Sunday, May 11, 2014

From Bit of Earth Blog: Mother Love

New post on bit of earth blog

Mother Love

by Hannah
Mother Love
Written by Lori Denson
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Today my daughter Hannah will drive up from school to spend the day with me.  Happiness!  If you know me even casually, you know that, for me, happiness and Hannah are inextricably linked in my life.  Her birth profoundly redirected and focused my energies.  My heart found home.  The bond we share is sturdy and rooted deeply, only growing stronger as we have both moved through challenges as well as joyful experiences.  My life is no longer just my own.  Nor would I want it to be.  The connection with her inspires transcendence.  Giving meaning and a sense of the sacred even while experiencing the most mundane of activities.
I feel deeply the instinct to protect her.  To love and snuggle and nurture.  I feel pleasure when she is happy.  I feel pain when she is in distress.  And always, the deep desire to stay connected. These are the blessings of motherhood and they are not limited to the bond between human mothers and their children.  Animals care about and for their babies too.  Wild animals and farmed animals as well.  I became vegetarian years ago, right after graduating college, before becoming vegan in the past two.  I knew what dairy and egg farming entailed but I kept these grim realities at the furthest periphery of awareness.  I felt I would miss cheese too much.  I made excuses in my own mind and rationalized that maybe there was some pain involved in the production of dairy products and eggs but for the most part the animals’ lives were okay.  I purchased organic milk and free range eggs, telling myself these were more ethical choices.  I loved to bake and I felt sure I couldn’t achieve the delicious results I was accustomed to without milk and butter and eggs.  Most of all, I thought I would feel deprived if I became vegan.  I was wrong on all counts.  
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So what exactly is wrong with dairy?  Putting aside the detrimental environmental and health consequences, let’s focus on the ethical problem with consuming dairy products.
All animal farming relies on the exploitation of mother animals.  Dairy production is one of the most disturbing examples of this.  Mother cows are forcibly impregnated over and over again as long as they are producing adequate quantities of milk.  Their babies are taken away from them immediately or within a day or two.  The mother cow protests, wailing and mourning.  Many who live within earshot of dairy farms hear these plaintive cries.  The baby is frightened and panicked.  If the tiny calf is born a male, he is sold to a veal farm to spend his short life in intensive crated confinement.  If she is a baby girl, she will be brought into the same sad life as her mother.  If for some reason, the calf is allowed to stay in the presence of his or her mom, a spiked nose ring is installed so that the mother experiences pain when her baby tries to nurse.  Eventually she pushes her baby away.  And what happens when the dairy cow is no longer producing sufficient milk?  She is no longer useful and does not become the family pet.  These are the realities of dairy farming, even within the “humane” movement.  After all, humans couldn’t steal the milk if the calf was allowed to nurse.
While there are ubiquitous and deceptive marketing campaigns promoting milk and milk products, in reality, humans have absolutely no need to drink cows milk or consume dairy products.  Human breast milk is for human infants.  Makes sense, right?  And most humans stop producing lactase after weaning, precisely because the need for milk has stopped.  No wonder so many of us have trouble digesting dairy comfortably and have become well acquainted with the notion of lactose intolerance.  When you take a step back from the way in which we’ve been indoctrinated, it is a strange phenomenon indeed to consistently consume the milk of another mammal.
Why is the idea of drinking the milk of a cat or dog or even a rat so repulsive to us, yet drinking the milk of a cow has become a picture of health and nostalgia?
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All of us, whether we are parents or not, understand what it is to love and to be bonded to another.  To care deeply about the other’s happiness, peace and safety.  We feel the pain when those we love or even those we don’t know personally are suffering.
This is not just the gift of mothering.  This is the gift of being human. 
We transcend our own narcissistic experience of life when we place ourselves in another’s position and make choices based on that awareness.  There is joy and contentment and peace in that choice.
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So what is the alternative? 
There are many delicious and nutritious dairy free milks available.  Made from almond or hazelnut or oat or soy.  They each have unique tastes and consistencies and are worth sampling to find what appeals to you and your family.  If I’m buying milk, I like Almond Breeze Unsweetened Original or Organic Valley Original Soy.  Wildwood and Organic Valley both make delicious soy creamers.  If you’re going with soy, be sure to get organic.  Don’t want those GMOs.
The best option for taste and health is to make your own.  And it’s simple and strangely satisfying to do.  I make a batch every few days and it’s incredibly delicious.  Much much better tasting than dairy milk.  I’ve listed my favorite: Brazil Nut and Walnut milk.  Nuts are packed with protein, fiber and essential fats.  Brazil Nuts are a wonderful source of selenium, which is great for thyroid and immune functions and may also protect against colon cancer.  Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3s.  I make  almond milk for Hannah as she is allergic to most nuts.  Almonds are calcium rich and high in vitamin E.  Post on almond milk to come soon.
Both types of milk are delicious in all applications where you’d normally use cows milk.  Over cereal or oatmeal.  In tea or coffee.  Smoothies or milkshakes.  And in baking.  Also just wonderfully delicious enjoyed plain or mixed up with some chocolate syrup or maybe just a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.  You can change up the amounts of dates and vanilla depending on your preference.  I try to always use organic nuts and dates and filtered water.
Enjoy in good health!
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Brazil Nut/Walnut Milk
  • ½ cup Brazil Nuts
  • ½ cup Walnuts
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2-4 dates, pitted
  • 2-3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut butter
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender. A VitaMix works great. Blend until smooth (about a minute) and then strain through a sieve or nut milk bag if desired. (I do not strain mine because I like the thicker creamy consistency of the milk. But that’s purely personal!)
P.S. I made banana bread today using up the tail end of my nut milk.  Wish you could smell the kitchen!  Banana Walnut Bread recipe to come in the future.  :)
Happy Mothers Day to all mothers of all species everywhere!
Hannah | May 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Tags: animal rights, connection, food culture, real food, vegan, vegan recipe, veganism, writing | Categories: Writing | URL:
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1 comment:

Stickup Artist said...

I like Trader Joe's organic rice milk. It's delicious. So is the chocolate almond milk. We are so very fortunate to have so many economical, delicious and nutritious alternatives close by. The movement is sure growing!