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On breastfeeding and dairy products

January 20th, 2017

Guest blogger FLIP GRATER is a singer-songwriter from Christchurch with many albums to her credit. She is also a published author of  vegetarian travel cookbooks and an avid foodie. Her harrowing song  ‘Where’s the Door’ featured in two of SAFE’s television ads to help  caged pigs and hens. The SAFE ambassador who is now a mother to
one  year old daughter Anais, said pregnancy and motherhood raised her  compassion levels off the chart. Flip shares with us her latest blog on  breastfeeding and dairy.

I had a really hard time breastfeeding my daughter. It hurt like hell  for weeks, then just a little for months and months. On top of that, I  suffered from a little-talked-about condition where  my hormonal response to milk let down was backwards. This caused a wave  of sadness to come over me every time I fed my baby – a massive downer  when you’re feeding all day and night! But as the months passed I almost  started not hating it. By 10 months I almost even enjoyed it.

Now, my daughter is one-year-old – the point where I was sure I would  stop breastfeeding – and I’ve actually started to savour our feeds. She  feeds far less and can happily skip a feed or take a bottle of  plant-milk. I am officially released from my ‘breastfeeding prison’. And  I can finally say that I understand why people are ‘into’  breastfeeding.

Along with that understanding, comes an increased bafflement as to  how any lactating human woman on Earth possibly drink milk from a cow?

Boom. There it is. Cow milk lovers will no doubt click elsewhere at  this point but I hope you don’t, as I don’t intend to attack. I am  simply baffled. When one understands the hormones, the relationship, the  science and the spirit of breastfeeding one’s child, how do you  willingly deprive another mother and child of that experience? Just to  sate a desire for cheese.

I want to mention at this point that this is not about breastfeeding  vs formula. If there were decent plant-milk formulas available in NZ I  ABSOLUTELY would have stopped breastfeeding prior to now. And I honestly  have not an ounce of ‘see, I hung in there and it got easier’ smugness.  Only ‘thankfully this isn’t awful anymore’ relief. This conversation is  purely about seeing your own body create milk. Then downing a big ol’  glass of breast milk from another species.

I understand the cognitive dissonance people use daily to consume  meat, buy cheap clothes or throw plastic bags into landfill. But when  you’re a mother, particularly when breastfeeding, how do you disconnect  from the reality of what cow milk is? Who it is really intended for?

I would go so far as to say that the consumption of dairy products is  entirely anti-motherhood. The dairy industry exploits and destroys the  mother-child biological bond. And after personally experiencing  pregnancy and breastfeeding, I can honestly say that being kept  pregnant, having my babies taken from me, and being hooked up to a milk  pump every day is literally my idea of the worst kind of hell.

Mothers Against Dairy expresses it well: “At its core, animal agriculture is based on sexual  violation, reproductive subjugation and exploitation, and on the  objectification and violent domination of vulnerable bodies. It is also  based on the destruction of animal families.”

After almost 20 years of veganism, I have become exhausted and mostly  private in my activism. I tend to promote vegan food and ‘set a good  example’ these days. Outrage, anger, aggression and debates can feel  futile and even counter-productive. But this is one topic I have to  discuss. It feels personal. It literally makes me feel sick in the  stomach and heart.

So I’m asking the question: as women in the world, as people who can  understand clearly what the modern dairy industry is and does, isn’t it  our responsibility to bring attention to this topic? Is it not up to us –  as the carers, as empathetic humans, as the lactating sex, and as the  main shoppers in most households, to do everything we can personally do  to stop this unnecessary cruelty? Even if that is through the very  simple personal action of choosing plant milk at the supermarket.

There are plenty of dairy-free products out there. Try some of the recipes online or order a free copy of the SAFE Go Veg guide for tips.

 

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