The last issue of Good put cow milk up against soy to see which one trumped over environmental friendliness. Blogger Miyuki McGuffie considers the pros and cons of drinking milk altogether.
Milk has never been my beverage of choice. Flavoured, yes and on cereal, of course! But the fact remains that I don’t actually like it. I’ve drunk trim my entire life (breast aside) and continue to do so because I don’t like the taste of 'real' milk. A few years back my bf and I tried soy but for various reasons didn’t stick with it.
Reading The Ethics of What We Eat and doing some additional research on dairy industry practices was enough to put me off milk forever. Some horrors include but are not limited to:
- Slaughter after 8–10 years of production (a cow’s natural lifespan is 25 years).
- Distress to cow and calf when calves are taken away from their mothers shortly after birth, some as soon as a few hours.
- Calves born to suffer the same fate as their mothers (if female) or being raised for veal (if male), another issue in itself.
- Forced reproduction in the form of artificial insemination and inflammation and hardening of the udder (mastitis).
With this in mind, I decided to seek out alternatives to cow’s milk, the most obvious being soy.
There is one brand of soy milk that I know I like: an organic, Australian brand which I can’t name because I can’t remember and now cannot find at the supermarket. It’s nutty, a good consistency without being too creamy (no furry teeth afterwards either) and just seems really authentic compared to other brands of soy I’ve tried. The only problem? Tetrapak. Oh organic, Australian brand, darn you and your packaging only recyclable in Auckland. Not to mention your off-shore country of origin.
With this and all other tetrapaked milks out of the question, I turned to a couple of soy brands, in fact, the only brands available at New World (the only reasonably accessible supermarket for anyone living in the suburbs adjacent to Wellington city) in recyclable containers.
To cut a long story short and not turn this blog into a milk review, I didn’t like them. I even tried making my own almond milk by soaking, blending and straining the nuts but there was something about it, either the watery flavour or consistency that made me want to gag.
Another option for the milk drinker concerned with the welfare of dairy cows would be happy milk from happy cows, as the label on a bottle of Zorganic milk proclaims to be. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this product at an organic food store I would never have known such a thing existed. I have since noticed Zorganic milk on the shelves at New World and my local dairy.
At first, replacing my regular, questionable, corporate milk with an ethically sound small business brand seemed like a great idea. But by then my problems had gone past the matter of the milk itself.
Suddenly it didn’t make much sense to be putting a perfectly good plastic bottle in the recycling each week. Why waste resources on shipping, melting and remoulding something that is still useable in its current form? Sure, organic milk in a recyclable bottle from a cow that was treated nicely could be the best option (even better being locally produced soy milk in that same bottle), but don’t the three Rs tell us to reduce and reuse before we recycle? Not to mention the debate over why we should drink cow’s milk in the first place.
In the end I decided that the best option for me was to not drink milk at all. I don’t have any use for one plastic bottle on its own, let alone one per week, even if it did contain an ethically sound product. My goal is to eliminate milk from my diet altogether, but the journey to that particular nirvana is another story (and another blog post).