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Still drinking cow’s milk? Here are 11 animal milks you should know about

Milk history began in the Neolithic period when humans began the transition from hunting and gathering to a more stable lifestyle. This fact has opened up new possibilities for adapting resources to obtain food.

The most important thing was the domestication of animals, along with the development of agriculture, meaning constant access to meat, fur, and animal milk. The first attempts at domesticating ruminants (goats, cows, sheep) began 11,000 years ago in the Middle East. For centuries, milk has been a desirable and valuable source of food wherever livestock is raised.

Milk is a nutrient-rich, white, liquid food made in the mammary glands of almost all mammals. It is the primary source of nourishment for infant mammals (comprising humans who breastfed) until they start to digest other kinds of semisolid or solid food.

Early-lactation milk consists of colostrum, which has the antibodies of the mother to its infants and can decrease the risk of various diseases. It comprises various other nutrients containing lactose and protein. Interspecies drinking of milk is not surprising, mainly amongst humans, numerous of whom drink the milk of other species of mammals.

Milk is still the most popular food for humankind, but its popularity is declining. From 2013 to 2023, sales are expected to drop by 27%. Non-dairy milk is becoming more and more popular, but does it exist? What is the best animal milk for human drinking? 

Animal Milk Nutrition Comparison

Almost 85% of the world's milk supply is from cows. But in some European countries and the US, about 7% of the population is allergic to it. Few non-bovine species' milks don't cause those allergies, have therapeutic uses, and better nutritional value than cow's.

The most important animal in milk production in the world is the cow. Other animal species used for dairy purposes are of regional importance. However, in some parts of the world (where cow milk is banned ), milk from these species is a valuable source of nutrition, providing food to residents of these areas. We need to emphasize what we are offering. Due to its high protein and fat content, including casein, sheep and buffalo milk is a particularly good source of cheese.

The dairy department of your local supermarket probably contains a lot of milk. You can see types such as 2% whole milk, 1% skim, etc. They all come from cattle, but they are processed in different ways to change their nutritional value by adjusting the amount of fat in the milk.


Cow Milk Alternatives

Milk is the main content of many household shopping. However, many babies and children are allergic to milk protein or cannot digest the sugar present in the cow’s milk. Some people avoid it because of other health problems or simply because they don’t like the taste. These families will be able to increase their choice of milk substitutes currently used in the dairy industry. The nutritional value in the numerous dairy alternative products is vital for individuals to be aware of while shopping for drinking purposes.

Remember that the only substitute for cow’s milk was considered soy? For vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance, this is certainly good news, but throughout the process, we seem to forget that cows and nuts are not the only sources of milk.

Eighty-five percent of the world's milk production comes from cows, but livestock cannot survive in many areas. Therefore, these communities rely on other animals to provide dairy products. Some of these alternatives are various animal milk, such as camel and goat milk, which is continually emerging in health food stores in Australia and the United States due to their nutritional benefits and more digestible ingredients than cow's milk.

You may only look for alternative milk in non-dairy nut-based milk, but dairy cows are far from the only source of dairy milk. The camel milk on the shelves of the grocery store near the Los Angeles office aroused people’s interest. The “Non-Bovine Mammal Milk Handbook” (the second edition was released this summer).

Cows are not the only animals that produce milk. What are the other sources of animal milk? Some examples of animals that are milk producers are goats, sheep, buffalos, camels, giraffes, mares, zebus, reindeers, and yaks. All of these can be used to make drinks and foods like cheese.

Scroll down the article to find 11 uncommon animal milks you should know about.

Camel Milk

different types of milk

For a long time, camels have provided excellent nutritional support for millions of people suffering from severe weather and water shortages and provide milk with important nutritional value. Camel milk is a rare substitute for animal milk. However, this has never been “new” because many cultures have consumed this milk for thousands of years.

Camel milk may not get much importance soon on the shelves of the grocery stores of the supermarkets. However, it is evolving as a hot commodity shortly. It is also easier to digest as compared to cow’s milk and is popular among the people who are suffering from lactose intolerance.

Research suggests that camel's milk is pretty much the closest you can get to a human mother's milk. Particularly in terms of immune-boosting proteins like lactoferrin and immunoglobulins, it is the same. Camel's milk also contains exclusively A2 casein, making it more digestible and better tolerated than cow's milk. 

Studies have shown that in terms of immune-enhancing protein, this is as close as possible to human breast milk.

A cup of camel milk contains 107 calories and less than 5 grams of fat. It has the lowest protein content, 5.4g per serving. One cup is rich in thiamine, which accounts for 58 percent of the RDA. A cup of camel milk provides 16 percent of the RDA of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin C 10 percent, potassium 12 percent, and phosphorus 12 percent. It is also a good source of 32 percent calcium. Recommended daily dose.

Camel milk containing lactoferrin and immunoglobulin is believed to strengthen the immune system. It may be the only source of water in the arid climate of the Middle East. Camel milk provides an average of 52 microunits of insulin per cup. In the United States, the price of tracking camel milk may be higher than the price of milk or goat milk. In other words, some small farms in the United States offer to order options.

Goat Milk

Goat milk rennet has a short clotting time, low heat resistance, weak curd hardness, and low cheese yield, which can explain the huge difference from cow’s milk and other animal kinds of milk. In the digestion of infants and patients, it is traditionally described by the “homogeneous” nature of goat milk fat.

Goat milk is one of the primarily acknowledged superfoods. There is evidence that people are consuming goat milk for thousands of years. Goats provide about 2% of the world’s milk, which can be produced in poor soil areas. In the past 20 years, people are concerned about the nutritional value of milk leading to an increase in milk production by about 60%.

Although goat milk seems to be a new trend in the US, it has been popular internationally and has existed for hundreds of years. More than 65% of the world's population drinks goat milk.

Rich in vitamins and minerals, this milk substitute provides a solution for those who are having problems in digestion and sensitive to lactose. When we compare the constituents of goat and cow's milk, we came to know that goat milk is closer to human milk as compared to cow’s milk.

Goat milk usually contains very low or no inflammatory A1 casein. Similarly, unlike cow’s milk, goat’s milk does not contain lectins- agglutinin proteins, which aggregate the fat globules in milk. Without the lectin in the picture, Down's fat globules will not come together and are easy to digest, but like camel milk, goat milk is expensive.

Some babies may digest goat milk more efficiently as it contains lower levels of lactose than cow’s milk. Similarly, people who are lactose intolerant may find it easy to tolerate because of the lower content of lactose.

Effective for people with lactose intolerance: lactose is the main carbohydrate in dairy products, but it is lower in goat milk than other dairy products. Experts at Mayenberg Goat Milk say that many people who do not efficiently digest cow’s milk do not have the same problems with goat milk.

The high content of beneficial fatty acids: Compared with cow’s milk, goat milk has a much higher content of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids. Goat milk fat globules are usually smaller than cow milk fat globules, so the body’s digestive enzymes can break them down faster and help to relieve problems that are faced by cow’s milk like discomfort and bloating.

The protein present in goat’s milk forms a softer curd in the stomach, which is said to aid digestion, but this has not been proven.

A2 Cow Milk

Not all cow milk is made the same. Different types of cows produce milk that contains various forms of the milk protein casein because of mutations that historians believe occur in Europe thousands of years ago.

Regarding casein, there are two types of milk, A1 and A2. Studies have shown that milk containing A2 casein is relatively easy to digest, but not A1. Interestingly, the amount of these casein concentrations varies among cattle breeds, with some breeds having little or no A1 casein. A2 milk is a milk product that naturally produces only A2 casein protein.

In my view, if you are in the dairy market, A2 can cause gastrointestinal irritation compared to regular milk. But if you have a milk allergy, don’t use A2. Due to digestive problems and lactose intolerance, some Americans stop taking milk, but these problems tend to go away when people drink A2 milk as the A2 protein is easily digested. At the same time, the nutrients of A2 milk are better absorbed.

The large A2 milk brand is appropriately named A2. Sold nationwide by Whole Foods, it is sold in markets that serve consumers of organic and natural products. Many small regional dairy products also produce A2 milk, usually labeled with an A2 status promotion.

A2 Milk tastes the same as regular milk. It is hormone and antibiotic-free, pasteurized, homogenized, and processed like regular milk. It is available in whole chocolate, 2% less fat, no fat, and even chocolate types. From a health and nutrition perspective, there is no health hazard of drinking A2 milk.

The only problem is that it’s a bit expensive. Half a gallon of normal milk costs less than $3, while half a gallon of A2 milk ranges from $4.25 to $5.

Yak Milk

buffalo milk

Yak is very cold tolerant and used as an alternative to milk in some parts of the world. They mainly live in alpine regions like western China and Mongolia, where they are the only milk species that are sometimes available. Also, yak milk itself is very nutritious.

Yak milk contains more protein than milk from the cow, goats, and even human milk, and is high in individual and total amino acids. In the Tibetan Plateau, where about 95% of the world’s yaks live, people drink tea with yak milk and yak butter.

Nutrients of Yak milk

Solids       16.9 – 17.7%
Protein      4.9 – 5.3%
Fat            5.5 – 7.2%
Lactose     4.5 – 5.0%
0.8 – 0.9%

Nepal has begun to make "Yak cheese production" at the commercial level. Yak cheese contains 47% milk fat on a dry basis. Yak milk casein is hydrolyzed to produce antihypertensive peptides with multiple bioactive functions and the ability to produce value-added functional foods and proteins. More research is needed to further characterize the biophysical and biochemical properties of camel and yak milk as functional substitutes for milk and other animal products.

Persistent education and data dissemination represent efforts to ensure that these natural health effects of milk are optimally recognized by science and the public community around the world.

Buffalo Milk

Asia is the largest producer of buffalo milk ( 95% of the world's buffalo milk). Buffalo milk is used in the same way as cow's milk. Rich in fat and solids, it has a strong flavor. A lot of people prefer buffalo milk over cow's milk.

Buffalo milk is pure white because it has already converted carotene into vitamin A, so it does not contain carotene. Buffalo milk is thick in concentration as it has lower water content.

Buffalo milk is relatively common. Buffaloes are the major dairy animal in countries like India and Pakistan, and buffalo milk accounts for about 13% of the world's milk production.

As compared to cow milk, buffalo milk is high in solids and, therefore, high in fat, protein, lactose, and minerals. Also, buffalo milk yields more creams, butter, and cheese.

Due to the release of sulfhydryl compounds, it is known for its unique flavor, especially nutty when boiled.

Buffalo in the United States has some relevance to cows, and it’s not surprising that buffalo milk is an option. One cup of buffalo milk contains 237 calories and 17 grams of fat. It also has higher cholesterol than goat milk, which has 27 mg of cholesterol, and buffalo milk has 46 mg. A cup of buffalo milk provides 12% of the daily potassium requirement and fills with 8.7% Vitamin A, 9.4% Vitamin C, 32% Calcium, and 1.6% Iron.

Buffalo Milk is rich in protein, a cup contains 9.2 grams of protein and has a higher calcium content than cow milk. It’s also a source of iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Buffalo milk and buffalo cream are popular in Indian sauces and desserts. It is creamy, thick milk with a mild and sweet flavor. It can be a good alternative to cow or goat milk, and it's rich in fat, which makes it ideal for cheese, butter, and ice cream.

Horse Milk

Horse milk is used in Europe as an alternative to cow milk because of its health benefits. Although still a niche product, horse milk is used as a remedy for skin and digestive problems. Research suggests that it can improve atopic dermatitis or eczema. It is also used in the formulation of cosmetics.

Researchers at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, published a study on the benefits of horse milk in the “Functional Foods in Health and Disease” magazine. It has been suggested that mare’s milk is rich in albumin, which helps in regulating blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of cancer because of casein protein, which is toxic to breast cancer cells.

For centuries, horse milk is called saumal in Kazakh and has been consumed in regions of Central Asia. It is famous for its healing properties, relieving inflammatory diseases such as tuberculosis, anemia, diabetes, and Crohn's disease. It is also used for skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema. Kumis, a fermented mare's product, helps in regulating blood pressure.

As a blood tonic, it is associated with an increased number of red and white blood cells. This milk also contains high levels of lactose, digestible albumin, and reduced-fat and casein. The latter is a milk protein that is difficult for the human body to digest.

According to the research led by Professor Almagul Kushugulova, it has been one of the most beneficial animals throughout Kazakhstan and Central Asia since and mare's milk is widely used in these regions due to its beneficial nature. It primarily affects the digestive system. It contains lysozyme and lactoferrin. They have antibacterial properties that help fight pathogens, fungi, and viruses.

Thanks to their rich composition of enzymes, they selectively grow beneficial bacteria. It stimulates limiting the growth of unwanted bacteria in the intestine.

Mare’s milk has ingredients similar to human milk, which increases the interest of industry formulating baby food products. Most babies with severe cow or buffalo milk allergies appear to respond well to horse milk.

By the year 2025, the World Health Organization predicts that 50% of the world’s population will suffer from milk allergies, providing an alternative way to supply important nutrients. Currently, it is estimated that approximately 30 million people consume horse milk.

So how do you find horse milk? The ranch offers these fresh or frozen products but is mainly produced in France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and usually costs around $15 per liter.

Some organic grocery stores in North America carry it. Mare milk powders such as Equilac can be purchased online. It has a maximum shelf life of 18 months and can be mixed with water or dairy products such as yogurt.

Zebu Milk

sheep milk

Zabs, also known as humpback cattle, are the most common bovine mammals found in Brazil, India, and China and are capable of withstanding adverse conditions such as the inability of dairy cows to fever.

Milk is rich in solids, but its composition is vastly different (more than 70 varieties) and no known nutritional benefits over traditional milk. People in certain areas grow zebu because it’s naturally available. Zebu milk has a higher fat and carbohydrate content than other types of milk.

Zebu cattle originated from Southwest Asia, and their offspring were not humped, so they evolved from three Indian cattle. Guzerat, Nelore, and Gir had the greatest impact on zebu breeding. Zebu cattle have humpback and belong to the Bos primigenius bovine species. They were brought to Africa very quickly and have been exported to Brazil and the United States for the last 100 years.

The average Miniature Zebu cow can produce 1 gallon of healthy, easily digestible milk per day. Miniature Zebs produces milk that contains A2 protein. It is the original beta-casein protein that existed before the mutation made A1 appear on European farms thousands of years ago. It is also rich in milk fat (more than 5% milkfat).

Sheep Milk

Both Australia and New Zealand have small but developing dairy industries. Globally, sheep’s milk is considered about 1% of total production. Young W. Park, Ph.D., who is editor of the Handbook of Milk of Non-Bovine Mammals, said that sheep’s milk is healthy as compared to cow’s milk in many ways. Its high solids content is higher than goat milk, making it particularly palatable, which contains a high concentration of all ten amino acids as compared to cow milk.

Milk of sheep is more readily accepted by the human digestive system than cow milk or goat milk. Sheep’s milk does not have the aroma and taste that goat milk usually has. The solid content of sheep milk is approximately twice that of goat milk or cow’s milk, and sometimes more than twice.

People with an intolerance will explore those sheep milk products are the only milk products they can easily consume (for patients who cannot digest cow milk or goat milk will face no trouble with sheep milk).

Consuming large quantities of sheep milk is thought to prolong life. The Bulgarian Shepherd is known for its longevity and may have been obtained from the diet of sheep. Due to its high calcium quantities, sheep milk is much useful for preventing osteoporosis and people who already have it. Sheep milk is among the highest nutritious milk in the world currently. Camel and buffalo milk are the only kinds of milk that can be compared with its nutritional value.

The solid content of sheep milk is twice that of cow's milk or goat milk, which is very suitable for making cheese. Ten liters of cow's milk is used to produce 1 kg of Gouda cheese, but only 5 liters of sheep milk is used to make the same quantity of cheese.

Compared with goats and cattle, the main component of sheep milk is its composition, especially important nutrients such as protein, magnesium, iron, calcium, thiamine, zinc, riboflavin, Vit D, vitamin B6, and B12 moreover medium chain amino acids, linoleic acid and including all essential amino acids.

If you only drink two glasses (490 grams) of sheep milk a day, it is assumed that you have taken sufficient calcium, riboflavin, and almost 5 out of 10 essential amino acids per day. Besides, 2 cups of goat milk yogurt or 93 grams of goat cheese will meet your daily needs for these nutrients.

Sheep milk is evaluated as the creamiest milk above all. Because sheep graze on grass for the creation of milk, it is naturally homogenized milk, which reveals that it comprises more value of medium-chain fatty acid and slighter fat globules. It also assists in digestion. It is a fact that sheep milk is not popular for purely drinking purposes, but the products made from its milk are extensively consumed worldwide.

Reindeer Milk

Reindeer’s milk is an indispensable part of the economy and welfare of some communities in northern Eurasia (too cold) regions where cows cannot survive. The fat content of reindeer milk is the same as cow’s milk and the quantities of calcium also. However, the concentration of potassium and sodium content is lower.

Reindeer milk is nutritious. One liter is sufficient to meet the daily protein needs of adults. Reindeer milk contains more than 20% fat and approximately 10% protein. The dry matter mass (30g/100g) is higher than milk, and it also contains vitamins A and D. Most of the fat in reindeer milk is unsaturated, and the lactose content is much less than that of cows.

Reindeer milk is high in dry matter and has much higher calories than cow’s milk. The lactose content is relatively low: 100 grams of reindeer milk contains 15 grams of fat, 9.9 grams of protein, and 2.5 grams of lactose. In contrast, lactose is 100 grams. Milk contains 4 grams of fat, 3.2 grams of protein, and 4.8 grams of lactose.

The total fat content of reindeer milk is more than six times that of cow milk, and the protein content is four times that of cow milk. The high protein content means that it contains 2 to 6 times more amino acids than milk, indicating its potential use as a protein supplement, especially for athletes. About 80% of reindeer milk protein is casein.

Giraffe Milk

cockroach milk

In 1962, a group of investigators milked a giraffe when the giraffe was under anesthesia for an operation, to evaluate the milk content of the giraffe.  The report showed that giraffe milk contains a high-fat amount of up to 12.5 percent, to be exact.

That links with 3.5% in full fat cow's milk.  Furthermore, giraffe milk comprises comparable amounts of vitamin B6, riboflavin, and thiamine to the milk of cow, but it contains elevated levels of vitamins A and B12.

Conversely, in various ways, giraffe milk can be healthier for us compared to the traditional cow's milk we use on our regular cereal – although the content of fat could be offensive to some.

Despite everything, giraffe milk contains four times more fat content as compared to full-fat cow milk, and more than twelve times more fat as compared to the skimmed milk.

It's a fact that the fat content of giraffe milk is much higher than cow's milk. Although this seems to be a problem, recent research suggests that a diet rich in dairy products seems to reduce the risk of diabetes.

Besides, giraffe milk has higher vitamin A and B12 content than cow's milk, but the content of riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamin B6 is similar. Therefore, from a nutritional point of view, although giraffe milk is rich in fat content, it is very healthy.

As you can imagine, the health data for Giraffe milk varies because animals have difficulty milking; in fact, few people consume regular giraffe milk. For example, a 2005 study by the Bikaner Diabetes Research Center found that drinking complex fatty acid-rich camel milk could improve control of insulin levels in people with diabetes.

In 2016, Tufts University researchers found that the number of people consuming relatively high levels of milk fat was reduced by 46%.

It's worth mentioning that this is an unlikely product before you go to the supermarket to find giraffe milk. The plain fact is that giraffes cannot stand milking. In 1962, researchers had to anesthetize a sample. Of course, milk has become the norm in most parts of the world because milk is docile and easy to milk.

Cockroach Milk

How do you obtain milk from a cockroach? Dr. Barbara Stay, professor emeritus at the University of Iowa, did much research in her career working with various entomologists entrusted to the government to study the reproduction of cockroaches. She, along with her team, discovered that Diploptera Punctata is the only cockroach that produces larvae.

It provides some milk in the intestines to feed the larvae previous to birth. The process of "milking" a cockroach is precise and difficult, but the results are surprising. In 2016, an Indian researcher analyzed the crystal structure of milk and found a protein sequence containing all essential amino acids. Also, you will find that the calories of protein, fat, sugar, and milk are 3.5 times that of cow milk.

Well, it seems impossible. But scientists have yet to find a way to produce milk in large quantities from cockroaches, but they are studying it. Well, an Indian researcher analyzed the crystal structure of cockroach milk and found that in addition to all essential amino acids, it also contains more protein and fat.

Its nutritional value is four times that of cow's milk. Yes, I don't want to believe it either, but cockroach milk may be the superfood of the future.

The Pacific beetle cockroach present in Hawaii does not lay eggs; however, produces offsprings. When embryos grow in female cockroaches, she feeds them a liquid milky substance. You might think that the process of obtaining this liquid from cockroaches is painstaking if you are skeptical about the idea of ​​cockroach milk itself.

To get this magical nutrient-rich liquid from the Pacific beetle cockroach female, scientists need to cut the insect's midgut and open the sac. But, of course, the content of female cockroaches should not be too small. Therefore, the process of collecting this milk is more troublesome, meaning you need millions of cockroaches to collect packaged cockroach milk—tablets and other products, etc.

A lab research from 1997 also shows that cockroach milk is incredibly nutritious as it provides plenty of carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, protein and all other nine essential amino acids.

According to research published in the Journal of the International Federation of Crystallography, cockroach milk comprises protein crystals and is a powerhouse for most nutrients concentrated. It is said that milk is composed of all the essential amino acids necessary for the growth of human cells.

Cockroach's milk is highly glycosylated, which means that the protein surface is covered with sugar, which can significantly increase energy. This makes cockroach milk better than any other milk that humans have ever collected or produced.

Cockroach milk is also rich in lipids that are not produced in the body. When researchers find ways to make the collection and packaging process more feasible, the whole cockroach milk will be consumed extensively.

In other words, the cockroach milk is equivalent to human breast milk.

Research co-author Sanchari Banerjee told The Times of India that “Crystals are like whole foods and they contain proteins, fats, and sugars. If you look at the protein sequence, it contains all the essential amino acids.”

The team published an article in the Journal of the International Union of Crystallography in 2016. They concluded that cockroach milk was one of the most nutritious things you could ever drink. It has 236 calories, three times more calories than buffalo milk, which contains 9.2 grams of protein per cup.

Cockroach milk is a crystallized substance and rich in proteins that are produced by certain types of cockroaches called Diploptera punctate. This species is unique for producing offspring. Members produce “milk” in the form of protein crystals and serve as food for the growing youth.

In recent years, scientists believe that this crystalline substance, like milk, is a perfect food because it is nutritious and an excellent source of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Also, cockroach milk is considered a complete source of protein that provides all nine essential amino acids, which is a protein building block that can only be achieved from the diet. This fact is important because most non-meat foods lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids.

As a result, cockroach milk is gaining attention as an alternative to non-dairy milk. However, harvesting this milk-like substance is now a labor-intensive process. When you start breastfeeding, kill the cockroach females and embryos and collect crystals from the midgut.

Currently, it is not possible to produce cockroach milk on a mass scale. It is estimated that more than 1,000 cockroaches must be killed to produce just 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of milk.

However, so far, it is almost impossible to milk cockroaches on a large scale. The only way would be to make yeast cultures with this gene for making milk. But if you ask me, this is a heavenly cake.

Besides cows, the milk of camels, goats, and even buffalo can be found all over the world. Scientists claim that almost all mammalian milk is safe to consume, including the milk of sea lions and dolphins, but the idea may be a bit suspicious. Interestingly, different types of milk have specific, unique mineral patterns that can indicate the relative nutritional importance of these elements.

Ammar Pervez
Ammar Pervez


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