For the last 25 years, milk advertisers have used the iconic "Got Milk?" campaign to tout the benefits (and ~cool~ factor) of dairy. Specifically, every two years, Team USA's Olympic athletes have proudly sported bright white milk mustaches to support the notion that milk doesn't just build strong bones, but also gold-medal-winning athletes. (Indeed, Kristi Yamaguchi just recreated her "Got Milk?" ad to celebrate the anniversary of her Olympic win in 1992.) After all, what could be more wholesome than an American athlete fueling a gold-medal performance with a tall glass of milk?
Well, to the six athletes featured in the new Switch 4 Good commercial, it's anything but.
The ad, which played for the first time during the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Games closing ceremony, shows Olympic athletes proudly stating that they've ditched dairy and live a plant-based lifestyle. The lineup includes weightlifter Kendrick Farris, swimmer Rebecca Soni, sprinter Malachi Davis, soccer player Kara Lang, alpine skier Seba Johnson, and cyclist Dotsie Bausch, who is leading the charge in the campaign. The mission behind Switch 4 Good is to raise awareness about the "big four" benefits of switching to a plant-based diet: health, performance, sustainability, and ethics.
"I switched to a whole-foods, plant-based diet about two and a half years before the 2012 Olympic Games," says Bausch. "I stood on the Olympic podium at almost 40 years old, the oldest competitor ever in my specific discipline. My diet change was the key factor in me being able to recover quicker, decrease inflammation, and have all of the stamina and energy I needed to compete against competitors who were 20 years my junior. When I won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic games, I was 100 percent vegan."
This isn't the first splash that plant-based, dairy-free life has made in the typical All-American pool of milk: Khloé Kardashian got people buzzing when she said that giving up dairy totally changed her body. Documentaries like Forks Over Knives and What the Health have had people seriously considering the switch to total veganism. Plenty of people are adopting more plant-based (though not necessarily vegan) diets as a sort of in-between option. Not to mention, there's the unbelievable selection of non-dairy milk options that are now available pretty much anywhere: Pea milk? Oat milk? Algae milk? The options are never-ending. And the dairy milk industry is seeing a visible shift on the grocery store shelves too; milk consumption in the U.S. has been steadily declining since the mid-'90s, according to AdAge. Meanwhile, compared with 2004, there are now more than five times as many Google searches for "dairy free":
Plenty of experts still argue that the benefits of traditional dairy outweigh any negative health risks and, let's be honest, giving up cheese and ice cream forever is a tall order for most people. But this Switch 4 Good commercial certainly marks a shift in the mainstream perspective on dairy and human health.
So, the milk mustache might soon be no more—or, at least, it could be made from almond milk.