What do vegans eat? #2: Plant-based milk & cream

Even though you make a decision not to consume cow’s milk (or milk from any other animal), there are still a lot of types of milks out there to put on your cereal, to just drink or to use in cooking or baking. Plant-based milks can be used just like cow’s milk in pretty much any recipe. The same goes for plant-based creams.

There’s a whole bunch of different plant-based milks in the stores – the most common ones being soy-, oat-, rice- or almond-based – from different brands and with a little different flavor. Which one is the best is merely a question about taste, and of course what you plan to use the milk for. Finding your favorite is just a matter of trying different brands, since I have noticed different people prefer very different ones.

  • For drinking or putting in my coffee/chocolate drinks/smoothies I prefer sweetened milk. Usually we buy soy milk, but I also like almond milk for this purpose.
  • For cooking or baking using the unsweetened ones is usually better (in “emergency cases” when I don’t have unsweetened milk at home, I do use the sweetened one for this purpose as well), just for the sake that they don’t taste sweet. Here I like using oat- or soy-based milks.

The plant-based creams that can be found are usually based on soy, oat or rice. There are creams meant for cooking and baking, and also creams that can be whipped. Also here it is mainly a question of taste which is the best one, but I have my favorites:

  • For baking I like to use soy cream, since I have noticed it tends to give more moist cakes than when using for example oat cream.
  • For cooking I prefer oat cream, because it doesn’t have any after-taste, like the soy creams I have tried tend to have.
  • For whipping I usually use soy cream. I have tried using some different oat creams for this purpose as well, but their taste don’t suite me.

I decided not to mention any brands in this post even though I have my favorites. There are tons of different brands out there and their availability vary from country to country, here in Finland we have at least six different brands (probably more) of plant-based milk to choose from, so I’m sure you will be able to find your favorite among them.

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”- series:
#1: Tofu

I don’t want to pay for continued cruelty

Recently the animal rights group Oikeutta Eläimille released new footage from Finnish farms, this time including pig farms, a goat farm, a dairy farm and a farm for egg-laying hens. The group have released this kind of footage pretty much regularly since 2007, and the conditions at the farms never get any better, even though there have been discussions around the footage and animal welfare every time.

The industry gets subsidies from both the Finnish government and the European Union (i.e. from our tax money) to better their image. Not to advance the welfare of the animals, but to better the bad image that the industry has got thanks to the footage that has been released and because people have gotten more conscious about what they eat. I don’t understand the logic behind this, why give money to an industry so that they make a bigger gap between what is shown in their commercials and what is the truth? If we would like to give funds, then why don’t focus on advancing the welfare of the animals instead? Wouldn’t that be a better use for the money? Giving money to better the image so that people will continue to buy meat is not a solution to the problem, it’s a cover-up.

Oikeutta Eläimille has started a petition to make this kind of subsidies history. You can find the petition here. Please sign it if you care about animal welfare and think it’s wrong to give funding for covering up cruelty and bettering the image of an industry with so much problems. This is what the petition-site says, loosely translated into English:

“Petition: No subsidies for cruelty!

I the beginning of the year new shocking pictures from pig farms were released. At the same time the meat industry got 1,5 million euros in subsidies for advertisement of pork.

Factory farming causes suffering to animals and big environmental problems. No more subsidies from the society for advertisement of animal products!”

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

Vetoomus: Ei tukea kärsimykselle!

Alkuvuodesta julkisuuteen tuli uusia shokkikuvia sikaloista. Samaan aikaan lihateollisuus sai puolitoista miljoonaa euroa verorahoja sianlihan markkinointiin.

Eläintuotanto aiheuttaa kärsimystä eläimille ja suuria ympäristöongelmia. Ei enää yhteiskunnan tukea eläintuotteiden markkinointiin!

– See more at: http://oikeuttaelaimille.net/vetoomus-ei-tukea-karsimykselle#sthash.ZXvX6MID.dpuf

If you would like to see the new footage, it can be found at elaintehtaat.fi (the site is in Finnish, but you don’t really need any Finnish language skills to be able to find the footage). Viewer discretion is advised.

Finnish factory farming exposed, again

Last week new pictures and videos from Finnish factory farms were released by the animal rights organization Oikeutta Eläimille. This time the footage is taken at several different types of farms, including pigs, cows and chickens raised for different purposes. The footage was originally released during the 45 minuuttia (45 minutes) show in Finnish TV, where also animal activist spoke about why it is important to show what goes on behind the closed doors of the factory farms.

The footage can be found on the website eläintehtaat.fi (translates to “animal factories”). Videos are added to the site as soon after they have been filmed as possible.

On the site you can also watch the story of two piglet brothers (Pig Vision – The Journey of two Brothers), both born into the farm industry, but ending up living totally different lives. One of them is kept at the factory farm and end his life by being slaughtered at 7 months old. The other is rescued and brought to an animal sanctuary where he still lives today. Some of the footage in the video is horrifying – however, common practice within the industry – but the video also paints a picture of how the life of a pig could be if he or she would be allowed to be a pig instead of just a product. The video is originally made by the United Creations organization in Austria:

Cow’s milk is not the source of calcium

If someone would ask you where you get calcium from, you would most likely answer cow’s milk. We are told to drink cow’s milk to get our calcium, and it almost seems like there is no other source of this nutrient. That’s of course not true.

Calcium is a mineral that can be found in the ground. The cow’s natural feed is grass, so she gets the calcium through the grass and passes it on to her baby through her milk. In other words, calcium  is not derived from the cow’s milk itself but from the ground, which means that we don’t need to drink cow’s milk or eat other dairy products to get calcium, even though persistent advertisement from the dairy industry has led us to believe that. We might as well get the calcium straight from the source through plants.

Plants rich in calcium are for example:
Broccoli
Tofu
Garlic
Sesame seeds, almonds, brazil nuts
Green leafy vegetables such as turnip, kale, mustard,  collard greens, dandelion greens, spinach

If you’re on a plant-based diet, the amount of calcium that you need is also less than if you eat a lot of animal-based protein. This is because a diet based on a lot of animal protein will actually lead to that your body uses a lot of the calcium you take in. Animal protein is very acidic, and to balance this your body will withdraw calcium from you bones, so to keep you bones healthy you then have to consume higher amounts of calcium. Because of this, getting you calcium mainly from dairy products, as the recommendations today say, is quite contra productive, since the dairy products themselves are high in acidic animal protein.

So stop obsessing over drinking those glasses of milk every day and start getting your calcium from plants instead, folks!

I want a vegan world!

I re-listened to one of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcasts today. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably know by now that I admire Colleen greatly, she is a true inspiration for me to continue learning and writing about animals and veganism and to keep thinking compassionately.

Anyways, the podcast I listened to today is called “Turning the tables” and in the podcast she, among other things, talks about that many people believe vegans have an “agenda” to turn the whole world vegan. It reminded me of an article in the local newspaper some years ago, in 2009, in connection to a campaign by the animal activist organization Oikeutta Eläimille about ending fur farming. The article was about an own campaign the fur farming industry had started as an answer to the campaign by Oikeutta Eläimille, and it said something about that we (“the vegans” or “the activists”) start with a ban against fur and fur farming, then we want to go on to ban other types of animal farming for meat, dairy and eggs, etc.. The article was angled in a way that it seemed that this aim is something animal activists are hiding from the public, that we pretend to “only” want a ban against fur farming, but actually we want to ban all animal industry.

I was almost laughing when I read this article back then, and I still find it very ironic, because for me it has never been about any hidden agendas. I would love for the whole world to be vegan, free of animal industries, even though I don’t believe that a ban is the best way to get there. Ethical decisions like that need to come from people themselves, not from any higher authority, to be understood and have an actual point for both humans and animals. Anyway, while I was still in the local activist group we were never about hiding that we are vegans and that is what we are striving for more and more people to be. It has always been out there for people to see.

I think a vegan world would be great in so many ways, not only for the animals but also for the people and the environment. If we would show more compassion towards animals – all of the animals and not only pets, getting a more one-sided view of animals instead of the very confusing view we have now where some animals are friends and others food or products to be used – I believe it would come as a consequence that we would also be more compassionate towards one another. Veganism is not a perfect way of living or an end of something, it is one step on the way towards living as compassionately as possible, towards doing as little harm as possible.

Do we need veganism when there are ecologically raised animals?

A few days ago I ended up reading the comments of a random blog, through checking the reviews of a book. The comments (and the post) discussed the trustworthiness of the China Study, and some comments were made about vegans and veganism.

One person commented that there is no longer a need for the term “ethical veganism” because there are ecologically raised animals today. Other comments also mentioned “humane” meat and stated that if vegans really cared about ethics they would eat this and “stop complaining”.

These people have certainly not understood what ethical veganism is about (and possibly not either what the actual difference between ecologically and non-ecologically raised animals – mainly their feed, not so much the way they are treated), because the problem with animals raised for consumption does not go away because you change their feed or “treat them well”. They are still our slaves and they still suffer, because the situation and environment we put them in is not their natural one. Even if animals are raised ecologically, they are still kept in the same kind of places, their bodies are still abused, their children are still taken away from them and they are still not seen as the living beings they are but as ways to make money.

So yes, the term “ethical veganism” is very much needed. Possibly even more because of statements like the ones these people made, because a lot of people have a very wrong idea of how an animal is “treated well”. If you treat someone well it should be on this beings terms, not on yours. If it is on yours, the being is a slave. And being a slave is not to be treated well. It doesn’t matter if you are walking on two legs or four, if you have wings, fins or arms, it’s still wrong.

“An unnatural life span”

An-Unnatural-Life-Span

On Tuesday, Colleen from Compassionate Cook posted a blog post on the paradox of “humane” meat, dairy and eggs. The post included this picture that shows the differences between farmed animal’s life span today and their natural life span. Among other things, she wrote:

“The unappetizing process of turning living animals into butchered body parts begins at birth and ends in youth – whatever they’re raised for and however they’re raised. Relative to their natural life span, most of the animals are slaughtered when they’re still babies, as illustrated in the graphic above.

[…]

What does it say about us that when given the opportunity to prevent cruelty and violence, we choose to turn away—because of tradition, culture, habit, convenience, or pleasure? We are not finding the answers we are looking for because we are asking the wrong questions.

The movement toward “humanely raised food animals” simply assuages our guilt more than it actually reduces animal suffering. If we truly want our actions to reflect the compassion for animals we say we have, then the answer is very simple. We can stop eating them. How can this possibly be considered anything but a rational and merciful response to a violent and vacuous ritual?”