Rethink What You Drink…I Am

A friend of mine from high school recently sent me this video. She’s a very passionate activist, hardcore vegan, and interested in spreading the word as much as she can about anti-animal cruelty. She even asked for her parents not to give her christmas gifts but to donate to local charities instead. How many of us would do that?? Anyways, I grew up on milk, and in recent years have switched to organic whole milk because I’ve learned you can absorb the nutrients better when it is paired with fat, etc. Meanwhile, in the back of my mind wondering if this is really the best way to go– especially with all of these Paleo diets going around, and even just the bizarre fact that we are the only species who drinks the milk from another species.

Milk is most effective when we are infants and due to heavily advertised campaigns by the dairy industry we have all grown up thinking that milk “builds strong bones” when in fact, all of this evidence points to the opposite. Not only that, but did you know that vegetables like collard greens have MORE calcium than milk does? And  calcium is better absorbed when eating kale and broccoli than drinking milk?

All of this was swarming around in the back of my head, but I couldn’t really get away from the delicious taste and the reality that I just love milk and dairy products. After spending a semester abroad in France, if I didn’t eat cheese and bread all day long I really would’ve had to think out of the box and get creative– they are staples. (Not to mention though, that their food quality is much better than ours, so drinking milk there is not the same as here, with our insane factory farms and injections of antibiotics galore in our meat and dairy)
After watching this video I am determined to see if this new increase in my diet of milk products– butter, cheese, milk, galore– has been preventing me from feeling my best.

I am going to embark on a dairy-free challenge and see how far it takes me.

Here are my concerns:

  • I love goat cheese
  • I love whole milk
  • I love heavy cream
  • I love cheese in general
  • I love butter
  • I love milk chocolate (this might be my hardest challenge)
  • I love bread (I gotta find bread without milk by-products now)
  • I’ll have to eat more vegetables (just kidding– I love veggies!)
Connie Weaver, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Food and Nutrition at Purdue University reported in her 2001 book chapter “Calcium,” in Present Knowledge in Nutrition:
“Calcium absorption from milk and other dairy products is about 32%, whereas calcium absorption from vegetables ranges from about 5% in spinach to more than 60% in some brassica vegetables such as broccoli. However, the high bioavailability of calcium from some vegetables cannot overcome their low calcium content. One would have to consume 2 1/4 cups of broccoli to obtain the same amount of calcium absorbed from one cup of milk.”

2001 – Connie M. Weaver, PhD 

Here are my ideas:

  • I also love almond milk
  • I also love coconut milk
  • I also, while I don’t love it, drink soy milk

Here are the things that excite me:

  • Becoming healthier by being dairy free
  • Dropping a few kilos by being dairy free
  • Replacing dairy with veggies to get calcium
  • Not getting sick as often by being dairy free
  • Benefiting our cows and our planet
  • Better complexion
  • There are options
  • Exciting recipes

There are numerous health and ethical reasons to avoid dairy products. On the health side, countless people who’ve quit dairy found that their chronic congestion, digestive problems, ear infections, or acne vanished within a few weeks. You might therefore consider going dairy-free for a month to see if doing so significantly improves your quality of life. Having said that, it’s important for everyone—meat eaters, ovo-lacto vegetarians, and vegans alike—to read up on nutrition to ensure the diet they follow isn’t deficient in any nutrients.

I shall keep you updated on my journey. For now I’m heading downstairs to grab some lunch. We’ll see what I come up with!

Bonne Sante and Bon Appetit!