I’m on lots of “mommy” groups on Facebook, and most of them are also to do with breastfeeding. There’s always someone talking about being asked “when are you switching to formula?” which invariably inspires people to say how cow’s milk (and that’s what most formula is made of) is for baby cows, not for people.
At the moment there is an horrific video going around these groups that shows how badly dairy cows are treated. It’s awful…it really is. Most women are commenting saying that they couldn’t watch the whole thing, and I cried while I was watching it. Unsurprisingly, it is inspiring an awful lot of my fellow group members to say that they’re going to stop drinking milk. They all start discussing alternative milks and how to make your own nut milk and how much better they’re going to feel.
…but it’s not that simple.
I don’t want to be Polly Partypooper about it, because the dairy industry IS barbaric, and going dairy-free is MUCH healthier, and wanting to stop drinking milk is VERY admirable, but bottles of milk aren’t a stand-alone product.
Milk is in absolutely everything.
Cutting out milk means foregoing butter, it means no cheese, it means reading the ingredients for every processed food you buy (milk in sausages and ham is totally a thing), it means asking to see the allergen folders in supermarket bakeries and delis, it means going to a restaurant and only having one or two dishes that are safe for you to eat, it means endlessly googling “restaurant name + allergen info” before you go out or having to rely on waiters to know their stuff…it usually means no dessert (next time you’re eating out try to find one that isn’t made with butter or milk or cream or cheese).
I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s a massive chore but it’s a MASSIVE chore.
I have to be overly cautious because eating dairy will mean pain for George to deal with, and lots of screaming and horrible poop for me to deal with. It perhaps wouldn’t be so difficult for you if you didn’t have to avoid milk so stringently…
The trouble is that now the dairy is out of my system, I also get sick if I eat anything with milk in it. It’s a common problem. When your body stops dealing with lactose it stops being able to process it, so reintroducing it can be problematic.
Life is harder for us in some ways because we can’t have soya either and lots of dairy-free stuff (like chocolate, spreads, ice-creams) is made with soya, but there’s people who have it a lot worse than me. I can’t imagine how difficult eating (especially eating out) is when you can’t have eggs, nuts, coconuts, fruits…
I don’t want to put people off because I think that removing milk (and related products) from your diet is a great thing to do. It is also a difficult thing to do, and often a demoralising one too – especially when you are watching people eat pizzas and creamy desserts. If it weren’t for the fact that eating milk would hurt my son, I’m not sure if I would have had the will to keep going this long.
We’ve only been dairy/soya-free for about eleven weeks, but I’m immeasurably proud of myself for every day that I keep going, and I might even take it past breastfeeding…
…it might just become a way of life.