Withholding food from bobby calves

January 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) (, )

Yes, another dairy post. It’s been long overdue. If anyone is interested – I finished October without any further dairy incidents. I’ve largely stuck with being dairy-free since. I was on holiday in New Zealand for a few weeks and relaxed my expectations of myself, which was just as well because at times there was no way to entirely avoid it (I’m looking at you Interislander Ferry).

I would like to take this opportunity to give a particular shout-out to Fidel’s in Wellington – not only are they the perfect place for second breakfast, but they were the only place in New Zealand to be pro-active in their catering to dietary needs. I mean, they have a flexible menu and some yummy home-baked vegan goodies like all good cafes should, but when ordering their cooked breakfast with no butter on the toast and a soy coffee the staff actually clarified that I was after a dairy-free meal, advised that the sausage in the breakfast has cheese in it, and substituted it for one that didn’t. Bravo!

Anyway, it’s now a new year and the news hitting nerves and angering animal welfare supporters is that Dairy Australia is looking to adopt the standard that:

bobby calves must “be slaughtered or fed within 30 hours from last feed.”

This is the result of study conducted by the University of Melbourne and the Animal Welfare Science Centre (funded by Dairy Australia and the government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) that ‘measured a range of blood biochemical variables in the calves, and the authors concluded that food withdrawal for up to 30 hours and transport for up to 12 hours had no detrimental effects on the metabolism of healthy calves.’

Animals Australia says that Dairy Australia is legalising the ‘withholding of liquid food from these unwanted calves for the last 30 hours of their lives’. Dairy Australia says that the clause ‘will provide assurances … where currently there is no standard in place to ensure a maximum time off feed for bobby calves.’

As I read it, if/when the clause is added to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport – bobby calves will legally be starved 30 hours prior to their untimely demise, which could well be a better deal than they are currently getting. That is how atrocious the dairy industry is – that this apparently repulsive standard might be an improvement.

If you’d like to protest the proposed new standard (perhaps propose that a higher standard is needed?), you can do so here.

If you’d like to read Dairy Australia’s side of the story, you can do so here. Be warned, it includes rather scary phrases like ‘The Australian dairy industry works across the supply chain to ensure that calves … are not thrown or dropped or struck in an unreasonable manner’ (my emphasis).

If you know why the practice of withholding food from bobby calves is in place, please let me know.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with P!nk’s latest dig at the dairy industry (among other things):

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A Lesson in Failure

October 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) ()

I have failed.

I crashed my way into this dairy-free diet with possibly unwarranted zeal – adamant in my moral superiority, and trusting from my stubbornness and my previous successes in abstinence that this too wouldn’t be that hard once I got used to it. Pride, etc.

Since cocoa powder, and even Cottee’s ‘thick and rich’ chocolate topping is vegan, I assumed that soy hot chocolate would be safe, dairy-free territory. I mentally reinforced this notion with my “home-made” hot chocolates (using dairy-free Cadbury Drinking Chocolate powder and soy milk). I didn’t even think to check when ordering a hot chocolate at a cafe until a friend queried me today. I have had two store-bought soy hot chocolates this month, and I now know that at least one of them was definitely not dairy-free.

So, in spite of all my efforts and good intentions I have been unable to make it one month completely clear of dairy. I’m still going to continue with the trial. And while my failure may be an important lesson in humility, I think it’s also important to recognise that removing any ingredient from your diet is hard. It takes effort, research, constant will, and constant vigilance. Some days, like today, I don’t know how vegans manage. This trial has certainly increased my respect for lifestyle choices of that variety.

I’m curious as to how those that have chosen to eliminate one or more ingredients from their diet cope with a “failure”. Or even with fear of failure. I have found myself getting nervous in restaurants – did I ask all the right questions about the ingredients? Did they definitely hear me correctly? Will I realise if they make a mistake?

This nervousness was not helped by a recent confusing interaction at the otherwise-delightful Le Triskel. I had enquired about dairy-free options upon entering and was assured that the crepes could be made with soy milk (for a $2 surcharge). Our waitress, however, had less of an understanding of English (and I have no understanding of French), resulting in a stalemate where I desperately stared at the menu, not knowing what to say, and she wasn’t sure if I was asking for soy milk to be poured over the top of my dairy-crepe, or a soy latte. We eventually solved the problem with the help of the word ‘vegan’ printed on their menu.

Any tips? Personally, I’ll just be watching this episode of Daria on loop.

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I was promised tea!

October 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) (, )

There may have been some whimpering in the tea room today. A plate of leftover catering was sitting on the table – free to all staff in need of sustenance. I was most definitely in need of sustenance. And every single one of those roast beef baguettes, ham rolls, and Mediterranean vegetable pides was brimming with gooey melted cheese or laced with buttery spreads. Sigh.

Work seems to have been the most difficult location for being dairy-free, and not just because of temptations like leftover catering. The general stress (quarterly reporting!) makes me more vulnerable to cravings; yes, whimpering; and affront. On Friday I endured two entirely separate conversations with colleagues that included the handy phrase “As the son of a dairy farmer…”.

I have decided that diets can best be compared to religion – interesting when used as a point of intelligent discussion, rude when used as a way of passing judgment. Great to talk about amongst a community of like-minded people, possibly best kept quiet otherwise. (I’m not sure if these posts are hypocritical, or a reasonable exception under the soap-box clause.) In my offline life I’ve only been communicating the change to people that I dine with, because I feel like they should know why I’m ordering “the bacon sandwich with no cheese, no butter and no… no something else as well”. *

Aside from these incidents it has actually been going well. I’ve discovered that a few of my friends are lactose-intolerant, and dab hands at a rocket, spinach, pear, walnut and cranberry salad. I’ve been assured that the Oreo Cream Pie is well worth making. My daily soy hot chocolate is entirely palatable, if less rich than my old “Choc o’lait”. Porridge made with oat milk is just as delicious as when made with dairy milk. And Arnott’s Raspberry Shortcake biscuits, the closest thing we have to Jammie Dodgers, are vegan. Hurrah!

*actual dialogue from a waitress on Sunday, served with a side of scorn.

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Cheese, cheese, wherefore art thou cheese?

September 29, 2010 at 11:00 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) (, )

I’m having a difficult time finding decent (non)cheese. The word on the internet is all about Cheezly for that melty non-dairy goodness, but locating this UK product in Australia is proving to be a challenge.

You can buy Cheezly online from the Melbourne-based Vegan Perfection, or the Sydney-based Cruelty Free Shop, but the idea of having a cheese sit on my doorstep all day, especially in the impending warm weather, is not very appealing whether it’s shipped with a cold-pack or not.

After reading through a lot of vegan forum posts from 2007 about stores that no longer exist, I tried Belgrave Organics. While they don’t currently stock Cheezly they were very helpful and have offered to try and order some in. I’ll be calling them back in 10 days to see if that’s been successful.

Researching dairy free diets has also been more complicated than I would have liked. Coming into it as an omni and not (at this point in my life) transitioning to a vegan diet, I feel disconnected from both. While I might have most in common with the lactose-intolerant, their motivations are entirely different and they have a few lactose-free dairy-laden goodies at their disposal. Although I have more ingredient options than vegans, I have been impressed by their strong communities and wealth of recipes.

The honour roll of sites that have guided, inspired, and impressed me over the last few days are:

Lisa Dempster‘s invaluable series of posts on How to be vegan.

Miss T: Princess Vegan – especially this post, which tests out the vegan Apple, Onion & Cheddar Pizza (from a site that is a delight in its own right – how can you not love a blog with the tagline Recipes that will make you scream with unbridled pleasure?)

– Post Punk Kitchen: vegan cookies. (It’s impossible to feel gloomy about a diet without dairy looking at those pictures and recipes.)

Dairy Free Cooking. If I can get my hands on some Tofutti this weekend, I hope to be able to make the Oreo Cream Pie for morning tea at work.

I’ll also have to visit Vege2go for some take-away nom! Check out that vegan dessert list (with apologies to non-Melbournians)! Tiramisù! Chocolate Mousse! Chocolate raspberry cake! Crumble!

Not long ’til October now. Tonight I had what may be my last at-home dairy dinner, glorified in many shades of yellow…

L-R: scrambled eggs made with milk and butter, topped with parsley and cheddar cheese; King Island Dairy double brie; Tasmanian Heritage blue brie.

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Diary of A Dairy Addict

September 25, 2010 at 1:05 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) ()

I had the most traumatic shopping trip of my life yesterday.

You see, a few weeks ago I discovered my belief that dairy cows naturally produce milk all the time, because that’s what dairy cows are, is entirely naïve and incorrect. (And I’ve lived next to a dairy farm!) My discovery of how the dairy industry really works has upset me to the point that I’m contemplating giving up dairy. And I love dairy. I love dairy with a wild joy and reckless abandon.*  I even own a gorgeous brooch that proclaims ‘Just add cheese’. So I’m easing myself into this “dairy free” concept with a 31 day trial – for the month of October, I’m attempting to eat a diet entirely devoid of dairy. If I find this to be reasonably anguish-free, then I intend to evolve into a dairy-avoidant lifestyle.**  If not, well, I guess my conscience and my taste-buds will have to come to some sort of an agreement.

Thus, with heavy-heart, I began the last dairy-laden shopping trip. I nearly cried on the way to the supermarket when I realised I might never eat peppermint ice-cream again. I actually cried when I found myself overwhelmed with choice in the not-milk aisle – soy! Oat! Rice! Tricksy lactose-free, which is not dairy free! Regular! Lite! Extra creamy! Extra vitamins! Extra fibre! Extra calcium! (I eventually settled on the Vitasoy regular soy milk and the Vitasoy oat milk. I have since been (lovingly) chided for not selecting Bonsoy.)

I returned home with some old favourites to bid farewell to:

…and some new additions to get used to:

I am, quite frankly, rather scared. Especially by the soycheese. Over the next few dairy days I’ll be doing some serious googling to find out where and what the best dairy-free cheeses are. With those, some sorbet, some dark chocolate, and some Oreos… it just might be easy.

Any tips and recommendations greatly appreciated.

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*Except for milk. Flavoured or used in other things, fine, but the taste of pure milk itself has never appealed to me.
**I might be naïve about some things, but not about the chances of me occasionally crumbling at the sight of camembert, and if someone unknowingly gifts me dairy-laden baked goods I’m not going to throw them back in their face or in the bin.

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