As a vegan, calcium is one of the biggest debates we are faced with.
Why? Well, what we have been taught is that cows milk is what makes our bones strong and is the best source of calcium for the human body.
From T.V commercials to granny’s old stories about how back in her day fresh cows milk came straight from the farm with minimal additives and use to get delivered in glass bottles to your door. Let's not forget about all the advertising and gimmick marketing that you find on all your favourite and trusted food labels. Who wouldn’t believe cows milk is good for your health when you are saturated to believe so?
For me, I had 1-2L of milk a day as a child growing up. I would start with it on my weet-bix for breakfast. I would then have a cold glass of milk after a hard day at school, with milo of course and if that wasn’t enough, I would have another glass before bed to dunk my Tim Tams in as a reward or treat for the day. My ‘healthy’ vegemite and cheese sandwich on white processed bread, packet of chips and meat with three vegetables for dinner covered in tomato or BBQ sauce, was considered normal. For the average growing Aussie kid, this was also considered ‘healthy’ according to all the advertisements out there.
What about all the other nutrients I was missing? The advertisements failed to educate me and my family about that.
I was sick regularly, had eczema and asthma, a history of respiratory issues and skin issues, lacked energy and wasn’t performing to my optimum physically, mentally and emotionally. At the time, I did not link my poor health status (even though I was considered to be healthy and average at the time) to what I was putting in my body. Now that I have removed milk and all animal products as an adult, these issues have now cleared.
My health is only inclining and I’m feeling better each and every day.
Dr Andrew Little and Benny talk about calcium specifically in this episode and bust the all-time myth that cows milk is the best source of calcium.
During Dr Andrews transition to a vegetarian and vegan diet, he believed he needed calcium from dairy. He was drinking 6L of milk a week as well as 1kg of cheese.
Once he started researching and studying the impact of the dairy industry on the health of the planet and the health of humans, Dr Andrew quickly learnt that the answer was to transition completely off all dairy products.
He soon came to realise that his cheese habits were an addiction.
He craved it and then realised this was more a mental issue and craving than an intuitive need for cheese to provide nutrients to the body. Majority of peoples food habits are based on addiction and Dr Andrew explains that the food companies know this and capitalise off of it. We have been wired to crave high-calorie foods in the form of dairy, processed sugars and meat.
Our challenge as a society today is to explore our relationships with food and get back in touch with what our bodies actually need to nourish them. Not what necessarily tastes good in the short term and that we have been made to crave. More so what we are naturally intended to consume.
This was hard for me transitioning to an organic dairy-free diet, to begin with, but after as little as one week, I felt the difference in my body, saw the difference in the mirror-my skin was beginning to clear, my waistline was slimming and I just felt good. This was motivation enough for me to keep exploring the whole food plant-based life and commit to being dairy-free for good.