An Experiment Comparing the Taste of Cow's Milk to Human Breast Milk

Updated on January 18, 2020
Healthy Pursuits profile image

Karla has always had medium-sized dogs, but she now shares her home with a lovely little Dachshund.

A Distinct Difference in Flavors and Textures: My Eyes Were Opened!

After having her baby, a friend's grown daughter had a very large output of breast milk, much more than her baby could drink. So she decided to pump some of it for premature babies. She froze it, and it was picked up once a week by a volunteer.

My friend's daughter and new grandbaby were staying with her because her daughter's husband was in the service. She was having a great time with her first grandchild in her home, where she could hold him any time she wanted.

That was why my friend had access to human breast milk and why I was involved in one of her experiments. She has the quirkiest sense of curiosity; she'll try things other people wouldn't want anything to do with. She was on the insect bandwagon very early. She still buys packages of cooked, seasoned grasshoppers (without the legs) for those times she wants to have something crunchy in her salad. Most of the time, I'm sporting enough to follow her lead. (I've had grasshoppers in my salad at her house, and the combo is actually pretty good.) But I doubt that I'll ever be the leader when trying new dishes with this extreme cuisine aficionado.

It was no surprise to me that she eventually tried her daughter's breast milk. However, I didn't know that she had until I visited her one day, and she had an experiment ready for me. She had poured a few teaspoons of milk into two paper cups. When I asked what I would be drinking, she would only tell me that they were two types of milk. She wanted to know which one I preferred.

She asked me to taste the breast milk first. It was light and pleasantly sweet, and had both vanilla and almond hits. The almond-like flavor made me think it was some new kind of almond milk. If so, I planned to buy some on my way home. Both the complex flavor and the light creaminess I felt on my tongue were very pleasing. I hoped it wasn't too packed with calories, because I knew that I would drink this milk regularly.

Then she had me try the second milk. It was terrible! It had a heavy and, after the first milk, an unwholesome taste, with an extremely chalky, almost gritty, feel on my tongue. It felt wrong in my mouth after the "almond" milk and it was even a little revolting. That was the cow's milk I had been drinking my whole life.

When she told me what the two types of milk were (and after I recovered from my surprise) I was amazed! After drinking milk that was specific to me as a human, I didn't recognize cow's milk and I didn't like it at all. I remembered the years of looking forward to a glass of cold milk and enjoying it thoroughly. I couldn't imagine how I had ever done it. That only proves that we can get used to anything.

I haven't had a glass of cow's milk since I tasted human milk. I had leaned towards almond or soy milk before that and made a total switch to them that day. The feeling of the cow's milk being totally wrong in my mouth, without even knowing what kind of milk I was drinking or what kind of milk I had just been drinking, caused a profound shift in my thinking about milk. I still eat cheese and yogurt, but my memory of the difference in the milks remains very clear.

I'm ok with eating cheese and yogurt because I have never thought of them as anything but another food. Before the experiment, I hadn't realized that I equated cow's milk with mother's milk - human milk. Now that I am aware that I think of all milk in that way, I'm glad that, if we don't drink human milk as adults, I have milk from vegetable sources handy. I don't think I would ever like another mammal's milk again.

I can see why babies like breast milk so much and why they look so contented. Between almonds and vanilla on your tongue and mama's arms holding you, what could be a better beginning to life?

© 2011 Karla Iverson


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    • profile image


      14 months ago

      Hey that picture of the girl flashing the cows is my sister Sam lol

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I wonder how breast milk taste compared to baby formula?

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      7 years ago from Oregon

      Thank you, CarNoobz! and thanks for following me.

    • CarNoobz profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      I'm finding this...freakishly...interesting...

      Voted up and... and... AWESOME =D

      That pic was hilarious too lol

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      7 years ago from Oregon

      It definitely was an experience, Kimberly. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

      Kimberly Vaughn 

      7 years ago from Midwest

      I have never tried human breastmilk but your description of it is very interesting. Great hub!

    • johndnathan profile image

      John D Nathan 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas. USA

      You're right. I apologize. That's more of a biathlon.

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      7 years ago from Oregon

      johndnathan, I've worked as a computer analyst, so I know how weird some of those topics can be. With the abuses of milk cows that are allowed in the factory farming industry, I agree that human breast milk is cleaner. I don't think that women who've just had a baby are into mud-wrestling. So the first part of a triathalon is out. As for a triathalon that also includes breast feeding, that's definitely weird nerd watercooler conversation. I won't ask what the third part of the triathalon would be. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to know. :)

    • johndnathan profile image

      John D Nathan 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas. USA

      Great article!

      For some reason we were standing around the office the other day discussing breast milkshakes (I work in a technical helpdesk, so we're kinda weird), and we were wondering how it would taste.

      Also the thought of having human milk does sound more appealing. I'm sure a woman's breasts are cleaner than a cow's udder, well except during the mud-wrestling/breast-feeding triathlon.

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      7 years ago from Oregon

      I hadn't thought about the idea that it was a bodily fluid - breast milk just doesn't seem to fit that category, even though I guess it does. If you get the opportunity, I would encourage you to sidestep hesitation and taste it. You'll be amazed at how right it tastes. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, LauraGT.

    • LauraGT profile image


      7 years ago from MA

      Great story! I never had the gall to try my own (other than a drop or two - that's all I ever had to spare), but I was curious as well. I'm glad you had the opportunity, (though you're friend is lucky she didn't get sued - breast milk is a bodily fluid after all!) and that you can expose the truth to others. :)

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      I hear you on that one! I think that most of us would be grossed out if we were asked to try it. But, I swear, it's delicious, and it must feel very right, down through our very genes, because I felt happy just tasting it - before I even knew it was just-for-humans milk! I think we don't want to taste it because it has a whole combination hits - a learned revulsion against human body fluids, sex, cannibalism, etc.

      However, I'm glad my friend didn't tell me what it was, because it ended up being one of those eye-opening experiences. If it was available on the market now, I have to admit that I'd probably buy it - but I wouldn't waste it by putting it on cereal or anything. My friend has pushed my boundaries a couple of different times, and I've been glad she did it.

      I'd like to compare goat's milk to human milk, too. (I like goat's milk, but it doesn't like me.) I wonder if it would turn me off to the taste of it to compare it to human milk.

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      8 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      The thought also makes me feel nauseous, lol. Not sure why. I had a friend whose husband insisted on nursing, when her babies were young. Also grossed me out. I guess it seems... socially perverted? I don't consider me a prude, but I am most certainly in this case.

      I wonder how you would react to goat's milk? We drink almond milk and hazelnut milk here, because my son was so allergic to cow's milk. I am very very sad I was pressured to quit nursing him when he was 9 months old. It was certainly not my desire.

      I don't feel judgmental about you and this experiment, btw. I find it interesting that human milk tastes like this, in fact. I just don't want to try it, hahaha!!!

    • Healthy Pursuits profile imageAUTHOR

      Karla Iverson 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      I know what you mean. I don't know that I would have tasted it if I had known what it was. But that's just what we've been trained to feel. I think our society has sexualized the breast until it's an odd combination of nourishment for our babies and something a little naughty or even nasty.

    • Rain Defence profile image

      Rain Defence 

      8 years ago from UK

      I've always felt slightly nauseous at the idea of drinking breast milk as an adult. I'm sure I probably loved it as a baby, but I wouldn't try it now.


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