In maybe one of the most unexpected beefs of 2023, we’re currently in the midst of a very serious, very dramatic, and very gen Z “milk war.” This year will mark the battle between the dairy drinkers and the plant-based bandits. Alternative milks such as oat, almond, and coconut have become a defining symbol of gen Zers’ dedication to all things liberal, eco-friendly, and quirky. And now it seems as though those pesky millennials are fighting back, and they’re bringing their cows with them.
In late April, beloved actress Aubrey Plaza starred in a parodic milk commercial for a fake company called Wood Milk. During the two-minute ad, the Parks and Recreations star strolls through a lush green forest, wearing a plaid shirt and classic farmer-esque gilet. There’s some tree-hugging and fondling, and at one point, Plaza dumps and partially inhales a pile of wood shavings.
It’s pretty obvious from the jump what the ad is trying to do: make fun of all of the alternative milk options out there these days. One of the most blatant digs has to be when Plaza smirks and then delivers the deadpan line: “If you can’t pick your favourite [flavour], that’s okay, because they all taste like wood.”
Just as the commercial comes to a close, we get an even more ‘in your face oat milk girlies’ moment. Plaza turns to the camera and sarcastically says to the audience: “Is Wood Milk real? Absolutely not. Only real milk is real.” Then black text on the screen reads “IS YOUR MILK REAL?” and the ad ends with the infamous “Got milk?” slogan.
According to Vox, what began as a light-hearted little generation tiff, has now turned into a full on feud. Supposedly, Plaza was mocking all of our favourite plant-based milks on behalf of the Milk Processor Education Program, or MilkPEP, the quasi-governmental dairy industry organisation administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that ran the “Got milk?” campaigns of the 1990s and 2000s.
And, as it turns out, the ad may actually be illegal. On 25 May, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a group that advocates for plant-based eating, filed a complaint to halt the “unlawful” Wood Milk advertising campaign.
As laid out in the documentation, federal law prohibits companies such as MilkPEP from engaging in “any advertising that may be false or misleading or disparaging to another agricultural commodity.” They are also prohibited from making any “false or unwarranted statements with respect to the attributes or use of any competing products.”
It’s unclear whether or not MilkPEP will face any legal consequences. But what is evident is that this whole dairy debate cuts much deeper than any of us actually ever realised—and the fact that even if an actress appears to be trustworthy… there’s always the possibility they’ll betray you and side with the dairy queens.
Now, this isn’t the first time netizens have gotten up in arms about celebrities supporting dairy products—yes, that might be the dumbest sentence I’ve ever written. Earlier this year, Scream Queens actress Emma Roberts came under fire for posting an extensive dairy milk promotion video on her Instagram story. Gen Zers didn’t seem to appreciate the celeb informing her 20 million followers about the endless nutritional values that only real milk can provide. I don’t know about you, but the only “real” thing about cow’s milk are the very “real” stomach issues it gives me.
Either way, the gloves are off and while the plant-based girlies might be a tad deficient of calcium, they’re armed with a torrent of eco-friendly facts, and they will not back down from a fight. So watch out Plaza, or they’ll get ya.