This unique research combines the analyses of lipid residues in pottery vessels with slaughter profiles for domesticated ruminants to provide compelling evidence for diverse subsistence strategies in the northern Mediterranean basin during the Neolithic. Our findings show that the exploitation and processing of milk varied across the region, although most communities began to exploit milk as soon as domesticates were introduced between 9,000 and 7,000 y ago. This discovery is especially noteworthy as the shift in human subsistence toward milk production reshaped prehistoric European culture, biology, and economy in ways that are still visible today. In the absence of any direct evidence, the relative importance of meat and dairy productions to Neolithic prehistoric Mediterranean communities has been extensively debated. Here, we combine lipid residue analysis of ceramic vessels with osteo-archaeological age-at-death analysis from 82 northern Mediterranean and Near Eastern sites dating from the seventh to fifth millennia BC to address this question. The findings show variable intensities in dairy and nondairy activities in the Mediterranean region with the slaughter profiles of domesticated ruminants mirroring the results of the organic residue analyses. The finding of milk residues in very early Neolithic pottery (seventh millennium BC) from both the east and west of the region contrasts with much lower intensities in sites of northern Greece, where pig bones are present in higher frequencies compared with other locations. In this region, the slaughter profiles of all domesticated ruminants suggest meat production predominated. Overall, it appears that milk or the by-products of milk was an important foodstuff, which may have contributed significantly to the spread of these cultural groups by providing a nourishing and sustainable product for early farming communities.