In an interview with John Oliver in S04E04 of Last Week Tonight there's the exchange:

Dalai Lama: One of my previous visits in Mongolia, they drank a lot of Vodka [...] I suggested: Drink much less Vodka [...] instead of that, their traditional sort of drink, horse milk.

John Oliver: Wait, hold on. You tried to wean them off Vodka? By giving them horse milk?

Dalai Lama: Oh yes. They follow.

John Oliver: What?

Dalai Lama: Since then I think the majority of Mongolians: No longer any drink.

John Oliver: Hold on that is a huge claim. You cured Mongolians of alcoholism.

Dalai Lama: Yes.

John Oliver: Using horse milk?

Dalai Lama: Yes.

Did this story happen? Did the Dalai Lama convince the Mongolians to drink much less alcohol?


2 Answers 2


I'm guessing this may very well refer to Airag, fermented horse milk. That suggestion would make more sense (lower alcohol percentage and traditional drink) from a visitor and compared to vodka, airag is barely alcoholic (2-4%). Have not found any sources for support of the change though. Unless the visit he means was very recent, or around 2001, WHO data actually suggests an opposite trend. http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/profiles/mng.pdf

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    "Reportedly", the visit took place 1997 - books.google.de/… ...and there actually is a decline in consumption of spirits from 1998 to 2004 in the chart.
    – user39057
    Mar 6, 2017 at 10:22

Here is a story about the President of Mongolia with the campaign to switch to celebrate with milk instead of vodka. It is very likely that the President would have been persuaded to do this by the Dalai Lama. Mongolians follow Tibetan Buddhism and would revere the Dalai Lama as their supreme religious leader. http://blogs.ubc.ca/mongolia/2012/mongolia-without-vodka-cheers-with-milk/

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    That is 'just' a blog post without references. Do you have additional references that make this story more than It is very likely that?
    – user22865
    Mar 7, 2017 at 8:47

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