Ditching the Dairy

At the restaurant we are constantly looking at the ways in which we can enhance the amount of nutrition in the food we serve. There is a few ways in which we really try and get the best from our food. Whether it is using produce in its prime (organic, ripe, seasonal and fresh) or choosing ingredients for their advanced nutritional benefits. Another way in which we try and achieve this is by removing, for the most part, dairy from the restaurant. I have found a multitude of positives to using plant based alternatives to milk, cream and yoghurt that I felt it was really important to bring the ethos to the restaurant too. 

  • Cancer prevention- There is no sugar coating this benefit of avoiding dairy. For animals to be able to produce milk on a commercial level they are injected with growth hormones throughout their lives. These hormones make the cows develop quicker and make more milk. Although the ingestion of these hormones has not been show to cause cancer, it has been suggested that it may promote the grow or regrowth of cancer in the body. For me, it isn’t worth having anything in my system that could jeopardise my health.  
  • What is in my Milk- The growth hormones given to cows and the increasing mechanisation of farming techniques has another side effect to dairy. Over milking cows and demanding more from animals means that most dairy cows suffer with infections in their udders called mastitis. Milk contains white blood cells from the cow to you. If an infection is present (such as mastitis) those white blood cells will carry it with it. It won’t make you sick or unwell but I’m not keen thinking of drinking cow pus! 
  • Talking of the cows- it is impossible to take a product from an animal and not realise there is likely to be an element of cruelty. More and more there has been a lot of focus on the negative treatment of dairy cows and the detrimental affect that the industry has on these gentle creatures. Cows are inseminated constantly to induce pregnancy. The calves are removed from their parents and considered a by-product of the industry. As a result male calves are destroyed within a few days of being born while female calves are reared on growth hormone rich synthetic milk so we can have their mother’s. Humans are the only animal on the planet that consumes another animal’s milk and the more I think about it, the odder it seems.  
  • Nutrition- Where do cows get all the nutrients found in Milk? Plants… So why don’t we go straight to the source? There is nothing found in Cows milk that cannot be found in plant based alternatives such as coconut milk, soy or almond milk/cream. Nut based milks are an excellent source of amino fatty acids, B vitamins and omega 3 (of course there is a huge range of plant based milks with a variety of differing benefits). I don’t need the same nutrition as a baby cow, they are huge! Many people believe this is part of the reason for the increase in Lactose intolerance.  
  • Environmental benefits- There is a general assertion that animal agriculture is a huge driving force for environmental change and the production of greenhouse gases. Deforestation for grazing, water use and emissions from the cows themselves all have a negative impact on the earth not to mention the carbon footprint from distribution.  
  • Adding invention and adventure to cooking- It may seem strange to say that eliminating a very diverse product has opened up culinary options to me but the process of replicating flavour, texture and quality is something I truly relish. It has made me look at a much wider repertoire of ingredients and techniques which ensures constant development and growth.