I’ve never been the easiest to teach, I’ll admit that straight away – always preferring, or needing, to come to conclusions myself, even if the conclusion I come to is exactly what someone was trying to tell me six months and 10 arguments ago. This’ll sound familiar to Rochelle…
Over the years, Rochelle has gained a lot of knowledge about food, nutrition, health, all of which she’s tried to pass on to me, and a lot of which I’ve initially (and completely wrongly) rejected at first, thinking it was extreme or unnecessary, clinging to the thought that ‘normal’ was normal for a reason – i.e .because it’s fine. Yes, I was definitely wrong.
One example of this relates to the dairy industry. Rochelle has been telling me for a good while that dairy isn’t good for either the animals involved (whether they be cows, goats, sheep) or ourselves. But it didn’t go in. She was battling against some strong forces – a nice cappuccino for a start.
But something has niggled. Not so much the health aspects as we live a largely dairy free life anyway, having almond mylk, for example, (as I am pictured making here, as I do every day) and with me working with dairy free chocolate, and with Rochelle being dairy-free, and being the cook of the house, naturally dairy makes very few appearances. What niggled is the idea of it being bad for the animals.
The dairy industry has done a pretty amazing job of selling itself to us. It’s cultivated a wholesome image that’s practically bullet-proof and so entrenched in our psyche from such a young age that to question it would almost be tantamount to questioning whether you own mother cared for you. To me certainly, growing up there seemed little as pure and natural as milk. Milk that comes from serene cows, spending their days relaxing in green fields, producing creamy white milk to be poured on our cereal – all guilt-free and wholesome.
But what the dairy industry has managed to do goes beyond even that, because not only have they created a wholesome image, but they’ve created a sense that dairy is necessary: necessary for calcium, for healthy bones, for the young to grow strong, and for the old to avoid becoming weak. So many foods are optional. But milk somehow isn’t.
Although, clearly, it is.
It only occurred to me recently that calcium, which is obviously important, is touted as being a major reason for having dairy in your life, throughout your life, and yet the animals that our dairy comes from don’t themselves drink their own milk throughout their own lives. And their bones don’t crumble – osteoporosis doesn’t seem to be a major issue in the animal kingdom. But humans need it? We need it constantly? Perhaps the bones of animals remain healthy because calcium can be found in places other than milk; green leafy vegetables, for example (or grass if they prefer)? It’s a thought – a very true one!
A real turning point came recently for me, when I came across a video about the dairy industry. It was only very short, and it wasn’t gruesome in the slightest. It didn’t need to be. No doubt there are many much worse videos out there, but for me this was enough. It was simply a baby cow being separated from its mother by a farmer and being taken away, and the distress that this caused both the mother and the calf. Perhaps it’s partly because I’m a father that it struck me so much. But I knew that I simply didn’t want to be a part of that situation. There’s no cappuccino nice enough, no treat of any sort that’s worth that. It’s not something I want to be involved in.
Beyond that, I came across an article in the Guardian (a sign in itself that this ‘alternative’ way of thinking is becoming more mainstream), buy a guy called Chas Newkey-Burden that was more eye-opening still. And I’d really recommend having a read.
Like many people perhaps, I’m not someone who loves reading the news as so much of it is depressing and we’re so helpless to do anything about it. But this is something over which we do have some control. You’re able to simply say that you no longer want to play a part in it, no cappuccino is worth it. It’s a small gesture, but many together add up to a big statement.
If you, like me, aren’t the easiest to teach… this may not have been so useful. But hopefully it’ll have at least made you aware that there’s something here that it’s worth teaching yourself about, and it’ll be interesting to see what conclusion you come to.
Until next time.