How Motherhood Has Changed Me

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Once carefree and even a bit of a thrillseeker, I now settle for Netflix, a nice cup of tea (three sugars; sue me) and if I’m feeling naughty, a bar of chocolate. High octane stuff!

I am happy if I can get my first coat of nail paint on and dry without smudging and I feel extremely grateful if I can manage to get my eyebrows threaded once every two months.

Once an insatiable, irresistable sex machine – OK , that hasn’t changed! (If-I-could-just-get-this-baby-back-to-sleep-and-stop-the-dogs-barking…)

Jokes aside, motherhood has changed me twice-over, I think.

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Stepmother First

For those who don’t know, motherhood came to me in two instalments: I became a mother to my stepchildren seven years ago at the age of 22. This made me realise my strengths, my ability to love unconditionally and to empathise, with patience.

Giving Birth

Six year later, I gave birth to a lovely little brown baby in our home on our sofa. The hormones, the rush you feel within you, the overwhelming love that you feel all over your body – even eyelids – is indescribable.

Self-Reflective

What’s changed over the years in which I’ve had both of these experiences and seen my life change so much? I think, to start with, that I have become more self-reflective and learned to see my weaknesses and mistakes. I have grown the strength to acknowledge them and own them: I strive to raise children that will become kind, loving and caring grown ups and to be able to achieve that I have to try to embody that myself and walk that talk too.

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Improved Relationship With My Stepchildren

Motherhood has changed the way I interact with my stepchildren. I have a new-found empathy for their loss ( i.e estranged mum). Giving birth brings out a special instinct to care, protect and nurture your baby and I think that that has extended to my bigger two as well. I feel less of a caretaker and more real mother to them than ever.

Holy Cow!

I have always been an animal lover. There is no doubt about it. But I did not have the empathy I have for animals now. I always saw ‘Mother Cow’ as a holy cow in the Indian sense for its bounty to us, but not as a mother to a calf. Now as a breastfeeding mother, I can never consume dairy from another species and neither do I want my children to…

Relaxed Person

I used to get very agitated when things did not go my way and I used to get frustrated with my big kids when they rebelled. But since giving birth, I can see there is no reasoning with a rebelling toddler and no amount of frustration from within me achieves any peace. So I have become far more relaxed about rebellious behaviour from all my children now. I am more tolerant and I try to see the upset in them than how it upsets me.

Social Justice: Theory To Practice

Before having children, I was a silent observer and opponent of misogyny, racism, child sexual abuse, body shaming etc. Now realising how vulnerable my little ones are to the social issues that exist in our world I try to much more actively to speak up against these issues and advocate awareness of them.

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Slow Living

I love practicing life as per my child’s pace (work in progress though). This is also why I also chose to homeschool this year. That way I do not have to tear them away from their play, reading, woodwork or whatever that is keeping them engaged.

Be Kind (to yourself)

I have also become very aware of how important I am. My baby depends on me for his sustenance, now that is something! My big children depend on me for their emotional needs, their basic needs etc. I can only provide everyone with kindness if I look after myself and I am kind to myself first.

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I cannot just be carefree and go sky-diving! It is not that I have become boring, I am aware that my life has more meaning. It has meaning for the ones I have chosen to bring into this world and raise! In Motherhood, I have in many ways completely lost the me I was before it; but I have found a new me. A better version of me that is more grown up, non-judgemental, kinder and more conscious than ever before.

I like to think I still have a naughty streak left though. It’s just… “Your socks? In the top drawer!” “No I don’t know where the car keys are!” “Put that down please!” “Did someone say ‘foot massage’?”

 

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P.S: This post is a part of a Mums and Babies blog train organised by Pooja Kawatra where 41 mothers from all over the world have come together to write together. Do read her blog post on ‘How Motherhood Had Changed Me’.

IMG-20170922-WA0004Tomorrow Nayantara from Mumbai will be sharing her thoughts on motherhood. Nayantara talks about her journey “Mommying” her son babyT at MommyingbabyT. She has been blogging for over a year and loves talking about all the fun while breastfeeding, cloth diapering and babywearing lil T. She says her life changed when she saw how beautifully nature intended the whole mothering process to be. A natural mama, who tries to be as less interventional as possible when it comes to raising her son she believes in letting nature take its course.

 

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Raising Race – Conscious Children

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My husband is white English; my step-children are half-Korea; our youngest is half-Indian; our close friends are quarter-English, quarter-Dutch and half-Algerian and my husband’s godson is half-British/Nigerian, quarter-German and quarter-English.

Suffice to say, there is no getting away from talking about race.

Even though in an ideal world, I would like to just get on with life and not have my children realise that some people around them will look at them differently owing to their racial difference, the reality of life is different.

Racism exists and always has; so does “colourblindness”. Ideally, we need to eradicate both. Colourblindness assumes everyone has the same experience and is a way of avoiding tough conversations about race. Children notice differences in people’s skin colour, behaviour or cultural differences from very early on in life. They make comments and ask questions that can’t be denied. Giving them the tools to deal with racism in the future is very important.

We need to provide them with enough knowledge, experience and tools to not only cope with racism directed towards them, but also to stand against any form of racism towards others. Here’s how I try to do it…

1. Build Self-Esteem

Make your children feel proud of who they are and how they look. Teach them about their culture, practice it at home by cooking yummy food, celebrating different festivals or whatever that your culture entails. Once they have a strong self esteem and confidence in themselves, they will be able to face life with ease.

2. Avoid Stereotypes

Start early and bring diversity into your reading. This is often easier said than does – the same applies for gender stereotypes – but is important to do.

3. Keep Multicultural Friends

Break out of your cultural ghetto, whatever that is. Hang out with people of different races. Make friends with people from different countries, cultures and ethnicity. Children at an young age notice differences but don’t judge. This is the best time to help them embrace differences and learn about commonalities at the same time

4. Talk About Racism

If the kids are a little bit bigger then talk about racism with them. Tell them about different races, their history, how the society treats them and how there is nothing fair about treating people with prejudice based on their skin colour or ethnicity

5. It’s OK To Say Black

Nothing makes the English more uncomfortable than directly addressing race. You know what? It’s OK to say the words “black”, “white” or “brown”. Just know when to do it…

6. Derogatory Racial Terms

Blackie, whitie, brownie? Rather less so… And you know what, children need educating on racially derogative terms because they may well end up hearing them. Nigger, Paki, Chinkie. Talk about those words, their provenance and abuse.

One day in my child’s school, a kid asked my son if he knew the word, ‘Chinki’. My child was as innocent and as unaware as any kid to be honest. He laughed at the word and came home asking me about it and that opened that particular conversation…

7. Read Books

There are many books out there these days that have mixed race and mixes of races among their characters. Rapunzel with an Indian prince and an Indian Rapunzel is a colourful favourite in our house though yes, Irene still likes a blonde princess­­­…

8. Look For Opportunities

Children don’t need to necessarily be sat down and told that this beautiful and wondrous world is full of ignorant, judgemental people. But look for opportunities and good stories that help explain it. Make race-consciousness a part of life, not a lesson in life!

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How do you deal with conversations about race?

Cloth Nappy no0b? My Top 10 Tips

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I have been advocating cloth nappies since baby Roshan was teeny weeny. The more I use them, the more I believe in them. It is a learning process and a very satisfying journey too.

For a beginner, the world of cloth nappies can seem like a minefield. And that is exactly how disposables became a successful industry. It is easy to not have to research or think twice –  just buy a packet of disposable nappies that require no prep, no laundry and no maintenance (none of which is actually as tedious as it may sound).

I remember as a newbie, asking my friend Ashleigh scores of questions about the nappies as she had been using it for months. With her help and a lot of research, I finally settled for the cloth nappies I wanted and never looked back.

Here are some of my handy tips for anybody who wants to consider cloth nappying their child:

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1. Try them all

There are a variety of cloth nappy brands. I would recommend picking a few popular brands and trying one or two of each before you build or buy your stash. What may suit one baby may not suit another. What your friend may find easier to deal with may not be your cup of tea.

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2. Embrace secondhand nappies

The whole idea of reuseable nappies is not just to reuse it on your own child. Cloth nappies have such a long shelf life that there’s a huge second hand market for it where you can buy very expensive brands for cheap to try on before investing. I brought many a brands for second hand before naming my favourites. They tend to come very clean and very well maintained.

Nappy Libraries are also very helpful. Seek advice there. You will be amazed!

3. Always pre-wash

New or second hand, always pre-wash your nappies. New nappies often get better in terms of absorbency with multiple washes. And with second hand stuff, you want to make sure that there isn’t any debris, bacteria or dust (in case it’s been sitting in someone’s cupboards for a while).

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4. All-in-ones

Even though rumours abound about all-in-ones not being as efficient as the others, some of them are very good indeed. TotsBots easyfit stars are my favourite British brand – suitable for use overnight or for outings when we know we won’t be back within 2 hours. And always have some ‘all-in-‘ones handy for travel. It makes changing quicker and less bulky to carry!

5. Doesn’t have to be all or none

If you are into your disposables or are finding the idea of going all out with your cloth nappies, then don’t. We still use disposables from time time especially when camping or going for a weekend stay at a friends. So ease yourself into using cloth nappies. Maybe start with night time nappies or pop one on when at home.

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The best way to dry your washed nappies is to let them dry in the sun. Sun is known to remove stains and kill harmful bacteria too. In England, sunshine seems like a joke, but the weather in England is, on the contrary, really beneficial for the nappies.

Just sunshine tends to leave the nappies very crisp and slightly rough, whereas a bit of sunshine followed by shade is perfect to keep the fabric soft.

7. Let it rain

Every now and again, it is a good idea to strip wash your nappies. I do it maybe once every couple of months, sometimes I leave them for a bit longer. In England, strip washing simply happens accidentally to be honest.

Strip washing is basically a process where you wash your nappies completely clean of any detergent residue or any general wear and tear to make sure the nappies are as good as new, and it helps improve the absorbency too.

One of the best ways to strip wash is to leave the nappies out for couple of days or more when it is raining. This should be done after the nappies have been washed once in the machine with detergent. Instead of bringing the nappies back home after they have dried, the idea is to let it get rained on for a few days.

This can be done by using washing machine too. Simply wash the nappies once with detergent and then do a few more washes without any detergent. It is just that rain is free of cost.

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8. Get organised

Cloth nappying is not just about choosing and buying nappies. Make sure you have a bucket for soiled nappies, wet bags to carry soiled nappies back home when traveling, a non-bio detergent and a washing machine (basic I know)

One other essential I would recommend is an electric clothes hanger. During winter this little technology works wonders.

9. Laundry Routine

Laundry really doesn’t have to be so tedious. Make sure you have a routine though. It is very easy to get used to and if you have bigger kids, they can help too. I wash my nappies every other day (it is especially helpful if you have a small stash). And I do clothes in between. The only time I skip doing any laundry is when it has been raining and my nappies haven’t dried yet.

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10. Cloth Wipes

Not only is it environmentally friendly and chemical free, it is also very practical.

Just how disposable wipes can be chucked into the bin along with disposable nappies, cloth wipes can be chucked into the cloth nappy bin after use and washed along with the nappies in the same wash.

The only time I use disposable wipes is when outdoors. So again, it doesn’t have to be all or none. A little bit of both works quite harmoniously for us.

Please let me know if you have any more tips to add in the comments below.

Why Vegan and Am I Imposing My Beliefs On My Children?

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When I first became a mother to my stepchildren, I was just 22. I didn’t want to make any mistakes in raising them. I used to strive every day to find a balance between being their friend and a responsible adult taking over the role of a mother. I always felt a subliminal social pressure that whispered that if I made any mistakes, all fingers would be pointed at me as a wicked stepmother.

It took me nearly 7 years to realise that there is no parenting without mistakes and there is no society without opinions, whatever one does. One simply has to be mindful about it and be optimistic.

Whose Life Is It?

Fast forward a few years later, I gave birth to a rambunctious little baby who is from me but not mine. He is a person of his own. I think about this a lot. For years, I had an insecurity that my stepchildren will never be mine, and that I could raise them, provide for them and just like that the biological mum could come and take them away from me, while I stood helplessly. But it was only after giving birth to my baby I realised that life is not ours to own.

It is with this thought that I started to become mindful about life: mine, yours and theirs. It is the exact same thought that also made me realise that if life is not for us to own, it is also not for us to take. I want my children to know that it is not ok to kill or pay someone else to kill an animal (or any living being for that matter) for you. I don’t want them to think that it is okay to kill some animals for your food and entertainment and not some others.

Like them, all lives are free spirited or should be. If they have a will to want to live, they are not ours to take.

The Holy Cow

In India, the cow is a holy being. She is also called “the mother cow”, because people feed off of her milk. But guess what? She is not our mother, and her milk is for her calf. In saying so, I am not denying how cow’s milk may have come to the rescue of many human lives, and it had or perhaps has its place. Having said that, in a rich, evolved and developed world, we do not need it for our survival or even sustenance.

As a breastfeeding mother, I feel quite strongly about this subject. I personally don’t like the sensation or idea of breast pumps and so to think of the cows forcibly being impregnated, and then separated from their calves only to then be constrained and milked day in and day out while they bellow for their babies disgusts me.

I don’t know why we think it is acceptable to take away the milk from a baby cow (to whom the milk belongs and is formulated for), and give it to a human baby. How is that fair?! Nevermind fair, but it isn’t even healthy. (Check out my post on how to go dairy free)

Am I Imposing my beliefs on my children?

I suppose that is a matter of perspective.

I also imposed meat on my children or rather, “eat what’s on your plate”, to be precise. For years, I imposed a glass of milk on them every day, I also imposed (still do) restraints on how much TV they can watch, I imposed that they must keep away from fast food chains etc. We all impose our beliefs on our children in some form or the other until they grow to a certain age and start making or demanding to make their own choices.

Baby Ro has been raised vegan so far. I plan to keep him vegan through his childhood but he will of course have the option when he can fully comprehend the reasons behind being vegan. Reuben and Irene, like all of us in the family, were preconditioned into eating meat, seafood and all things dairy. It is not only a hard transition for them but also a choice they have to make for themselves. They are big enough to understand as to why I chose to be vegan, and they are free to transition slowly or not. They know that mummy will not pay for a dairy ice-cream but happily buy them an ice-lolly or any other non-dairy option.

I try to practice mindful living all the time. I believe in reducing waste, growing your own when you can (failing miserably at the moment) , shopping locally and organically if you can, being compassionate towards others and standing up for others in need. I am aware that as a parent, I have a big responsibility on my shoulders to model an image that I’d like to see in my children. I make mistakes too, but I am working on them and I am so very optimistic that my kids will pick up on some of it if not all to contribute towards a better, cleaner and gentler future.

Are the kids simply going vegan to honour my choices or to please me?

Well who is to say but them!

Firstly, I don’t think my children aged 10 and 9 years old are so naive. Irene accepted veganism right away but Reuben has only just transitioned pretty much completely after watching me be consistent for almost a year and after visiting the animal sanctuary. (Reuben says he will be flexible when traveling and that is fair). So I think they have made a conscious choice.

And even if they are going vegan for me, I don’t see why it is a bad thing. I appreciate their respect for me and my choices. I appreciate that they want to follow my spiritual journey and to be honest, so far I am well impressed. My positive perspective suggests if they are going vegan to honour me, that’s great because it is only leading them to live a healthier, more compassionate and a life that involves a lot of thinking and mindful eating.

I am vegan for my children, I am vegan for the animals, I am vegan for our health and I am vegan for the environment.

 

Vegan Kimchi Recipe

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Kimchi is a global culinary phenomena. I was introduced to it by my husband a few years ago. We have a jar of kimchi in our household as a staple, partly because of my step-children being half-Korean but mostly to do with its health benefits.

Kimchi is a spicy fermented pickle that is really good for your gut. I swear Kimchi will resolve all your health problem. As a kid, I grew up on my grandma and mum’s homemade Indian pickles; packed full of turmeric and ginger and all sorts of other fermented food like steamed dhoklas (lentil cakes) and dosas (lentil pancakes) — and I am aware of how these superfoods are a labour of love. Kimchi is the same, and you can’t rush it.

Traditionally kimchi has anchovy paste in it or shrimp paste, but I wanted to make a vegan version that tastes like the real deal. Making it at home is cheaper, healthier and more customisable. Most store brought imports are far too sweet for our palette anyway. Also making it at home and having it in the fridge means not having to go to the Asian supermarket (which for us isn’t very close and often shut at the weekends).

So here is a recipe that finally worked after years of trial and error. Hope it works for you. Making kimchi is an art. So if it goes wrong, don’t be too disheartened and try again. It is totally worth the effort.

Ingredients:

1 head of Chinese Cabbage, Chopped in big chunks

2-3 Tablespoons of Korean Hot Pepper Flakes (or more depending on your taste)

10 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped

2 Inches of Ginger, grated

1 tablespoon sugar

1 Big White Onion, Sliced

3 to 4 Spring onions, chopped

2 teaspoon of tamari

a handful of dried seaweed or kelp, crushed or torn into pieces

1-2 eating apple, sliced

A whole Lot of Salt (or about 12 tablespoons)

Method:

After chopping up the cabbage wash them thoroughly. Apply and massage a lot of salt onto the cabbage and let it rest for a couple of hours. Then wash it again.

Next, soak the cabbage into salted water preferably overnight.

In the morning, wash the cabbage thoroughly, this is an important stage, because by now the cabbage must have absorbed a whole lot of salt and you don’t want your kimchi to be too salty.

In the final stage, make a paste with half of the onions, ginger, garlic and all of the apples.  Now mix in the red pepper flakes and combine. Massage the cabbage and the rest of the onions, garlic, ginger and tamari along with all of the seaweed with this paste.

Put this kimchi mix into a clean and sterilised mason jar or any air tight container. Let it ferment for about 12 hours and then store it in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. As it rests in the fridge, you will notice an organic brine being produced which is referred to as “kimchi juice”. This juice means, your kimchi is fermenting well.

Tips: If by any chance your kimchi is not fermenting, you may need more sugar or longer period of time outside the fridge. Simply take it out of the fridge and let it rest for a few hours and pop it back in the fridge. 

And if you notice your kimchi has fermented too much, don’t throw it away. Koreans often use over-fermented kimchi to cook with. They make for a great ingredients for kimchi chigae (soup), kimchi pajong (pancake) and kimchi bokkum-bap (fried rice).

Why I don’t believe in Sleep Training?!

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Do sleep training methods work? A qualified “yes”. Am I a fan of them? Absolutely not. Here’s why.

The Myth of Sleeping Through The Night

Nobody sleeps seamlessly through the night, not even adults; that’s a myth. We all sleep in cycles. The only difference between a baby and us is that we can segue from one sleep cycle to another. Hence, we don’t remember waking up at night or do not consider toilet breaks or thirst breaks as an interruption.

“Sleeping through the night” is a marketing gimmick created by the same creators of various sleep training methods. Exhausted, sleep deprived mothers jump on any promise of a good night’s sleep. But we must be aware of the long term consequences of this quick result-yielding method.

 What is a Normal Sleep Cycle for babies?

 Usually as short as 45 minutes. In my experience this was true for the first 10 months. After 10 months, the cycle changed to anything from 2 hours to 3 hours. And now at 15 months, his cycle is much longer, although he regresses at times for whatever reason.

Quiet is Not Calm

 Sleep training method usually mean putting the baby into the cot or bed, and expecting them to fall asleep either without nursing or simply by crying it out. In most cases the crying out needs to happen alone, where the parent only intervenes at several intervals. And the intervention is quite often minimal.

Babies are not stupid. After crying for hours. After a day or two (in some cases more), babies learn to conserve energy and stay quiet. I see it as a baby who has lost all hopes for affection and parental closeness at bedtime. And that is sad!

Research show that babies that are quiet after sleep training methods are not necessarily calm – and indeed are releasing elevated levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.

(Here is a very good review of the literature on this from a professor of psychology and executive editor of the Journal of Moral Education – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201407/parents-misled-cry-it-out-sleep-training-reports

Trauma, Fight, Flight and Freeze Response

Bedtime can be very traumatic for babies, especially for babies who are either being trained to sleep on their own, in their own room, or in a separate cot or in a situation that the baby is not completely comfortable in.

Now we all know what is fight or flight response to any traumatic situation. Babies are physically and emotionally completely incapable of fighting any traumatic event in their life.

Helpless and scared, babies cry and cry and cry and eventually the last response kicks in: to freeze. We as humans often freeze in situation that we cannot escape. By mentally blocking ourselves out of the situation we may experience less pain, less trauma and in some case the threat (a raging dog?) may lose interest in us.

Freezing might be an instinct we all have and it can be beneficial in traumatic situations to keep our sanity intact but to practice such an instinct at such a young age may have questionable effects on children later in life. I do not want a “freeze response” to become my child’s primary response to a difficult situation.

Ignoring a Baby’s Needs

 Baby’s need touch, and physical closeness. It is a totally reasonable request and completely normal. Food, dry clothes and a lot of affection = a happy baby! Simple!

Just because we have changed the nappy, fed the babies a nice meal, given them a bath, read them a book, sang them a lullaby and then nursed them to sleep, does not mean that we know that the babies now must have no excuse whatsoever to be hungry, uncomfortable or feeling the need to want affection through the night!

Babies’ brains don’t function like ours. Unlike us, babies cannot rationalise the situation when they wake up from their sleep cycle. If we wake up scared, we rub our eyes, and we tell ourselves that everything is ok, perhaps it was a nightmare. If we wake up hungry, we rationalise by looking at the clock and telling ourselves that 3am is not a good time for a sandwich and if we are thirsty we simply drink water and go back to sleep (on our own because we can).

Now babies are not only incapable of rationalising the situation but also are incapable of curbing the needs they have. So if a baby wakes up slightly peckish, sleep training method will only encourage them to learn to starve. I don’t see that as a healthy way to grow up.

Loss Of Trust

If the baby has learnt that nobody comes to provide affection when they cry, no body listens to them cry or that nobody will feed them when they are hungry, they might start losing trust in their caretaker.

I, personally, would fear losing my child’s trust. I would expect my child to feel free to tell me about anything or anyone troubling them because they know that no matter how petty or how bad their experience is, mummy is always here to listen, cuddle and act on it.

What’s the rush?

It is difficult raising children. Sleepless nights are part of the territory. And no, I am not a SAHM that I can rest any time of the day so it is easier for me to say this. Here’s how I think: I chose to have a baby, I chose the sleepless nights and the wet nappies and the baby sick and tantrums. In the grander scheme of things, giving my baby two to three years of my life is nothing.

Get your family to help out. Take turns with your partner. And if you are a single mother, get some of your friends to help out. Easier said than done. But I’d rather make the effort than give up on my baby and let the baby cope with it’s own miseries.

Mother’s health comes first

What works for me, may not work for you! We cosleep and nurse on demand. That I think helps a lot in my child’s seemingly good sleeping habits. Even though my baby wakes up a few times to feed in the night still at 15 months, cosleeping makes it easy and my sleep is not as disturbed. And that works for us!

 Having said all of the above, I do believe in mother’s health to be of the utmost importance. I have absolutely no problem if you choose to sleep train or bottle feed or wean early or do whatever that you do with your baby for your own sanity and well-being as long as one is aware of the consequences.

What I, personally, struggle with is when parents put their kids through such unnatural methods of training in the name of “their wellbeing”. No! That is utter nonsense. Two minutes or two days, there is nothing good about learning to sleep by crying it out or longing for affection. They are not learning independence of any sort, they are not actually still sleeping deeply and peacefully through the night (they have stopped bothering you, that’s all).

Resources:

http://theconversation.com/we-trust-children-to-know-what-gender-they-are-until-they-go-against-the-norm-42093

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=middlemiss+asynchrony

http://www.parentingscience.com/stress-in-babies.html

 

 

How To Replace Dairy?

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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

Soy Milk

Almond Milk

Oat Milk

Hemp Milk

Coconut Milk

Hazelnut Milk

……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)

Chia Seeds

Kale

Spinach

Broccoli

White Beans

Black Eyed Peas

Almonds

Dried Figs

Seaweed

Sesame Seed (Tahini)

Tofu

Oranges

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!)

Supplementing

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.

Confessions 

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?