Dairy is mucous forming; it slows the lymph, the very system which needs to be free and fast flowing in order to efficiently remove toxins from our cells. It also creates inflammation and acidity, the pre-cursers of disease. To balance this, our bones will leach calcium to alkalinise the blood. Yep, dairy can contribute to osteoporosis! And after the age of 7, most of us can no longer digest lactose, the sugar present in dairy, because we have evolved to be weaned by then. Persistent dairy ingestion therefore puts enormous pressure on the digestive system.
'The China Study' by Colin Campbell is a fantastic book, which talks in detail about the link between animal derived protein, particularly dairy, and cancer growth. Jane Plant also talks about this in her book 'Your Life in Your Hands'. She made the connection between the low incidence of breast cancer in China (1 in 10,000) and low dairy consumption. Scientific research showed that when Chinese or Japanese women move to the West, within one or two generations their rates of breast cancer approach those of their host community (closer to 1 in 10).
The idea of giving up dairy can seem challenging, particularly as we have been programmed to believe that it's our ideal source of calcium. The truth is that there are other, great sources. Kale, broccoli, almonds and black strap molasses all contain high levels of absorbable calcium.
There are delicious, health-GIVING dairy alternatives out there. At the moment I'm making fresh coconut yoghurt and kefir, which are a great way to repopulate gut flora. Coconut oil tastes great as a butter replacement when cooking and baking (although after a year of being a vegan, I now eat a little unsalted, organic butter). Nut and coconut milk is full of protein and calcium and is so easy to make. Simply soak nuts (almonds are great) overnight (coconut flakes can be soaked in warm water for just 20 minutes), whizz in a high speed blender with fresh water and strain through a nut milk bag or muslin. Cheeses are harder to replace, but cashew cheese is delicious. To make, soak cashews overnight, empty a probiotic capsule and whizz up in a blender. Leave in a warm, dark place for 12 or so hours. You can flavour with herbs, or pepper.