I feel like the almond milk “trend” started years ago and then things like cashew milk and coconut milk became super popular, and for good reason! Of course, people have been drinking nut milks for years, but it only became big 5 or so years ago. I’m not vegan myself, but nut milks and cheeses are favourites of mine.
Talking about dairy can sometimes stir the pot. Some people feel very strongly about having a glass of milk everyday or a bowl of yogurt to get their calcium in. I try to educate those people (and everyone) on why there are better alternatives and ways to get all the nutrients you need without consuming dairy. Dairy contains tons of antibiotics and growth hormones. Why? Cows are given growth hormones, so they can grow rapidly and produce more. Antibiotics are given to all cows, regardless of if they’re ill or not to prevent them from getting sick. Fortunately, Canada does not use growth hormones or antibiotics, however if you look at where your yogurt, cheese, or milk comes from, it could be from the States. Dairy is slightly acidic thus can cause acidity in the body.
Fun fact: when the body is too acidic, calcium is leached from the bones to buffer out the acidity, so consuming a ton of dairy is kind of counterintuitive if you think you’re getting calcium.
Dairy can be a huge issue for people who are lactose intolerant, or even if you haven’t been diagnosed as that. An enzyme called lactase is what is used to break down milk sugars and without enough of this, digestive issues can arise causing inflammation. Some may find if they consume a lot of dairy products, that they become constipated. That’s most likely due to that fact that dairy has little to zero fibre and we need fibre to keep us regular. Just a thought, cows milk is designed to make calves gain weight and grow rapidly…do we want that as humans?
There are so many dairy free alternatives out now and it’s great. From almond to cashew to coconut to oat. These alternatives, because they’re dairy free, aren’t going to have added hormones or antibiotics. There is no need for someone to have enough lactase because that enzyme is not needed for plant alternatives, and inflammation wouldn’t become an issue.
Also, a fun fact, most nut milks actually contain more calcium than cow milk does.
Your nut milks can also be additive free if made at home, which is super easy to do, and I’ll tell you how!
Soak 2 cups of nuts of your choice overnight in water. The next day, rinse until the water runs clear. Soaking reduces some of the phytic acid which is what inhibits the body from absorbing nutrients. Then put your nuts into a high-power blender with 4-5 cups of filtered water. You can also add vanilla, dates, or cinnamon for flavour. Blend until you can’t see pieces of the nuts anymore. If using cashews, there’s no need to strain the milk but if using anything else, you might want to strain it through a nut milk bag (they are easily found on Amazon). Once strained, pour into glass jars or bottles and refrigerate for 5-6 days.
I’m not against all dairy and I do still sometimes consume it myself. When I do, I try to make sure it is organic and grass-fed. If you consume dairy often and aren’t ready to give it up, I suggest you switch to organic and grass-fed as well. Making the switch can be an adjustment, as anything is, but give it a shot and notice the improvements. A good way to start switching is using nut milks in smoothies instead of dairy, also in baking and cooking.
Pictured is chia seed pudding with strawberries, coconut and sunflower seeds. It's super easy to make an a go-to of mine because it's so easy to prep. All you need is 4-5 tbsp chia seeds and 1 cup of non-dairy milk. Put into a jar, shake, let it sit and then shake again 10 minutes later. As the seeds begin to soak up the milk, they turn into a pudding type consistency, so you want to shake it a couple of times to break it up. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and breakfast is done! I usually add in cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and then top it off with some fruit. Delicious!