A New York Times blog on the relative advantages of cow’s milk and plant based milks misses the point by looking at potential causes instead of effects. . . .

Reporting on a study in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, the piece says that an advantage of cow’s milk over soy milk is that cow’s milk contains “almost a third of the recommended Percent Daily Value of calcium,” but, while soy beverages often contain as much protein as cow’s milk, they contain “no calcium.”

This judgement commits the logical error of confusing the potential cause with the effect, off confusing the means with the goal. It assumes that the better drink is the one that contains the most calcium and not the one that most benefits bone.

But an overwhelming body of research shows that, despite the calcium content of cow’s milk, it is does not prevent osteoporosis and it does increase the risk of bone fracture. It also increases mortality.

Soy, however, does prevent osteoporosis. Studies show that soy isoflavones can stop bone loss and even reverse it (Am J Clin Nutr 1998; Am J Clin Nutr 2000). Soy isoflavones may stimulate bone building cells (Biochem Pharmacol 2000), inhibit cells that break down bone (J Cell Biochem 1996), improve calcium absorption (Biochem Pharmacol 2000) and cause less urinary loss of calcium than animal protein (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1988). Unlike cow’s milk, soy has been shown to significantly reduce fractures in menopausal women (Arch Intern Med 2005).

Unlike cow’s milk, soy is also beneficial for cancer, high blood pressure, cholesterol, menopause and more.

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For more on healthy, vegetarian eating that is healthy for you and the planet, see Linda's newest book, The All-New Vegetarian Passport: a comprehensive health book and cookbook all in one.

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