Why Are We Weirdly Selective About The Orifices That Produce Our Foods?

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Mixed Eggs from Flickr via Wylio
© 2011 soapydishwater, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Well this post will make you laugh if nothing else.

It might even larn you somethin’ – I definitely ‘larned’ something new as you will see!

Now even non-vegan readers must know by now that cow’s milk comes from a cow’s boob-equivalent – their udders; and that milk is food for cow’s babies, just as breast milk is food for human babies.

But I’m absolutely NOT judging you if you didn’t know that. It’s hardly something that milk adverts shout about, for obvious reasons.

And none of us would dream of breast-feeding from our mothers – or even from any other female human past infancy right? Yet this is what milk drinkers and dairy consumers (as all dairy is made of milk) are effectively doing, but it’s even weirder! They’re doing it FROM A DIFFERENT SPECIES.

And I found out something else last week.

Now I’m rather partial to saying that eggs are chicken’s periods (in an appropriate forum of course, not at a dinner table when someone is tucking into an egg – though it’s tempting 🙂 )

The eggs are unfertilised, so a period is technically what they ARE.

But did you know this?

(Maybe many of you did and I’m just ignorant)

A friend was telling me about a discussion she had with her partner. HE was saying that a chicken had but one…um…lower orifice; and she argued that this must be wrong, and that they MUST have two.

I agreed with her. They must have at least two I thought (I actually thought they must have three; one each for peeing and pooping of course; and one for the eggs to exit the body).

Later; to see who was right, I decided to get better informed about chickens’ unmentionables, and consulted the internet on this topic.

It turns out my friend’s partner was right. Chickens DO have but one, um, unmentionable (could I GET any more British?)

Did you know this?

I DIDN’T EITHER!!!!

This means that not only is an egg a chicken’s period, but also that it is pooping the eggs out of its butt (there, I said it).

As chickens (like all birds) don’t pee, the liquid waste mixes in with the solid waste and exits this one orifice as poop. So it really IS a butt.

I feel bad talking about chickens in a disrespectful way, but my intention is to make people think twice about eating eggs – so hopefully they’ll forgive me.

Why weren’t we taught this??? I’ve been on the planet X amount of years (now that really IS unmentionable) and I had NO IDEA that eggs came from a chicken’s butt.

Now chicken experts out there may point out that the poop and the eggs go down different tubes INSIDE the chicken’s body, and only exit from the same orifice, but still. Eggs still come out of their butt.

Just as sometimes those of us that are vegan, in order to get non-vegans to think about where milk comes from, ask them whether they’d be comfortable breast-feeding from a human female as an adult; this egg/chicken issue has similarly made me wonder:

Would we eat anything that exited from a human butt?

So why is a chicken’s butt OK as a food conduit?

Would we eat a menstrual deposit from any other animal?

Why then are we happy to eat a chicken’s?

Why were we not taught precisely where eggs come from and what they are – and in whose interest was it that we were not taught this?

Why are we not encouraged to ask questions about this?

It seems we have been conditioned to just accept milk and eggs as a healthy food source and not question a darn thing about whether they are indeed healthy, or where they came from, or why we don’t drink milk from any other animals (except perhaps goats) or eat eggs from many other birds.

This is why milk isn’t healthy.

This is why eggs aren’t healthy.

The reason why its cow’s milk (rather than milk from any other mammal) that has been pushed on to you since birth is that cow’s milk is the most profitable.

The reason why it’s eggs from chickens (rather than eggs from any other bird) that you’ve been made to believe are good for you since forever is that chicken’s eggs are the most profitable.

NO.OTHER.REASON.

In the interest of profit and profit only (as public health has NOTHING to do with it), our consumption of cow’s milk and chicken’s eggs has been SO normalised and legitimised by a multitude of societal elements that we receive both consciously and sub-consciously; that we DON’T tend to question anything.

It’s funny how many people identify as ‘germophobes’; they buy anti-microbial hand sanitisers galore and fuss and fret about bacteria – yet they’re happy to drink secretions from a different species, or eat something that exited the behind of another species, just because they consider that to be ‘normal.’

 

Next time I want a little fun with a non-vegan (and I know them to have a good sense of humour), I’ll tease them about their ‘butt-food.’

I learned a little something last week, but to be honest I was shocked I didn’t know this already.

Did YOU know?

 

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The Healing Power Of A Plant Based Diet, Part 4 – Asthma

Inhaler from Flickr via Wylio
© 2008 allispossible.org.uk, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

Asthma seems to be SO common doesn’t it?

Don’t you know at least, like, 6 people that have it?

I know I do.

What’s more, I used to be a chronic sufferer myself – twofold, in fact.

What on earth do I mean by twofold? Well, I had good ol’, plain ol’, regular standard asthma; and I also had chronic atopic asthma as an allergic reaction to fur.

Yes, you SHOULD be jealous – I had ALL of the fun.

If you’ve never experienced asthma, let me tell you that it can be horrific. Breathing in oxygen is our most basic need, and when you can’t do this effectively it’s frightening. Try breathing through a straw. A VERY THIN one. Sometimes it’s just like that. Sometimes it’s worse.

In the late nineties, I heard that eliminating dairy products might help my asthma and eczema (eczema is closely related to asthma in terms of its causes). This knowledge has clearly been around a long time.

I had suffered enough to want to give this a try.

If you’ve read my ‘about’ page, you’ll know that I succeeded in ridding myself of asthma by going vegan. To be more specific; my ‘general’ asthma has completely gone since going vegan – I haven’t had an inhaler in years.

My atopic asthma as an allergic reaction to fur has also significantly improved, and I can enjoy a visit to the house of a friend that has a dog or cat, which I couldn’t before. The allergic reactions haven’t completely gone, I still have to wash my hands thoroughly in hot water after stroking any furry animal, otherwise they itch like crazy; and if, say, I’m visiting a house with a cat or dog in winter, with all windows closed and heating on; I’ll start sneezing and my lungs will definitely let me know THEY KNOW there is an allergen in the vicinity. Some allergies I believe are too systemic to completely disappear.

However, this is a vast improvement on before – and I just avoid putting myself in the ‘hot, stifling house with fur’ situation, so I’m asthma-free all the time!

I personally know of two other long-time asthma sufferers that had always used inhalers. They went vegan fairly recently and after a while no longer needed medication and now consider themselves asthma-free.

So that’s my personal story and some anecdotal evidence – but what happened when actual scientific studies took place?

Incredible huh? (BTW – if you haven’t already subscribed to NutritionFacts.org, you really should. Dr Michael Greger is an expert on all things plant-based and health related).

And in this article on Dr T Colin Campbell’s nutritionstudies.org website, we see that dairy consumption is linked to many diseases, including asthma. The original article was written in 1997 and updated in 2015 – so again, this information is NOT new!

Seemingly, even Hippocrates back in 370BC knew cow’s milk wasn’t the universal health elixir it is cracked up to be:

‘Hippocrates first observed and wrote about negative reactions to cow’s milk around 370 BC, since when, the prevalence, awareness and understanding of this allergy has increased. Milk allergy is one of the major allergies in infants and is caused by the proteins present in cow’s milk’ ~ The Food Safety Hazard Guidebook, by Richard Lawley, Laurie Curtis, Judy Davis, 2008

No-one ever got asthma by eating broccoli. Or brown rice. Or apples.

Disappointingly, on the NHS website you have to click through to the last menu option ‘living with asthma‘ and right down at the bottom it does mention that cow’s milk (along with other animal products like eggs and shellfish) can be a trigger for asthma.

Given the amazing results of the Swedish study in the video above, you think they’d mention this on their asthma homepage.

They also put links to the Asthma UK website where I eventually found an option called ‘asthma triggers’ (really not obvious to find at all in amongst a tonne of other options), and then had to click on ‘food’ (again, this was in among 17 other options; it wasn’t even the first one). I clicked on food, and it DOES cite milk and dairy products at the top of the list of food triggers, but is not very positive and encouraging about avoiding them, and gives FALSE information regarding the impact of dairy on calcium intake and bones!

Milk and milk products – You may have heard there’s a link between dairy foods and asthma, but only a very small percentage of people are allergic to milk products. For them, eating these foods may result in wheezing. Dairy allergy is more common in children but they often grow out of it as their digestive system matures. Calcium-rich dairy products are essential for healthy bones, especially for children and adolescents. And people with asthma can be at higher risk of bone disease osteoporosis (which causes thinning, brittle bones and increases risk of fractures) because of the use of steroid medication. So you should only avoid dairy products if necessary, ensuring you replace them with other sources of calcium under the guidance of your GP, nurse or a dietitian.

Again, the results of the Swedish study conflict drastically with this.

Ugh. Just…Ugh.

It seems that as well as avoiding dairy, including lots of fresh fruit and veg in your diet also helps reduce asthma symptoms; so we can easily surmise that a whole food, plant-based diet would be your best bet for improving asthma, and maybe never suffering from it again.

If you’re an asthma sufferer and haven’t tried avoiding animal products yet in a bid to improve your condition – what are you waiting for? Why suffer needlessly? I mean, why?

I know parents of children with asthma who, despite me passing on the above information, are reluctant to take dairy out of their children’s diets.

Now, when parents are advised to do other things to treat disease in their children, they DO it – like giving them antibiotics for example.

Antibiotics have side-effects, while avoiding dairy only has benefits, so why wouldn’t you want to treat your kid in a non-harmful, plenty-beneficial way?

The only reason I can think of is that they genuinely fear their child would miss out on nutrients, or maybe just not be receptive to the idea.

If your child has asthma and you’d like to make their diet more plant-based but don’t know how open to this they would be, maybe this post will help.

If you need more reasons (besides just curing yourself of asthma) to give up cow’s milk and dairy, read this.

If cheese is your downfall, read this.

You know what? If you don’t think you can do it long-term just commit to three weeks. See how you feel then and re-evaluate.

Life is waaaay too short to lose any of it to wheezing and spluttering and feeling like your lungs are about to explode. Take back control over your windpipe and lungs! Don’t let the dairy and animal agriculture industries commit you to a wheezy, hacking, breathless future.

 

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Seriously, How DO You Give Up Cheese?

Cheese stall, Borough Market, London SE1 from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Paul Wilkinson, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

I’ve touched on this subject before, but it’s such a common stumbling block for newbie vegans, it’s always worth coming back to.

I honestly do get the cheese thing. And in a moment you’ll see I’m not just saying that to sound relatable.

I lived in France in my teens and early twenties and probably ate some of the world’s best cheeses. Can I say that? I think I can. Approximately 65 – 75% of the world doesn’t eat dairy, it’s mostly a European thing (or seems to have its origins in Europe), so I think it’s fair to say France probably has what is generally considered to be the best cheese.

I wasn’t a huge blue cheese fan, but I never met a soft cheese I didn’t like, Camembert and Brie were definite favourites, Emmental on fish soup tasted like heaven (OK, that’s Swiss), gouda and apple was a well-loved snack (OK that’s Dutch), and fromage blanc with sugar was a yummy simple dessert (that’s pretty damn French).

And I ate SO MUCH of it. I always found it hard to stop eating cheese in terms of the amount I ate at one sitting. I will never understand those diets that say you can eat what you ate before, just smaller amounts. How DO you do that? If I ate some of the cheese, I wanted ALL of the cheese. Being an animal product, cheese has ZERO fibre, so it doesn’t fill you up. This is why it’s more difficult to stop eating cheese than it is to stop eating rice, say, or beans.

And you wanna know why cheese is just so damn hard to give up?

Because it’s smack, that’s why.

Well, almost.

Dairy contains casomorphins. These are opiate-like peptides designed to keep the calf interested in suckling its mother’s milk.

All dairy contains a protein called casein. Because cheese is the most concentated form of casein, it contains an abundance of casomorphin and is thus more addictive than other dairy products.

When you know this, it helps with the intellectual motivation to give cheese the old heave-ho; isn’t it weird that natural opiates that were meant for a baby cow are having their wicked way with YOU, an entirely different species?

OK, you get this. But now let’s get practical. How do you actually get cheese out of your life without feeling deprived or having cravings?

Now I’m not sure we can eliminate cravings entirely – casomorphin is a drug after all; but we can reduce them, and distract ourselves from them by eating a ton of delicious, flavourful, texture-rich food.

They say it takes approximately twenty-one days to make or break a habit, so absolute worst case scenario; in three weeks, any cravings you’ve had should be gone.

Now the billion-dollar question:

How do we stay sane for three whole weeks without cheese?

Here are some ideas:

1. While transitioning away from cheese, if you have hellacious cravings, try cheese substitutes.

Don’t worry; there are some great ones now.

Want melted cheese, on toast, on pizza, on pasta or on a baked potato?

In the US, try Daiya or Follow Your Heart.

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Daiya comes shredded too – excellent for pizza topping or on toast.

I’ve tried both of these many times and in my opinion, they are the best.

Brits, you can order Daiya here.

In the UK, the rest of Europe, South Africa, Israel and Jordan, try Violife. I’ve had the slices and they were excellent, but they do cheese that melts too (I’ve not tried this, but if the slices were anything to go by, it’s probably great. If you’ve tried it – let me know in the comments!)

There are other vegan cheeses in the UK that have been around for a while (naming no names!) but they are pretty gross, and even grosser melted. I believe Violife is the best vegan cheese to date.

Want a soft cheese?

In the US, try Kite Hill or Treeline Treenut Cheese.

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I tried the plain version of Kite Hill and it absolutely blew me away with how much like Camembert it tasted. They’ve basically put the same plant-based cultures that are in dairy soft cheeses – into almond milk. The effect is uncanny. I don’t think you could tell it wasn’t a dairy cheese if you didn’t know.

In the UK, Tyne Chease is about to launch, which is the same thing but with cultured cashew milk instead of almond milk. This promises to be fabulous too.

Spreadable cheese anyone?

Daiya to the rescue AGAIN!

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I ‘ve not yet tried this, and there are lots of other options, so find what’s best for you.

Violife do a spreadable cheese too, so I’d try here first in the UK and Europe.

None of these cheeses are too unhealthy either. In the past vegan cheeses have been made with yucky trans-fats, but no more. The soft cheeses, being made from cultured nut-milk and nothing else, are definitely healthy. In any case, NO vegan cheese contains saturated fat, cholesterol, casein (the most relevant food-based carcinogen in existence) and hormones, like animal cheeses do; so health wise they’ll always be a better bet.

 

2. Replicate that cheesy taste and texture with other foods.

For many years, Nutritional Yeast has been best friend to many vegans, particularly in the US.

IMG_20150529_201316230
Affectionately known as ‘nooch’

Thanks to the internet, it’s now available everywhere.

It’s ace at bestowing a cheesy flavour upon your favourite foods. Use it on pasta dishes, popcorn, in vegan ‘cheese’ sauces, on mashed potato etc. Anywhere you want essence of cheese, really.

Don’t worry if you’re yeast-sensitive, it’s actually de-activated yeast so shouldn’t trigger any issues.

It’s also a good source of vitamin B12!

 

 

 

 

 

Tahini sauce can do a good job of tasting like a cheesy dressing. Mix light tahini with water to make a thin sauce; add lemon juice, soy sauce (or salt), and garlic powder. Pour it on salads, over jacket potato, or just dip into it with whole wheat bread or rice crackers etc.

My recipe for it is here. The internet can surely provide others. The more you make it the more you’ll make it to your taste and you’ll find you develop your own version.

 

3. Explore, explore, explore. Try food from all around the world. Try eating food from cultures that just don’t eat cheese.

Because we have cheese in our culture (or culture in our cheese 🙂 ), some dishes were created AROUND it, so to just take the cheese out of these dishes will often mean you’ll feel like you’re missing something.

If you eat Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Ethiopian, in fact food from most African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries where cheese is just not a part of the daily diet, you’ll find the flavours and textures so rich, full and satiating, you won’t miss cheese at all.

 

Final note:

If you’re trying your hardest to go fully plant-based but just can’t let cheese go, then DON’T.

Vegan police: WTF?

Me: Shutup

Here’s why I say this:

If cheese is your only weakness, then give up every other animal product apart from cheese – for now. As myself and many other vegan teachers say, don’t do nothing because you can’t do everything.

I’m confident that as you progress and learn more about the ethical, environmental and wellness benefits of a plant-based diet, and as you start to feel better health-wise and clearer of mind, your body and intuition will gradually see that you turn away from it.

 

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Get Cow’s Milk Into Context – And The Heck Out Of Your Life!

Milk Drop from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 Chris Pelliccione, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio

If you’re here in the first place, you are no doubt on the way (either in practice or in the thinking process) to eliminating cow’s milk from your lifestyle.

For more incentive, you just have to consider the following:

 

  • How utterly (or udderly – God, SORRY!) random it is that humans drink the baby milk from an entirely different species. Goats don’t drink chimp milk. Cats don’t drink pig milk.
  • That calves don’t even drink their mother’s milk after they’ve been weaned, at 6-12 months old.
  • That if we no longer drink our mother’s milk (‘cos that would be gross right?), why do we drink calves mother’s milk all our lives?
  • That cow’s milk is meant to grow a little calf into a four hundred pound cow in a short space of time, so of course it is too concentrated a source of protein and hormones for humans. Because of this, we know it causes us health problems (i.e. cancer, diabetes, heart disease, to name just a very few).
  • That you’d look a bit weird suckling milk from a cow’s udder, but that is in effect what you’re doing every time you drink milk.
  • That as much as you think it is YOU that made a personal independent choice when you were younger to drink cow’s milk – it has zero to do with you, and a lot more to do with the fact that cows are the cheapest, easiest animals to feed and shelter, and so therefore the most profitable to extract milk from.  This is why it’s the only milk that’s been offered and advertised to you since you were a tot. If giraffes were easiest and cheapest to keep, you’d be supping on a latte with giraffe milk right now, and believing THAT to be totally normal. You’re actually being more in control and more independent of thought if you don’t drink cow’s milk.
  • That you can drink cow’s milk that’s as organic as you please, where the cows are read fairy tales every night, but it will ALWAYS contain hormones.
  • That livestock agriculture (which of course includes dairy farming) is the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, and a tonne of other environmental nasties.
  • That the baby male cows that are born on dairy farms (and there’s a lot of them – after all, dairy cows are kept pregnant for the most part so that they will lactate), are not profitable to the dairy industry. They are either stuck in veal crates, or killed. Sometimes in front of their mother (don’t forget cows have exactly the same capacity to suffer as we do, so it may be wise to think how we’d feel in this scenario).
  • That even held up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny and critical thinking. It makes no sense for us, the planet or the cows for us to drink cow’s milk. Why continue?

 

If you need a resource on healthy cow’s milk alternatives, pop on over to this post.

On my coaching programs you will learn how to eat, drink and cook without cow’s milk (or any dairy). You will realise a whole new level of wellbeing and clear-headedness, and I promise you, you will not miss it one teeny-tiny bit.

 

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