As a breastfeeding mother, this topic of eliminating dairy from our diet resonates at a very personal level.
Ever since I started nursing my baby, I developed an aversion to dairy. I could not for the life of me express my milk without feeling extreme discomfort and unease. The idea made me squirm. So to think of a cow with her udders attached to a machine sucking milk out of her which is originally meant for her calves became simply unacceptable for me.
Cow’s milk is for calves, just like my milk is for my baby. My milk is not for my dogs or cats. Humans are the only species in this entire world that consumes milk from another species long after their body has no need for any dairy consumption whatsoever.
A well balanced wholefood or plant based diet will make sure that you get your daily calcium intake without having to consume any form of milk at all. And the long-standing belief that milk is a vital source of much-needed calcium has also been widely debunked. (For a wide ranging review of some of the debate around this, see this piece in the Guardian).
Indeed, worse, Colin Campbell, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, claims that: “cows’ milk protein may be the single most significant chemical carcinogen to which humans are exposed”.
My daughter suffered from very bad eczema and stomach upset. Ever since I took dairy out of her diet, her eczema and tummy have resolved themselves and never come back.
Why? I suspect lactose intolerance, which numerous studies have found to be incredibly widespread. Lactose is the sugar in milk, and it needs to be broken down by the enzyme lactase that lives in our intestines and bowels. “If the lactose we absorb is greater than our lactase capacity, undigested lactose travels to the large intestine, where it ferments, producing gas, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. The result? Bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and farts.”
Did you know that a stunning 75% of Indians are lactose intolerant?! Uncle keeps farting? Get him on hemp milk instead!
Anyhow, so how to transition into a non-dairy lifestyle. It is easy!
There are so many plant based milk available
……and many more
Nutritional Info Comparison
Soy Milk (per serving of 250 ml) Cow’s milk (per serving of 250 ml)
Calcium : 300 mg Calcium : 300 mg
Protein : 8.5 g Protein : 8 g
Fat : 4.8 g Fat : 9 g
Saturated Fat : 0.8 g Saturated Fat : 5.7 g
Total Carbs : 0.8 g Total Carbs : 11.7 g
Sugars : 0.3 g Sugars : 11.7 g
Vitamin B12 : 1.0 ug Vitamin B12 : 1.0 ug
How can I get enough Calcium?
As you can see in the nutritional facts above that plant-based milk and cow’s milk have the same amounts of calcium in it. (If you are on a vegan diet you’ll need less calcium per day)
I do understand that plant-based milk can either be difficult to get hold of in some places or a bit expensive. Worry not, because there are so many food items that can provide you with sufficient amount of calcium in a day.
Brown or White Bread (Calcium is added to bread by law in the UK)
Black Eyed Peas
Sesame Seed (Tahini)
Tip: I drink two big glasses of green smoothie a day on top of a balanced diet. That ensures I get my daily dose of iron, calcium and other nutrients that I may have missed out.
But I Can’t Live Without Cheese?
Sure. You won’t live long with cheese either. Cheese is full of saturated fat and salt. So if you are health conscious, cheese shouldn’t be your favourite.
Anyhow, there are a lot of plant-based cheeses available in the market now. There are also a lot of Youtube videos on how to make your own cheese. Cashew being the main ingredient but I make my cheeses with almonds too (watch this space for some tasty recipes!)
I don’t supplement but I have nothing against supplementing either. If in doubt, always supplement yourself with an over the counter stuff. Just make sure you don’t overdose on calcium. It can have bad effects on your kidneys.
I am not a huge supporter of taking pills. I try to consume a well-balanced diet so if possible, do you research and try and eat healthy. Do not concentrate too much on one nutrient. If you eat a wholesome diet, you are bound to get a whole range of nutrients than one.
You must have a heard a lot of vegans promote the idea that non-dairy products are as good as the dairy products. Some even claim that one can’t tell the difference.
Even though that might be true in some cases, in my experience, it isn’t true in most cases.
Non-dairy products do not taste like dairy. Plant based dairy can replicate the texture, the look and the nutrition but not necessarily the taste.
Non -dairy does not taste bad, it tastes different and a slow transition would be best. I started off with sweetened milk to develop a taste for soy milk. Once I got used to the texture and all, I switched on to the unsweetened milk. Trial and error baby, trial and error!
It takes time to get used to non-dairy products. But the way I think about it is that my taste is not bigger than my desire to be compassionate and healthy. Infact, after almost a year of not consuming dairy, I could not tolerate a kiss from my husband who was in the middle of eating dairy ice-cream! It’s all a matter of habit. Your tastebuds will evolve.
Non-dairy options are healthier than dairy in most cases because of it’s added vitamins and minerals. Infact most fortified dairy products have added vitamin D, which is important for effective calcium absorption, especially if you come from a cold country like me.
Don’t have to be a vegan to try non-dairy! Start incorporating non-dairy slowly into your diet rather than taking it out completely if you are not into absolutism.
Let me know your experience with non-dairy?