Mum: Rehana, where does milk come from?
Little me: Milk comes from cows.
But no, little Rehana, no. Milk for humans does not come from cows. My mother fed me the wrong information, but I don’t blame her – she didn’t know then what I do know now. Cow’s milk is not meant for human consumption – period. Consider the following: we are the one and only species on our planet that regularly consumes the milk of another animal. Unnatural, isn’t it? We drink cow’s breast milk out of habit and nothing else, when in fact the only mammal’s milk you should be drinking is from your mother’s breast alone – and even then only during your early infancy.
Everyone knows that eating too much cheese makes you fat and unhealthy. No one ever had weight and heart problems from consuming too much tofu. Still think consuming dairy is natural?
Cow’s milk is meant for baby cows, otherwise known as calves, and we, humans, steal it. I can’t put it any other way. We think it’s okay to take the food intended for a baby cow, but it simply isn’t. Consuming milk from cows – or any other animal for that matter – is ethically diabolical. You, the dairy consumer, is fuelling the inhumane practices used in the dairy industry. Did you know that dairy cows can live up to 20 years, but those that humans abuse and pump full of antibiotics and hormones last four years at the most and then collapse from exhaustion – they literally drop dead from being over-milked. They are artificially inseminated repeatedly over the course of their short, torture-filled lives, and endure the trauma of having their babies snatched from them immediately after birth again and again. These calves are then taken to veal houses where they are kept in extremely confined spaces and tied up to prevent their muscles from developing, and fed a completely liquid diet to keep their young flesh tender before being slaughtered at just four months old. Consuming milk, butter and cheese from cows perpetuates these practices and indirectly condones the existence of them. Whenever you buy cow’s milk you are saying it’s fine for this treatment of animals to occur around the world. It isn’t okay by me.
97% of all dairy calves in the US are forcibly taken from their mothers within 12 hours of being born. On some “humane” dairy farms, calves are taken within the first hour of birth as it is considered less stressful when mother and calf have not yet bonded – Figures taken from a 2009 report by the US Department of Agriculture.
Do not fear my milk-drinking kinsmen. You can still drink milk and be ethically conscious at the same time – yay! Human-friendly milk is made from soya beans, almonds, oats, sesame seeds, rice, coconut and poppy seeds to name but a few. I haven’t always been a vegan – I used to be one of the milk-consuming masses, but since turning vegan last year, I have stepped into a new continent of culinary possibilities. The choice is astounding and I’m constantly learning ever more about plant super foods and natural, vegan alternatives.
But hold your vegan horses. After much research and many late nights reading into the early hours, I discovered that the non-dairy vegan milk alternatives in the supermarket, while certainly being better than dairy, still have added ingredients and preservatives in them. Darn! However, I found a remedy for this: I make non-dairy milk myself in my own kitchen, using only soya beans, water and my milk maker. While you are perfectly able to make soya or any other kind of non-dairy milk without special equipment (a hob, blender and sieve will do, I’m told), I have grown to love this piece of kitchen equipment. I mean, seriously, it makes my life – both as a vegan and as someone who does not wish to include dairy in my diet – so easy. I’d like to point out that there are other non-dairy milk makers out there, I just happen to have a British-made one from Hopps and Woolf, and I think it’s the bees knees – please see my accompanying YouTube video called Making Vegan Milk / The Cat who got the Soya Milk to see this bad boy in action.
If the whole idea of making your own milk seems like a right palaver, then I ask that you open your mind and buy any non-dairy milk from your supermarket the next time you visit. Non-vegans have been known to love almond, soya and other non-dairy milks just as much as vegans. Maybe you will join them and then you too can take a stance against the cruelty and suffering involved in the dairy industry.
Present me: Where does milk come from?
The world: Soya beans, almonds, oats, rice, sesame seeds, poppy seeds and coconuts.
My younger self stands corrected.