Up until a couple of years ago, I still ate dairy. Not so much a glass of milk (never liked that), but a lot of ‘processed’ milk. A sandwich with cheese. Mac & cheese. Pizza with cheese. Icecream with fruit and whipped cream. Yoghurt. I quite enjoyed it! Yummie! And there’s also a whole series of products of which you do not realise that they contain dairy. Milk (or whey or milkpowder) is included in a broad scala of food items, from bread to pizzadough, crisps to sauces, chocolates to cakes, soup and bread spreads.
A couple of years ago, we went vegan. That means no animal products, so also no dairyproducts. You can read more about the reason’s why here. In a nutshell: for exactly the same reasons why I went vegetarian all those years ago: first and foremost for the animals. I also take note of the environmental aspect and the health reasons involved.
Stolen mother’s milk
I see dairy in a totally different light now. I see it as mother’s milk of cows, sheep and goats who have been subjected to abuse, and after a life of exploitation end up in the slaughterhouse. I see cheese as curdled, putrified and molded mother’s milk. By no means any longer as yummie, but as yuk 😦 It’s not that I see mother’s milk as such as foul (on the contrary, mammals – and hence also humans – naturally feed their offspring with mother’s milk) but when I see milk I see the suffering inflicted on the animals who are used for the production of dairy. A complete gestaltshift. Once I had realized the amount of suffering involved in dairy farming, I could not go back to how I saw milk before.
It is so strange that we are indoctrinated into thinking that humans need cow’s milk. As if we could not live without it. But we do not need cow’s milk, just as we do not need dog’s milk, camel’s milk nor elephant’s milk. Calcium for example, can be found in plenty of plant based foods (green leafy vegetables, pulses, cabbages, dried figs and dates, etc.).
Humans are the only species that keep drinking milk up until adulthood, and more particularly the milk of another animal species. In itself, this is not an argument for or against drinking milk: humans do a lot of other things that other animal species do not do, that does not make those acts good or bad.
As mentioned above, my primary reason not to consume any dairy is the ethical aspect: how cows (and goats and sheep) and their offspring are treated and eventually killed.
But I do find this a good eye-opener when people ask me why I do not consume any dairy products. To make them think about what milk actually is: mother’s milk, which was destined for her infant. Subsequently, other aspects of the dairy industry can be brought up. How male calves and goat bucks are ‘redundant’ for the dairy industry and are taken away from their mother at a very early age and end up in the slaughterhouse (this also happens in organic dairy production). How cows will bellow constantly because they are calling out for their calves who have been taken away shortly after birth. That the volume of milk produced by a cow has more than doubled in half a century. That cows can get painful udder infections and because of their huge udder have difficulty walking or lying down. That a cow does not ‘give milk’ out of the blue, but that cows are repeatedly (artificially) inseminated and made pregnant, and after a life of incessantly being milked end up in the slaughterhouse.
A complete gestaltshift. Once I realized the amount of suffering involved in dairy farming, I could not go back to how I saw milk before.
So don’t you miss dairy?
It is a very strang experience to be sitting on a terrace on a nice sunny summer’s day amidst people who are enjoying ice cream. Waffles with whipped cream. Who are drinking a cappuccino or caffe latte. Also on restaurant: soup with cream, dairy sauces, dishes that are covered in melted butter or cheese, cheese as an appetizer or dessert. There’s dairy everywhere, I find it surreal. Everywhere I look I see people devouring these ‘tasty’ dishes and finding them delicious. While I see the cruelty behind it.
There are now so many plantbased alternatives for dairy. So no, I do not miss it one bit. I no longer see dairy as yummie, but as stolen mother’s milk and really cannot eat it anymore.
This post was previously posted in Dutch. Je kan deze post ook in het Nederlands lezen op mijn andere blog: hier.