Milk without Money

Well perhaps not, but I thought that quote from Isaiah 55.1 was appropriate since that’s what it can seem like when trying to eat less meat and animal products.  It seems like there is dairy everywhere, flowing with milk and honey indeed!

Just after Tim’s most recent post about dairy and its relationship to being a repentant carnivore, I realized just how big of a deal dairy is. Over this past week I’ve been out and about a lot. I’ve been at family and church gatherings and also been caught having to eat at restaurants a number of times. When it comes to family and church gatherings I think these situations are probably most difficult for meat avoidance.  At one family gathering this past week, it was either eat meat or virtually nothing at all (my wife’s family had a crawfish boil, though I’m not sure about the ecology of eating crawfish).

In the case of eating out, I am realizing that vegetarian eating decisions are sometimes fairly easy to make while vegan ones often are not (There are no restaurants that I know of with vegan offerings anywhere within about a 45 minute drive from my home).  The reason for this is that many of the vegetarian dishes that I have seen, at least at the restaurants I have eaten at recently, contain cheese or some other dairy product as a primary ingredient.

One meal that I ate was at a microbrewery that is also a restaurant.  I mainly go there for the beer 😉 (and please no one tell me that beer is ecologicially bad, I’m not sure I could bear that this early on in trying to make a change), but my wife likes the food.  Oddly enough, there they had several vegetarian style offerings (Based on past experiences I would normally not expect a brewhouse to be so sensitive).  Yet in each case the vegetarian offerings had cheese as one of the primary ingredients.  So, I did the best I could.  I ordered the personal size vegetarian pizza.  I suppose I could have asked them to hold the cheese, but I’m not sure how appetizing that would have been.

In another case, my wife and I ate at our local Greek and Lebanese restaurant called Albasha.  I like Albasha’s fare because many of the dishes that I like are devoid of meat.  However, once again everything usually comes with some sort of yogurt sauce or dressing.  I ordered the falafel sandwich.  It had a bit of a creamy tahini sauce on it and it came with feta salad, but I did feel better about it than the vegetarian pizza.

I guess these experiences just reinforced that one’s decision about dairy can be a really important one and one that I have been thinking a great deal about…

2 thoughts on “Milk without Money”

  1. Another 2 cents from me.

    A vegan diet is *really* artificial. It’s not so important if you’re eating a meat meal most days, but going exclusively vegan is, in my opinion, an environmental can of worms!

    I can see the animal-rights angle on being vegan, but not the environmental one.

    To farm without petro-chemicals (something we’ll have to learn to do if we want to feed the world and have squandered all our precious oil), you need manure (or blood and bone or other animal products). Of course, you don’t need to eat the animals that are making your manure, and you could make blood and bone at the end of an animal’s natural life – but they don’t seem to me like particularly viable options. In addition, animals (including dairy animals) can make use of marginal land that you simply can’t grow crops on. I used to live in Switzerland, and it was striking to see that all the crops were grown in the valleys and plains (Switzerland does have some plains!), and the goats and cattle inhabited the mountains.

    Also, a vegan diet can easily be deficient in all sorts of micronutrients – iron, calcium and vitamin B12 spring to mind. I was intrigued that the vegan society of NZ website reccomended 2-3 servings per day of fortified foods – a tacit admission that their diet fundamentally doesn’t work.

    I think it is significant that no one in the whole world was vegan before the 1940s (or at least, I can find no evidence of it), but people have been vegetarian + dairy in Asia for millenia.

    So I firmly believe that repentant carnivores who wish to eat in such a way that there’s enough to go around can eat dairy products with impunity 😉 Although, in the US, you might want to be seeking out ‘grass-fed’ dairy – otherwise my ‘marginal land’ arguments don’t apply. I have no idea how easy or hard that might be to find where you are.

  2. Heather,
    Thanks again for your insight. As I’ve been working through this, I have already been incorporating a bit more milk and dairy back into my diet. Partly I’ve been doing that due to the first point you bring up. I think it was after trying faux meat that I began to wonder if I was “sowing wind” only to “reap a whirlwind.” I was substituting something that I could get naturally with something manufactured, which I really have no idea about what was used to make it.

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