There’s a third choice if you can’t — or don’t like — drinking cow or nut-based milks: donkey milk.
It might sound new, but people have been drinking donkey milk for centuries — Cleopatra was said to have bathed in it, and Pope Francis’ mother regularly gave him donkey milk when she couldn’t produce enough breast milk.
So, why isn’t it more popular? Companies like Sweden-based Eurolactis are trying to bring it to the masses, but it takes considerably more effort to get. According to the company, it takes 15 donkeys to make one gallon of milk — and it has to be taken by hand — making it considerably more expensive than the moo juice found in stores.
“We’d been producing donkey milk all the time, at the price of 40 euros (about $44) per liter,” farm manager Jovan Vukadinovic told the BBC in 2013. “Donkey milk is very nutritious and can strengthen a baby’s immunity.”
It turns out there is some research to back up his claims. One study published earlier this year found that it helps prevent the hardening of arteries, and another published in the Journal of Food Science declared that donkey milk is a pharmafood full of nutrients and healthy fatty acids.
A growing number of skin care companies are also adding donkey milk to their products. The reason: It’s hydrating and has plenty of vitamin C, along with other skin-healthy ingredients like vitamins A, D and E.
Will donkey milk ever make it mainstream? Probably not, but the increasing number of positive studies on it almost guarantees that we’ll see it pop up in health food stores around the United States — and maybe it already has. I’m not a big milk person, unless it comes in cheese or ice cream form, but I’ll give it a whirl if I ever see it.