cheese better. Finding a farmer who will deliver would be wonderful…but I’d be willing to travel if I could find a good quality raw milk from a farmer I could trust! :) Thanks again for the insightful info! I’ll keep searching! :)
http://www.realmilk.com is where I found my source in nj.
We have a great farmer in PA that was doing this for their kefir up until last week when they were asked to stop labeling it as such. PA allows raw milk to be sold in stores, on farms, etc. All of a sudden they have asked this farmer to stop selling the kefir.
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I think the word “substitute” is the crux of the matter for me. I am lucky enough to have access to a readily available source of high quality raw milk. I completely agree that there is no substitute. That being said I would like to know of ways to re-balance the nutritional profile of my diet should I find myself in a position where this food was unavailable. Are there other foods that I can increase consumption of to replace some of the nutrients lost in the absence of raw milk?
Should I be storing my raw milk with plastic kids? I use metal lid mason jars. Thanks.
Haha – kids! 😂😂
Should I be storing my raw milk with plastic lids? I use metal lid mason jars. Thanks.
[…] Source: Are there any substitutes you recommend for raw milk? […]
My 3 year old has always reacted with eczema when drinking raw cow or goat milk. What do you suggest to those who just can’t tolerate it?
Sheep milk if you can find it. Raw sheep cheese is usually easy to find.
I’ve been drinking raw milk for the past two years and I love it.
I think you meant to say raw milk has vitamin K, rather than vitamin A.
Raw milk contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2.
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Hi there! In Argentina is likely impossible to get raw milk. At home, I make yogurt with commercial pasteurized not organic milk, hoping that lactobacili makes the best they can to give me a decent product. What do you think about it?
I personally would not use any non-organic dairy products. Unfortunately Argentina doesn’t have a Weston A. Price Foundation local chapter: http://www.westonaprice.org/get-involved/find-a-local-chapter-international/ that you could reach out to. I envision it may be possible to obtain raw milk directly from a farmer. Are there no organic dairy options?
[…] milk of any kind is an avoid, and I don’t recommend it, as I shared in this article I wrote: Are there any substitutes you recommend for raw milk?. If it isn’t raw milk, I don’t drink it and don’t recommend others do either. […]
Do you also avoid any recipes that utilize milk in cooked/baked foods? I don’t see how that’s much different than pasteurization…just curious. Thanks!
I wouldn’t say that I actively avoid any recipes, milk just isn’t an ingredient in the cooked food I consume. I may add cream or cream fraiche to soup as a garnish at the end. I do melt raw cheese just slightly on eggs!
Do you happen to know how much raw cheese can substitute for the 1 quart raw milk recommendation in the WAPF pregnancy diet? I have a much easier time sourcing raw cheddar than raw milk…
I don’t have a substitute quanitity, however I’ll ask Sally Fallon Morell. My instinct is to enjoy as much as feels comfortable for you in relationship to the rest of your diet.
[…] https://nourishingourchildren.org/2016/02/14/substitutes-for-raw-milk/ […]
[…] https://nourishingourchildren.org/2016/02/14/substitutes-for-raw-milk/ […]
When we make yogurt, the directions insist that the milk must be boiled first. Isn’t this the same as pasteurization? I can’t see the point in paying extra for raw milk just to turn around and boil it… Any insight appreciated.
Hi Kayla, we’d recommend raw milk yogurt: http://nourishedkitchen.com/raw-milk-yogurt/, https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/yogurt/raw-milk-yogurt/
Would you agree that the type of cow also matters? A1 versus A2? I’ve asked various companies that sell grassfed butter and ghee and they use a combo of both, so I have avoided dairy for my kids.
I personally would not avoid raw milk products that have a mix of A1 and A2. I certainly wouldn’t consider milk from an A1 source cause for concern to the degree that I’d avoid it. I would absolutely buy grass-fed butter and ghee from those companies without hesitation!
Do you have the research studies backing what you are saying? I personally completely agree with what you are saying but in order for me to be able to share the information through work (I work with agriculture), I have to have studies to back what I am saying. I have had a hard time finding actual published studies.
Lauren, there are many points made in this article. What exactly do you hope to have further references for?