Vegan milk is the future
Sean O'Callaghan also known as Fat Gay Vegan grimaces over his past love of dairy
As is the case for a lot of us, I was vegetarian for a few years before I was vegan. I went vegan overnight when the lightbulb went off in my head but up until that moment, I sure did drink a lot of milk from cows.
Guzzling is the best verb to describe how I consumed dairy milk. It makes me feel a little queasy thinking about how much milk I used to drink. If I went out for a meal, I was the weirdo who ordered a glass of milk with dinner even if we were having burgers and fries. Bleurgh!
I thought I was the king of compassion because I didn't eat animals, but the arrival of accessible information via the Internet meant that my mind was exposed to the truth of the dairy industry. Message boards for sharing vegan information made me understand the non-stop, systemic cruelty associated with industrial dairy production.
Learning about cows being impregnated and having their calves taken from them before they could bond, just so humans like me could take the milk, struck me as an unacceptable trade off. Add in the fact about the impregnation process being repeated over and over until the cow was too ill and my mind was made up.
The physical and emotional brutality inflicted on dairy cows was not something for which I wanted to be directly responsible… the calves destined to become dairy cows themselves, or the calves deemed worthless who are literally discarded.
My early vegan days were tough-going for a milk lover like me, as it was difficult to find plant-derived milks that tasted any good.
It was more than 20 years ago when I made the switch to dairy-free and I recall there being extremely limited options. I used to buy soya milk sweetened with apple juice and typically went without due to how scarce vegan milks were at the time.
There were no plant-based options in coffee shops and my partner was even laughed at by cabin crew on a flight when he dared ask for soya milk.
Pioneering vegans going back earlier than my story had it even tougher, but thanks to Plamil (a shortening of Plant Milk, founded in 1964), vegans in the UK have had access to vegan milk in some form for decades. They were first on the market and the only option for a very long time.
The vegan milk scene of 2021 feels like I'm living on a different planet when compared with decades long ago. You can now trip over signs advertising vegan milk options outside mainstream coffee shops on every high street and main road on the planet.
Supermarkets showcase dozens of plant-based milk options in specially-created dairy-free chilled sections. Shoppers can choose from pea, soya, cashew, oat, almond, hemp, and so many other vegan milk options that I can't recall them!
As more and more people embrace plant-based milks as their preferred choice, the market will keep growing and new innovations will keep arriving. Several refillable milk bottle services have even sprung up around larger cities all around the world, allowing customers to choose dairy-free while also reducing their carbon footprint and plastic waste.
Make your own, source from a local supplier, or buy a big-name brand. Whatever way you look at it, vegan milk is part of a kinder future for people, cows and the planet.
Follow Sean's (Fat Gay Vegan) adventures on Instagram @fatgayvegan