No, not just cow gives us milk! If you have been taught this lesson in school, it's time to update your knowledge. From goats, sheep, and buffalos to even horses, milk from these animals has been used for human consumption worldwide since ancient times. In fact, there are exotic and luxury milk products made from them.
I remember my grandmom advising my aunt to give goat milk to my cousin brother, who used to suffer from a poor digestive system. Apparently, that was the only milk he could tolerate. I raised my eyebrows and had a Dodo face. Goats and milk, seriously? Well, not to blame my 6-year-old-immature mind, which had identified cows as the only source of milk. But I won't be too wrong to assume that even today, most of us think animal-sourced milk for human consumption comes only from cows. Milk and other dairy products can come from other animals. Despite what you may believe, cows are not the sole source of dairy milk. Cattle, sheep, and camels provide almost all of the world's milk. As we gear up to celebrate World Milk Day on June 1, it's time to let us get sensitised about the 10 animal sources of milk other than a cow, which are procured for human consumption.
Since buffalos account for around 13% of global milk output, they are the primary dairy animals in nations s like India and Pakistan, and buffalo milk is widely consumed. Some regions in the Philippines produce a one-of-a-kind treat made from 100% water buffalo milk. Buffalo milk yields more cream, butter, and cheese because it includes more solids and is richer in fat, protein, minerals, and lactose than cow's milk. Also, cooking brings out its unique flavour, which becomes distinctively nutty due to the release of sulfhydryl compounds.
Camels have milk that is high in nutrients. On rare occasions, herders would take their camels far from home to graze, subsisting only on the milk produced by the animals. Camel milk has a commercial potential ranging from five to twenty litres daily. Due to its high caloric content, its milk is an excellent source of sustenance for those living in warm climates. Camel milk has a richer texture and a milder saltiness than cow's milk, although the taste is quite close.
Goats are responsible for around 2% of global milk production. Goat milk output has increased by over 60% in the last two daceds due to rising consumer demand for its perceived health benefits. Goat milk is abundant in vitamin A, which helps the immune system. Goat cheese, a mainstay in French cuisine, is only one of the many kinds of cheese manufactured from goat milk in France.
Sheep milk has a higher solid content than even goat milk, which is only one of its numerous advantages over cow's milk. In addition, the amounts of all 10 necessary amino acids in sheep's milk are greater than in cow's milk. Since it contains both a high concentration of solids and a high-fat percentage, sheep's milk makes excellent cheese. Feta is one of the most well-known sheep's milk cheeses. It tastes buttery and creamy, and the aftertaste is milder than cow's milk. The dairy sheep businesses in Australia and New Zealand are small but growing; sheep account for around one per cent of global milk output.
A boy drinking a glass of milk, Image Source: Pexels
Because yaks can withstand extremely low temperatures for extended periods, their milk is used as a replacement for cow's milk in several regions of the world. The increased lipid and protein content of yak milk compared to that of cows is why yak butter is so popular. Cheese and yoghurt made from yak milk have been consumed by people for many years. Since yaks produce more milk in the summer than in the winter, it is common practice to turn the surplus into butter and cheese for usage throughout the year.
Horse milk has been used for medicinal properties in Russia and Central Asia since ancient times. Kumis relies on this ingredient because of its high levels of whey protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and vitamin C. Several European countries, notably Germany, sell the substance in powder form. Traditional kumis, sometimes called airag, is a fermented horse milk drink that has been made in Mongolia for centuries.
In northern Eurasia and the taiga, where cows can't live, reindeer milk provides essential nutrition to some communities. This milk has a greater calcium concentration than cow's milk and similar lipid content. Milk is low in carbohydrates as well. Reindeer milk is abundant in fat and protein, making it a great food source for the indigenous people of Scandinavia and Russia. Modern Finnish cheeses like leipäjuusto rely on it as well.
A woman pouring milk to a cup, Image Source: Pexels
Donkey milk has been used for hundreds of years and is said to be highly nutritious. It has been said that Cleopatra used donkey milk baths to keep her skin looking young and beautiful. It tastes pretty similar to low-fat milk. Despite common assumptions, it is more easier to stomach than cow's milk. Donkey's milk is used to produce several kinds of cheese, including the Greek type known as feta.
Milk from a moose only yields one to six litres per day, but it's far higher in protein and fat than milk from a cow. This exceedingly unusual milk is consumed mainly by moose calves, although it has also been produced commercially in Sweden, Russia, and Canada. Cheese, yoghurt, and ice cream made from moose milk have been consumed by humans for millennia. The lgens Hus in the Swedish neighbourhood of Bjurholm is the only place where moose cheese is made. At up to $500 a pound, moose cheese is one of the world's most expensive cheeses.
On this World Milk Day as you sip a glass of milk or enjoy that feta cheese watermelon salad or scoop a spoonful of yoghurt remember, that all these milk didn't come only from cows. Buffalos, goats, sheep, camels, yak, horses and even donkey might have contributed to it.