Globally type 1 diabetes incidence is increasing. It is widely accepted that the pathophysiology of type 1 diabetes is influenced by environmental factors in people with specific human leukocyte antigen haplotypes. We propose that a complex interplay between dietary triggers, permissive gut factors and potentially other influencing factors underpins disease progression. We present evidence that A1 β-casein cows' milk protein is a primary causal trigger of type 1 diabetes in individuals with genetic risk factors. Permissive gut factors (for example, aberrant mucosal immunity), intervene by impacting the gut's environment and the mucosal barrier. Various influencing factors (for example, breastfeeding duration, exposure to other dietary triggers and vitamin D) modify the impact of triggers and permissive gut factors on disease. The power of the dominant trigger and permissive gut factors on disease is influenced by timing, magnitude and/or duration of exposure. Within this framework, removal of a dominant dietary trigger may profoundly affect type 1 diabetes incidence. We present epidemiological, animal-based, in vitro and theoretical evidence for A1 β-casein and its β-casomorphin-7 derivative as dominant causal triggers of type 1 diabetes. The effects of ordinary milk containing A1 and A2 β-casein and milk containing only the A2 β-casein warrant comparison in prospective trials.