Our experiments into cutting out some of the things which are so entrenched into our diets all started just over a year ago. I had long suffered with a minor digestive problem and often experienced some discomfort after eating. Despite visits to the doctor and attempts to find an allergy, such as gluten or lactose, I was unable to pinpoint exactly what caused it. Now, fortunately for me, this wasn’t a debilitating disorder, which so many others suffer from, but I was, nevertheless, curious to resolve the issue. Fortunately for my stomach, Maria (my lovely wife-to-be) and I both try to keep open-minded attitudes with everything we do and it is no different with food and diet. So began a series of, as yet, unfinished experiments with removing various things from our diet.
Part One – The Cow’s Milk Experiment…
We are both fruit and muesli nuts (yeah, I did it) and have it almost every day for breakfast. We are also dedicated morning coffee drinkers. Now, both of these, at the time, required a good amount of milk, so when Maria suggested experimenting with alternatives it seemed a big ask, no milk in coffee…no way! Luckily she was very supportive and agreed to join the trial with me.
Coffee turned out to be the easy part, as we both decided to go for black, milkless coffee, which meant we didn’t need a replacement. The first few cups took a bit of getting used to, but after a week or so we could hardly believe we hadn’t done this before, what a revelation! This was largely aided by the new coffee machine we had bought, which makes amazingly smooth coffee (Aeropress, highly recommended!). If you haven’t already made the switch to black coffee, I can’t recommend it enough, if not to reduce milk intake because that’s not your thing, then just because you’re denying yourself the true taste!
Now to tackle muesli…We started off with the classic soya replacement and were both fairly comfortable with the change, I think this was helped by a good amount of other flavours from nuts, fruits and seeds, so that the taste of the milk was never that important anyway. Since then we have forayed into the seemingly endless and confusing world of dairy alternatives including coconut, rice and almond milk (which one has more protein or less fat or is better for the environment or makes me look younger and instantly removes all wrinkles?), but we have always come back to soya milk, based on flavour and feeling.
There are health benefits too! I’m no nutritionist but it is generally accepted that you can reduce your cholesterol by quitting cow’s milk and it also contains a plethora of hormones and antibiotics, which just can’t be good for us. Both of us are aware of the existence of the environmental demand of growing things like soya beans and almonds (a current issue in California as well as other places) which make cow’s milk alternatives, but personally we would rather support the use of non-animal products which don’t require the cruelty and environmental damage caused by the dairy industry.
More than a year on and we are both still cow’s milk free and have no intention of drinking it again. Did removing it from my diet help with my digestion? Well, its hard to say, but I don’t think it had a dramatic effect in that sense but it did show me one thing; that we are all capable of changing habits possessed since birth if we so wish, and that knowledge gave us a certain confidence to accept other challenges regarding diet (see next post), lifestyle and the way we tend to view these things as “unchangeable”. Something like milk has always been there for us and just trying to live without it was a great experience and I can’t imagine returning to dairy milk anytime soon!