This blog is the product of the responses and reactions I get from people more recently when they discover I'm vegan. A lot of people are genuinely interested in how and why, which was not the case before and I think the reason for it is people are becoming more aware that their general health (energy levels, skin, weight, digestive tract) is a by-product of the food consumed. Which is excellent - Open dialogue!
Something that has always irritated me is that nutrition is one very small topic covered by doctors in their training and therefore, in my experience, the last thing to be addressed. But surely a large amount of problems doctors are faced with on a daily basis are preventable or treatable with diet and exercise? Doctors are incredible, They are a wealth of knowledge and are there for us all when we need them but I wish we had the option to visit the GP or the nutritionist or both. As it stands now private health care and the NHS in the UK cover traditional medicine only and any other information or help we want as far as food is concerned is left to us. But who has the time? AND there are so many contradicting facts out there. I'm writing this blog to try to help a little bit but I'm still only able to research when I'm feeding my baby to sleep, every other waking hour is taken up with life! So, read this blog but also keep in mind that it is of my opinion and will to live this lifestyle. I'm an advocate because I feel good for it in almost all areas.
Essentially there are two things to consider about going dairy-free:
1. The environment and the impact cattle farming is having on the planet. There are figures out there saying 30% of land not occupied by ice is dedicated to growing food for cattle, pigs and chickens. That if we weren't consuming meat and dairy the way we are currently, we would be able to feed every person on the planet. Every person.
2. The impact on our health. A twenty year study called The China Project conducted by Professor Campbell lead to the conclusion that coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer can be linked to the Western diet of processed and animal-based foods - including dairy products.
Let's think about right now, in this present time, and ask ourselves a few questions about our bodies. Take a minute to think about things seemingly disconnected: How often do you feel bloated? How is your skin looking? Your hair? How much energy do you have and is it consistent throughout the day? What is your gut telling you? (really think about that one) Gas? Are you running to the toilet? Are you staying there too long? Aches and pains? Eczema?
If some of these are ringing bells then start accepting you might have some food sensitivities, they may not be dairy, keep that in mind, but start to notice what's happening after certain foods, start listening.
My stomach immediately reacts to dairy. If I have just the smallest amount then when I take a big breath in I can hear a pocket of air at the end pop and then the gas that has formed wants to come out of my mouth (excuse me). I want to lay down, I feel full up to my rib cage and my stomach starts cramping. Later I'll be paying multiple trips to the bathroom (too much information?). For a month after I'll have eczema on my feet and fingers. My baby gets a rash of hives immediately across her face, stomach cramps, bad diarrhea and eczema on her stomach and arms. My husband has similar reactions to dairy but almost the same reaction to mustard and coconut (tough one!).
UNPLEASANT BATHROOM EXPERIENCES
I can talk about poo to anyone, it fascinates me and it's seems logical that it's your body's way of communicating with you. However, I am aware that you may not want me to disgust you over breakfast/lunch/at work so let's talk broadly about it. Imagine a nice clean trip to the bathroom where you're not met with any surprises: you walk in, sit down, a few minutes later you're washing your hands and back on with your day. I would say your body hasn't tried to communicate with you, all is well. Take another time where you find yourself running to the bathroom and you hear loud and clear your body shouting at you, I would say this is your body trying to communicate with you. Sometimes your body is saying "hmm, well that did NOT work well, don't put that in here again", "If you don't bring me some fiber I'm gonna keep you in here for days!" or "Give me some more water, PLEASE?"sometimes its angrier and keeps you locked in that room for longer and punishes you even more by making the room a no go zone for at least 30 minutes. You want to get to a point where you may only notice your trip to the bathroom because it was particularly non eventful (I'm totally drawing comparison to Trump with this: shock factor, shock factor, shock factor and then a surprisingly calm presidential speech).
not sure how I did at not disgusting you but maybe you'll catch my drift and we won't need to bring it up again. The reason I'm writing about it is because when your body really doesn't like something it will tell you but you have to listen and although many other foods will be contributing, dairy is tough for 75% of the world's population so why not start here.
GROW GROW GROW
Dairy is fantastic at helping you grow, big, very big, very very big. It's breast milk and its purpose is to help a baby calf develop and grow in to a big BIG cow. If we consume it as much as we do and in as many things as it is then we can't be surprised by the result (think big). Unfortunately female cows can only produce milk if their bodies think they are pregnant so they're kept in a permanent state of pregnancy until they're off to be used for something else. They are milk machines and that's sad. As a breastfeeding mum, there needs to be a cut off date and my milk had better be going to my baby and not your dessert!
There are lots of contradicting facts out there on the subject of hormones in milk. Some say there are over 60 hormones in the milk that ends up on the shelves and others say those hormones, if they're there, don't have any impact on the human body. I don't know what the truth is so I'll keep an open mind on that topic.
As far as the environment is concerned we have a few factors to think about: deforestation and grain production, water consumption AND greenhouse gas emissions. Raising cattle, poultry and pigs has a huge environmental impact but there's a lot of conflicting information out there and a lot of people gaining from the industries. My personal opinion is that if you take everything you read with a pinch of salt you still come to the same conclusion that what we have right now, this mass production and consumption of animal products, is absolutely not sustainable. We need to look at how we consume and reduce the demand.
Here is just one short article which offers some of my thoughts http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/
I'd also really recommend watching a few documentaries: Forks Over Knives, Food Choices and Cowspiracy.