The Sweet Meadow

Something has been pissing me off lately.

drinksAishe Besim
I became a vegan the day I watched a video of a calf being born on a factory farm. The baby was dragged away from the mother before he hit the ground. The helpless calf strained its head backwards to find his mother. The mother bolted after her son and exploded into a rage when the rancher slammed the gate on her. She wailed the saddest noise I’d ever head an animal make, and then thrashed and...dug into the ground, burying her face in the muddy placenta. I had no idea what was happening respecting brain chemistry, animal instinct, or whatever. I just knew that this was deeply wrong. I just knew that such suffering could never be worth the taste of milk and veal. I empathised with the cow and the calf and, in so doing, my life changed.
— James McWilliams

I should start with the positives first though. I have been so overwhelmed with the number of people who have visited The Sweet Meadow since we opened the cafe on October 20. I was having nightmares no one would show up, so to see lots of familiar faces 8 weeks in (some have been coming in since the first day we opened), makes me super happy.

What I've found interesting is that while most people are open to the idea of having a breakfast or lunch meal without any meat, cheese or eggs, convincing them to try a coffee without dairy milk is a much harder sell, even when we offer the best (and most expensive) soy milk as our base milk alternative at no extra cost. 

I was told that people would walk out when they find out they can't have dairy milk with their coffee and they're right - some people do walk out. Despite this, I have no plans to start serving dairy milk with coffee. We are a plant-based HEALTH bar. Dairy milk is NOT a HEALTH food. It's extremely acidic for our bodies and no wonder, it's designed to feed baby calves, not adult humans! 

I've been reading and listening to Dr. Michael Klaper lately, who grew up on a dairy farm and began milking cows when he was 8 years old. He calls dairy milk "...baby calf growth fluid. Everything in that white liquid - the hormones, the lipids, the proteins, the sodium...are all there to start that calf growing into a great big cow....It's great stuff if you are a baby calf, but if you are a human trying to create a lean, healthy body, it will NOT do a body good."

Nutritionist Kimberly Synder also raises some good points here

I laugh to myself when people ask me why we don't have any "normal" milk available. It seems so abnormal to me that people drink milk from another species. The human body has no more need for cow's milk than it does for dog's milk, horse's milk or giraffe's milk. 

I also find it funny when people question where we vegans get our calcium from. I tell them it's the same place the cow gets their calcium from (because of course, grown cows don't drink their own milk) - plants! Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, along with almonds, soy-based products and fruit (figs, dates, blackberries) are all high in calcium, and are digested better by the human body too.

What I also find interesting is that so many people actually enjoy their soy-based coffee drink. Not just tolerate it, but enjoy it. A few customers have even said that if we hadn't told them it wasn't dairy milk they wouldn't even have known.

In one of my videos I talk about there being "something for everyone" at The Sweet Meadow. These last few weeks of trade have made me realise that I don't believe this anymore. If people want eggs and bacon for breakfast, there's nothing we can offer that will satisfy this craving. If people refuse to try a plant-based milk alternative with their coffee drink, then we will refuse to serve them. 

While there are a few vegetarian/wholefood cafes scattered across regional Victoria, we are the only vegan cafe outside of Melbourne or Geelong. For a community of around 15,000 people, that is huge! A big thank you to the majority of you who are open-minded and interested in learning more about plant-based eating.

Think before you drink.