This anonymous essay was submitted to Open Philanthropy's Cause Exploration Prizes contest and published with the author's permission.

I have noticed that a mixture that is 50% cashew milk and 50% cow milk taste pretty much exactly like milk (although one might want to experiment with the percentage). 

Since cashew milk is 25 calories per cup, and regular milk is 90 to 150 calories a cup (depending on fat percentage), cc milk (that is, cow + cashew milk) has vastly fewer calories than milk. And since we live in a society that values thinness, vastly fewer calories also means far more marketable. 

Therefore, we have a good opportunity to disrupt “big milk.” And in doing so, reduce the number of dairy cows that live in corporate farms. Given my priors about capitalism, I’m guessing this corresponds to vastly fewer cows that live in misery. 

And thus, my suggestion: Build a milk factory that literally just mixes cow milk and cashew milk! Or, somehow or someway, find a way to mass produce cc milk. Market it to the public as a new type of milk that has less calories and less cruelty. Call it: “I can’t believe it’s not milk!” and if widely adopted, it will reduce the number of cows that live in misery which will make the world a better place. 

Potential hiccups: 

  1. Since market demand for cashews will presumably go up, this will probably have multiple downstream effects, it’s not entirely clear whether these effects will be positive for the world. 
  2. Non-identity problems? Is reducing the number of cows in dairy farms a net positive – perhaps not for the cows that will no longer exist, but definitely for the vegan and vegetarian types that think these places are evil incarnate. 
  3. Currently, cashew milk is more expensive than cow milk, it’s not clear that mass adoption of cc milk is possible unless cc milk is price competitive with regular milk.
  4. Are my tastebuds the same as most other people’s taste buds? Synonymous milk taste might be an artifact of my own particular tastebuds. Similar problems if cc milk taste is non-uniform in general public
  5. My priors about dairy farms aren’t objective, perhaps the “milk” is not worth the squeeze, so to speak.
  6. Also unclear exactly how many fewer cows will no longer live in awful conditions.
  7. Opportunity costs more generally. 

Potential Benefits: 

  1. Less cow suffering!
  2. Disrupting the milk industry could be quite profitable in its own right – profits that presumably could be reinvested into other EA ventures. Although, cc milk is not a particularly novel and other businesses might take up these profits by releasing their own version of cc milk (still would result in less cow suffering)
  3. Lactose intolerance, cashew milk doesn’t contain lactose (I imagine) and presumably less lactose means fewer lactose intolerance episodes (however, this might also increase demand for cow milk more broadly, resulting in not as many cows in intolerable conditions as we might first imagine.)
  4. My priors about dairy farms aren’t objective, perhaps the “milk” is far worthy of the squeeze, so to speak.

Okay I’m done now. Thanks for reading!





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