Date: 29 Jan 2020
Author: The Vegan Society Aotearoa
What is FebNoDairy? It is a growing movement to reduce and remove dairy from your diet. Cow’s milk is designed for calves and it therefore has poor health effects on humans who consume it beyond the weaning years. Those who are concerned about the environment and think that the Amazon is being cut down to produce soy for vegans, may be surprised to find out that the soy grown there is 80% for the beef cattle industry. Meanwhile in New Zealand we are lucky to be able to choose organic soy beans grown in Australia for our soy milks. Even better is the new New Zealand grown oat milk, Otis.
There are so many non-dairy milks in the supermarkets today. There is literally a plant milk for every day of the week! And it’s not only milks that are plant-based these days, there are over 30 vegan cheeses too! You may not find every one in your local supermarket, but the range is growing and improving, with many companies and brands ready to take up the FebNoDairy challenge. Non-dairy ice-cream is all the rage too, popular with everyone and delicious to boot. In fact these days there isn’t a dairy product which doesn’t have a non-dairy alternative.
Whether you choose nuts, beans, seeds or grains as your plant milk, there are many easy recipes for making your own as well, especially if you don’t like the idea of all those tetrapaks. Simply soak your chosen plant part, then whizz it up in a blender with some water and maybe a sweetener, you can make as little or as much as you require. Same with non-dairy cheeses, soak your nuts or seeds of choice, add flavourings, blend and then stir in agar agar and chill. Cheese in an hour and a half! Banana or avocado-based ice-creams are also easy to make and healthier too. There’s a couple of cheese recipes here
Plants require less resources than cows or sheep, the goodness in them goes directly to us, no middle animals. With our planet at tipping point, it is clear that business as usual is not working. We need to grow more plants and we would like to see the government encouraging farmers to transition from dairy towards a more plant-based economy. Farmers need help and support to do this, as we do not want families in poverty. As a country we must be smart and notice that the writing is on the wall for the dairy industry with global prices dropping and sales falling. The promise of New Zealand as a provider of high quality dairy is just putting off the inevitable decline and leaving our farmers behind.
Research suggests that large amounts of dairy, especially full fat dairy is deleterious to our health, with many adults being lactose intolerant. The Vegan Society’s wholefoods plant-based family practitioner, Dr Mark Craig said in his experience, “Many patients who remove dairy from their diet get very significant improvement and even resolution of various symptoms. Common improvements are in acne, rhinitis (blocked/ runny noses) and sinusitis, improved migraine, heavy and painful periods and improved gut health, bloating and energy. People who remove high fat diary from their diet, in conjunction with reduction in other high saturated fat foods such as animal meats, frequently experience dramatic improvements in blood fat levels (cholesterol and triglycerides) and blood pressure, sometimes meaning they can reduce or even come off their medications.”
Plant-based dairy alternatives are the future and New Zealand needs to keep up with the times and not remain in the last century, whose aims and values no longer serve us. It is a brave new world we are forging, one that must come about if we are to survive into the next century. We must work in harmony with our planet, with the resources we have, conserving them for the future, allowing nature to guide us. FebNoDairy is a step in the right direction, one towards a sustainable future.