March 15th, 2017

What kind of milk do you drink?

Or do you drink it at all?

I don’t. It’s part of my generalized dislike of any flavored beverage (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look here). But for milk I reserve a special repugnance. The last time I can remember liking it, or at least thinking I might like it, I was around two years old. After that it became a gummy, icky sort of thing, and I’d watch in bafflement as others swilled it down and sang its praises.

As a young adult, I also discovered I was lactose intolerant. I forget why they decided to test me, but in those days the definitive test was to fast overnight, have your blood drawn to measure your blood sugar, and then drink a vat of lactose (actually, about 12 ounces, which is a pretty big swig) in liquid form. That’s much much more than you’d ordinarily get in a serving of milk. Then every half hour they’d draw blood again, for about three hours or so.

A normal milk-digesting person’s blood sugar would rise somewhat and then start falling in predictable fashion. And the person would be feeling okay in the meantime, although a bit like a pincushion. As for me, my blood sugar never responded to the drink at all, which meant that my body was completely unable to digest the milk sugar in it. I was told that there are degrees of inability to digest lactose, and I exhibited the highest degree possible: 100% lactose intolerant.

Which was no sorrow to me, since I never had any inclination to drink milk in the first place. I still seem to do fine with yogurt and cheese, which contain a lot less lactose.

But that test—oh, that test! I got so sick within about a half hour of drinking that vile concoction that I spent most of the next five hours or so in the bathroom. It was a highly unpleasant day, one I hope to never repeat. And I’m not sure anyone else will ever have to repeat it, because I heard that years later they invented a much kinder, gentler test that didn’t involve a huge lactose challenge like that.

Which brings us to this article about problems with certain proteins in milk versus problems with lactose (milk sugar):

But, according to Miller [who is a dietician], compelling scientific research suggests people may not be reacting to lactose, but to a protein found in milk called A1.

‘As cows’ milk protein allergy can be diagnosed relatively easily and doesn’t tend to last into adulthood, the traditional view is that people with continued problems with milk are lactose intolerant.’

‘There are two major proteins in milk, whey and casein. Within the latter, there are two subtypes called A1 and A2. These are natural genetic variants that occur in cows’ milk.’

‘While human breast milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and all other mammalian milks only contain A2 type protein; the A1 protein seems to be only found in European dairy cows,’ says Miller.

And the push for diversity aside, American cows are basically European cows in terms of their protein.

This is not a new issue, although it’s new to me. Here’s Wiki on the evolutionary history:

Scientists believe the difference originated as a mutation that occurred between 5000 and 10,000 years ago—as cattle were being taken north into Europe—when the proline at position 67 was replaced by histidine, with the mutation subsequently spreading widely throughout herds in the western world through breeding.

The percentage of the A1 and A2 beta-casein protein varies between herds of cattle, and also between countries and provinces. While African and Asian cattle continue to produce only A2 beta-casein, the A1 version of the protein is common among cattle in the western world. The A1 beta-casein type is the most common type found in cow’s milk in Europe (excluding France), the USA, Australia and New Zealand. On average, more than 70 percent of Guernsey cows produce milk with predominantly A2 protein, while among Holsteins and Ayrshires between 46 and 70 percent produce A1 milk.

Much of the previous brouhaha about health risks seems to have been about things like cancer and diabetes, and there’s no scientifically-accepted indication that A1 milk is any more harmful in terms of those diseases than A2 milk is. But what about GI discomfort, as reported in the Daily Mail article to which I linked? Perhaps, but the evidence is weak.

All of this is just a way to segue into this question: do you like milk? Do you drink it regularly? If so, is it just with cereal (that, even I can understand)? Or do you chug down a huge glass of it with meals?

38 Responses to “What kind of milk do you drink?”

  1. parker Says:

    Milk is for growing bodies. Calcium for bones. My milk consumption is limited to half and half in coffee. The calcium I need to aid my old bones can be found in cheese and various vegetables.

  2. Brian E Says:

    Mostly I use it in cereal, and rarely drink a glass anymore.

    When I was a kid I drank so much milk I got a build up of calcium and had to quit drinking it. But then I never broke a bone, so maybe that was due to all that calcium.

    My wife’s family had a dairy farm, so when we visited (once a month), we drank milk straight from the cow (OK, straight from the storage tank). I think Holsteins have about 3.5% fat, while Jerseys is closer to 5%. They raised Holsteins as they gave the most milk, even though fat content was a component of the price they were paid.

  3. huxley Says:

    Half-and-half with tea or coffee.

    I’ll have milk with cereal except I don’t eat cereal anymore.

    I’m in the Gary Taubes camp favoring fat over bad carbs.

  4. Julia Says:

    Gross. I can use it in cooking, and even in cereal (when I eat it, which is rare). I’ve disliked it for so many years – since at least high school, and I’m 50.

    I can drink chocolate milk, but had some whole choco millk a month or two when I was sick and almost threw up from the sweetness. Not sure if it was the brand (with added sugar) or the fact it was whole and not 2%.

    Odd true confession – I do like buttermilk, with some salt on the surface. It’s so “not milk” it’s ok, as long as I don’t think too much about it. We all have our food oddities…

  5. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    How anyone can prefer a pbj sandwich without milk is beyond me. Cookies taste better with a cold glass of milk too and milk stored in a glass container tastes better than from either a plastic or carton.

  6. Brian Swisher Says:

    I have a glass of 4% with my bacon and eggs in the morning.

  7. Mike K Says:

    A good way to become lactose intolerant is to stop drinking milk at age 2. Everyone in my family and extended family drank milk well into adulthood. In Argentina, kids drink coffee at an early age and I will bet that lactose intolerance is high.

    It does seem to be high.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike K:

    I think you have it reversed.

    The ability to digest lactose is lost after toddlerhood in certain populations, and as a result they don’t like milk and often stop drinking it at an early age. See this:

    This is the most common type of lactose intolerance. People who develop primary lactose intolerance start life producing plenty of lactase — a necessity for infants, who get all their nutrition from milk. As children replace milk with other foods, their lactase production normally decreases, but remains high enough to digest the amount of dairy in a typical adult diet.

    In primary lactose intolerance, lactase production falls off sharply, making milk products difficult to digest by adulthood. Primary lactose intolerance is genetically determined, occurring in a large proportion of people with African, Asian or Hispanic ancestry. The condition is also common among those of Mediterranean or Southern European descent.

    That’s me.

    There’s also this:

    Secondary lactose intolerance

    This form of lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine decreases lactase production after an illness, injury or surgery involving your small intestine. Among the diseases associated with secondary lactose intolerance are celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth and Crohn’s disease. Treatment of the underlying disorder may restore lactase levels and improve signs and symptoms, though it can take time.

    In populations without lactose intolerance, if milk-drinking decreases after toddlerhood, lactase (the enzyme needed to digest milk) falls off but is still produced in sufficient enough quantities so as not to cause problems. In the lactose intolerant, that’s not the case—they lose the ability to digest milk.

    By the way, although I disliked milk, I drank some of it right through my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood, because I thought it was good for me. I used it mostly in cereal, but I definitely used it. So I wouldn’t say I actually had stopped drinking it entirely, back when I had that test. But I had certainly stopped drinking it for pleasure, or drinking a glass of it.

    I don’t drink it at all anymore, even in cereal, and haven’t for many many years.

  9. GRA Says:

    I was born premature so to help gain weight I was told to drink whole milk. To this day I’m fine with whole milk whereas skim milk taste like water to me. I dont drink milk regularly now since I switched to almond milk (I had a friend who drank almond milk and got me curious about it as an alternative).

  10. Yancey Ward Says:

    I have always drank a lot- with cereal which I have about 6 days a week, with sandwiches, and with many of the meals I make for myself at home. I don’t order it in restaurants.

    I do drink less than I did growing up- maybe about half as much now at age 50.

  11. mezzrow Says:

    I am a milkman’s child, and am therefore prejudiced on the subject, and a fan of milk and milk products. When I was a child he worked for a dairy that sold “Golden Guernsey” milk, from a local herd of Guernsey cattle. The stuff was noticeably more yellow in color, and for those who like milk it was ambrosia. I later became friends of members of the family that owned the herd, and the family that managed it, and the fresh milk from their cattle was the best milk I’ve ever tasted.

    I find the data in your post very interesting. Fresh milk is a commodity product like so much else these days. I’ve made good money myself running a retail milk route, something that basically no longer exists in this modern world. It helps me form my perspective on how things change.

  12. parker Says:


    Buttermilk is great as a liquid in cornbread batter or when making smashed potatoes. Like the tang it introduces.

  13. DNW Says:

    Since you ask …

    My ninety year old father still drinks milk.

    I’ve been told, and can barely remember, that I was a voracious milk drinker as a child. That is, until an older and frugal aunt who had let her penny-pinching go too far, handed me a glass of milk [an event I do well remember] that was … ahem.

    Still remember as well, my mother’s dumbfounded reaction to her, as if she would have liked to smack her one but felt pity for her and the stupidity she had just witnessed. We were summer guests at their lake cottage at the time.

    Anyway, you get the picture. Sicker than a dog. Couldn’t even look at milk for years after.

    Remember drinking it again in college as a way gulping something down under hectic conditions between classes. Might have been able to get it down by high school for that matter.

    It’s one of those things, like eggs, that don’t particularly appeal to me as an idea, and that I mostly ignore; but when getting around to it, to leave me feeling pretty well after consuming them. No trouble digesting milk. Cold though. Has to be very cold, and very very fresh.

    Don’t eat cereal … except for oatmeal.

  14. DNW Says:

    Your angle on this focuses on the cows.

    As you know for some years now there has been speculation in how lactose tolerance developed so rapidly in European populations across the board.

    This guy’s presentation leaves much to be desired, but you can kind of hurry through to get the gist.

    University of California Television (UCTV)

  15. J.J. Says:

    I’ve always been able to take it or leave it – milk that is. Used skim milk on cereal because of the dreaded FAT.

    Two months ago I had a surgery (incisional hernia repair) where everything that could go wrong, did.

    After two weeks in the hospital I was released. I had no appetite and no sense of taste. I had lost weight in hospital (two weeks on sugar water or intravenous feeding.) and had little energy. I needed calories to regain strength and weight. But I could barely force myself to eat anything – except milk. My doctor advised that I opt for whole milk for the extra calories. I didn’t relish it, but I didn’t have the urge to throw it up that came with everything else. For two weeks I drank a half gallon of whole milk every day and began to add food that I could force down along with the milk. (ice cream, jello, bread soaked in milk, protein powder mixed in milk, etc.) I slowly regained my strength and after a month was able to eat more substantial food but without any appetite for it. Only in the last two weeks has my appetite become somewhat normal.

    When I was so weak, whole milk was the one thing I could eat and keep down. I’m grateful that it was available in my time of need.

  16. M J R Says:

    2% with cereal, when I eat cereal. That’s it, fans.

    As a beverage, meh. I don’t like the sticky after-film and I don’t like the aftertaste (which may be imagined, but I don’t like it).

  17. Sarah Rolph Says:

    Yikes, JJ, sorry to hear about that terrible event. And in that context, three cheers for milk!

    I buy whole milk now because it keeps much better and we don’t go through that much of it. I drink a glass of milk with cookies every once in a while, and I like to use hot milk in cafe au lait. Or hot chocolate. I drank skim milk for a while back when they said it was good for us but I never liked the taste of it.

    We drank a lot of milk when I was little. It was a thing at school, a treat and a near-requirement, you took your milk money every day, which was a nickel, I think, and at morning recess you would buy milk. It came in a little waxed carton and my memory is that it was nice and cold.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    Sarah Rolph Says:
    March 15th, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    “I buy whole milk now because it keeps much better and we don’t go through that much of it. I drink a glass of milk with cookies every once in a while, and I like to use hot milk in cafe au lait. Or hot chocolate. I drank skim milk for a while back when they said it was good for us but I never liked the taste of it.”
    * * *
    Ditto and ditto (especially ginger cookies) and ditto (chocolate) and ditto.
    Whole milk has a texture that appeals to me as a comfort food. I can drink the alternatives, but don’t LIKE them as much — I prefer a particular type that has a heavier texture but fewer calories than milk: Kroger’s Dream Blends Original Unsweetened Coconut, Almond, and Chia Drink.

    “We drank a lot of milk when I was little. It was a thing at school, a treat and a near-requirement, you took your milk money every day, which was a nickel, I think, and at morning recess you would buy milk. It came in a little waxed carton and my memory is that it was nice and cold.”

    Oh, man, those were the days! If Mom was feeling generous, she gave us an extra nickel to get chocolate (orange juice was also an option). Our janitor kept a freezer in his workroom, full of ice cream cups and bars-on-a-stick etc, that he sold during recess after lunch. Try doing THAT under today’s DOE brownshirts.

    BTW, new studies have validated the common sense feeling that most ADHD in boys comes from lack of activity; now they advise 2 short recess periods in the morning and 2 in the afternoon (we only had one each), plus lunch recess (where they actually play, not just mill around outside or sit in rows on the sidewalk because teachers can’t be bothered to supervise).
    Plus the other benefits (what’s the good of all that DOE regulation and Education School training if they still turn out teachers who don’t know this?)
    “When recess is withheld as a punishment for misbehavior or incomplete academic work, teachers and children suffer. Teachers who know the benefits of recess for ADHD kids never withhold it.

    First, “acting out” behavior is less frequent among children who go to recess. Students, with or without ADHD, show improved attention, working memory, and mood after physical activity.

    Second, playing with classmates helps children develop and sharpen social skills. Recess is the pause that refreshes.”

  19. edwhy Says:

    I love milk, grew up drinking whole milk by the gallon. Then I went overseas for 20 years and almost never had the opportunity to drink it. When I returned to the States, I began again, first with whole, then 2% and the last 10 years no-fat. I rarely drink it with meals as I learned to love wine while abroad. I now drink a gallon (or more) of each per week. I’m approaching 80 and have yet to see any downside to the consumption of either.

  20. Luke Says:

    I grew up drinking milk at dinner, but stopped in college. A few years ago in our 50s my wife and I started drinking (whole) milk at dinner again. I love it.

  21. Liz Says:

    I’ll drink milk, but I am now getting a smaller container since I don’t go through it as fast. However, I can go through a container of regular sour cream, regular cottage cheese and greek yogurt every week. I use unsalted butter. I’ll get a container of almond milk every now and then. And Blue Bell Ice Cream as a treat.

    I tend to get my fats through dairy products since I eat chicken, fish and, on occasional, lean beef.

  22. Philip Says:

    I don’t remember when I stopped drinking milk, but it was quite a few years ago, sometime in college. I definitely was drinking some milk in college, but I think by grad school, I’d stopped.

    I eat a reasonable amount of cheese and use powdered milk in cooking on occasion. I don’t believe I’m lactose-intolerant, but have never really put it to the test.

  23. OM Says:

    Non-fat, 2%, whole, and now non-, 2%, and whole varieties as a treat.

    Fair Life milk is advertized to have more protein, calcium, and half the lactose (filtered apparently).

    The ultra-pasteurized milk keeps longer in the fridge. The only kind of milk I won’t try is “raw,” unpasteurized.

  24. texexec Says:

    I like milk. I drink it every morning with a breakfast of a bean and cheese taco with Pico de Gallo and Pace salsa. I also drink it with Wolf brand chili…settles my stomach.

    How can anyone eat Oreo cookies without a cold glass of milk??

  25. neo-neocon Says:


    Well, since I can’t eat Oreos (chocolate gives me migraines), it’s not a problem.

  26. Sharon W Says:

    I didn’t like milk as a beverage from an early age, unless it was home-made chocolate milk (light on the chocolate) but used it in cereal until about 23 years old. I keep a small container of whole milk in the refrigerator for recipes. I use half and half in my coffee daily (been drinking it since childhood–a Chicago-Italian thing). I have always loved cheese and have eaten yogurt regularly for the last 20+ years. My 7 year old granddaughter loved milk and would drink it whenever possible, but was diagnosed lactose intolerant over a year ago. She misses it.

  27. OldTexan Says:

    I drink about a pint each week with cereal, whole organic milk only since I don’t use that much. I also like swiss cheese and crackers for my mid day snack and I use butter to fry a couple of eggs on mornings when I don’t eat cereal. I try to limit carbs which means I gave up cookies over a year ago but a handful of cookies with a glass of milk is nice.

    I grew up drinking at least eight oz of milk with every meal and we had a milk man who came into our house, picked up the empty bottles and refilled the fridge. It didn’t matter if anyone was home or not because the house was never locked which seems strange to me now.

    As for school, I am old enough to remember grade school where we had 15 min recess morning and afternoon and one hour for lunch where those of us who lived within a mile walked home and back and the kids who lived further paid $1.25 for a weeks worth of pretty good lunches with lots of milk. There was some sort of a government thing with the schools that a half pint of milk in a wax carton in the early 1950’s was a penny so kids with extra pennies could buy extra milk.

    Another observation is that those of us with Northern European background, reddish blonde hair and light color eyes might find it easier to use dairy products. At least it seems to be that way in my family, Scots and Irish.

  28. Esther Says:

    Oh, no milk here! I dreaded the very sight of the tall, white, looming glass of it as a child… slightly warm, faintly off… aargh… but, a nice cold glass of milk is great with Oreos.

    My mom was lactose intolerant, not really sure if I am. But, a few years back I drank a large, delicious, container of chocolate milk, with very, very ill effect. According to Wikipedia 75% of Ashkenazis are lactose intolerant, so the odds are, I am.

    On the plus side, I used my repulsion of milk to quit smoking a long time ago. A drink of milk killed my cigarette craving, and the will to live… 😛

    Though I have no problems with cream, cheese, butter, Greek yogurt or a teeny amount of condensed milk in my coffee.

    OldTexan, to affirm your observation, my husband is of Scandinavian Irish extraction and he loves milk and has zero lactose issues, lots of carb issues, but that’s another story.

  29. rigeldog Says:

    I like to have a glass of milk with dryer sweets such as cake or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.And, for some reason, when I eat spaghetti. But I totally understand Neo’s perception that it’s a gummy sort of unappealing liquid.

  30. Cornflour Says:

    Black Cow vodka

    “Situated on England’s West Dorset coast we produce the world’s only Pure Milk Vodka™ made entirely from the milk of grass grazed cows and nothing else. Fresh whole milk makes an exceptionally smooth vodka with a unique creamy character.”

    Two things that Neo won’t drink, united in one. Does a double negative make a positive?

    Now, if we could pass this out to school children … it might go over big in Wisconsin, especially during Packers games. Get the kids started early.

  31. physicsguy Says:

    “And I’m not sure anyone else will ever have to repeat it, because I heard that years later they invented a much kinder, gentler test that didn’t involve a huge lactose challenge like that.”

    Nope, still the same test. My youngest daughter is extremely lactose intolerant. She had the same test as a junior in high school with the same result as you, Neo. She’s now junior in college.

  32. Kenneth Says:

    I’m a milkoholic. No problem downing a couple of large glasses with a meal. My kids love it too. Skim is our choice. We use 2% to make iced coffee.

  33. Surellin Says:

    Stopped drinking milk in college, after that I was somewhat lactose-intolerant. I can eat ice cream in moderation, or cheese on a burger or pizza, but a real glass of milk will give me…. gastric distress.

  34. Waidmann Says:

    I like milk. Always have.

    When I used to work, I’d have a small carton of skim milk before breakfast. The idea was that the milk would gently ease my blood-sugar level upward to gently ease me into alertness and prepare me for the day’s activity. I have no idea if it actually did that, but that was the theory.

    Since then I usually drink either 1% or 2% milk. Some foods require milk–cereal, cookies, cake, some sandwiches, to name a few. My wife likes a glass of whole chocolate milk as a dessert, and I often join her.


  35. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    Being from Wisconsin, I drink milk in 16 ounce glasses. Badgers love the stuff! A regional dairy, Dean’s, makes True Moo, a chocolate milk, made with whole milk. That stuff should be a controlled substance. Man,it’s tasty!

  36. Ray Says:

    I stopped drinking the stuff after I became homophobic.

  37. AesopFan Says:

    texexec Says:
    March 15th, 2017 at 10:12 pm
    I like milk. I drink it every morning with a breakfast of a bean and cheese taco with Pico de Gallo and Pace salsa. I also drink it with Wolf brand chili…settles my stomach.

    How can anyone eat Oreo cookies without a cold glass of milk??
    * * *
    When our family was part of a mostly Hispanic church congregation in the nineties, one of the sisters told me that drinking milk would make the chili-pepper heat on my tongue go away. She was too kind to comment on my lack of intestinal (actually lingual) fortitude.

    I have other friends who are chocophobic. Sad!

  38. Donna B. Says:

    I can tolerate 2% milk on cereal but not to drink. I like ice cold whole milk, although only under certain circumstances… such as with fresh out of the oven chocolate chip cookies. OR with fresh out of the oven cornbread. (though that’s better with butter and apricot preserves.) Coldness is the factor, I think.

    I too remember the little milk cartons at school. I also remember taking Nestles QuiK (strawberry or chocolate) to flavor it with because it was never cold enough to drink straight. Thank goodness my Mama understood and let me do that.

    One year some guy paid a debt to my Dad with dairy equipment and a cow. That summer we had it all — whole milk, cream, almost fat free… etc. Because he couldn’t sell the fat free stuff, that’s what we got to drink. Yuck, and yuck. Gagging and throwing up convinced my mom not to make me drink that awful stuff. There was just enough of the good stuff to not make me a hater of milk. Thank goodness Dad sold that equipment after a few months.

    Today I buy ultra pasteurized heavy cream to use in scrambled eggs and a few other dishes. I drink black coffee and will use the cream when I occasionally eat oatmeal.

    For recipes that don’t accomodate the heavy cream, I keep a few cans of evaporated milk on hand.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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