I'm always looking for reasons why I continue to eat a plant based diet and it occurred to me last night that I didn't know the history of milk. I've done a little digging around and it appears that man started to consume the milk of animals back in the Neolithic times so around about 10,000 years ago but it seems that we are not entirely sure of when but the timeline is around about this era. Interestingly humans were lactose intolerant when we first drank other mammals milk but it was a drink it or die of starvation type of scenario. Not really surprising which choice our ancestors went with! My research suggests that sheep were the first animal that humans milked followed by cows (or aurochs as they were back then) and goats, and we all know that cow's milk is the most popular milk we take from animals.
Humans are the only mammal to continue to drink milk long after weaning and we are the only mammal to drink another species' milk. Humans lose the ability to tolerate milk once weaned due to a decreased production of the enzyme lactase with is required for the digestion of the milk sugar lactose. This explains, to me, why there are a lot of people recognising that they are lactose intolerant.
Milk, prior to pasteurisation, was pretty dangerous and due to the poor conditions cows were kept in and the low quality "swill" they were fed meant that their milk was often a bluish colour, too poor in quality to even make cheese. Some unscrupulous brewers added chalk, eggs, flour, water, molasses and other substances to mask this bluish colour.
In the 1800's French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur, helped prove that infectious diseases and food-borne illnesses were caused by germs, known as the "germ theory."
Pasteur's research demonstrated that harmful microbes in milk and wine caused sickness, and he invented a process - now called "pasteurisation" - whereby the liquids were rapidly heated and cooled to kill most of the organisms. Thus making milk much safer for humans to consume.
Whether all of these facts above are correct my personal belief is that it is not correct to drink the milk from another animal. Surely, the only milk a human should drink is the milk from another human and even then we become intolerant to it after weaning which suggests to me that we should not be drinking any type of dairy milk (all mammals produce dairy milk, I just wanted to be clear what I mean when I say dairy).
I was also under the impression that plant based milks were a relatively new phenomenon but I was wrong.
Almond milk appears to be early in making its appearance more than a 1000 years ago in Southern Europe. It has been around before this time in the Middle East, India and North Africa and a firm staple in local cuisines for centuries. In 2013, sales of almond milk even eclipsed soya milk in the USA!
Soya milk is environmentally friendly, for Europeans, when it is made from European soya beans and is usually non GM. The earliest mentions of soya milk are from 1365 in China. In 1945 an American food processing entrepreneur, Bob Rich, developed the idea of soya milk further and launched a Whipped Topping, made from the humble soybean. The dairy industry issued a lawsuit, more than once, accusing Rich of making an illegal imitation dairy product. Bob Rich's legal team argued that it wasn’t an imitation but a replacement – and they won the case!
Coconut milk has been around for centuries and in India for millennia. Coconut milk has the longest history of use and in a lot of countries, this milk is the preferred milk as people just wouldn't drink cow's milk.
Rice milk is relatively new but Vita Rice set up a factory in the USA in 1921. This would suggest that it had been used prior to 1921 and that it was popular enough for a factory to be set up.
Oat milk, my preferred choice, is very young in age and was developed by Rickard Öste, a food scientist at Lund University. His research on lactose intolerance and sustainable food systems led him to develop oat milk. Öste founded Oatly back in 1994, but for years the product languished. “Nobody wanted it,” Petersson said. Well, I want it now, it is gorgeous and compliments coffee fantastically well.
The new kid on the block was launched in the autumn of 2018, made in Sweden and called Sproud, it is a pea based milk. It is lactose, gluten and soy free and also low in fat and sugar. Peas help maintain a healthy and low cholesterol levels and help stabilise blood sugar levels. We love Sproud at Moriarty's as it is as white as dairy milk and tastes very similar yet more healthy for us humans than dairy milk.
All of the above are what I believe and the conclusions I have come to after finding information from different sources. However, I understand that some people are passionate about wanting to have dairy milk in their lives and whilst it is not something I agree with I hope that my choices are accepted graciously and without causing an argument.
I am passionate that each and every one of us can learn and reach our own conclusions and if that means you disagree with me, I will still be your friend.
Take care everyone and remember to start each day with a grateful heart!