Living in Paris, I spend much of my time avoiding two things. Dog mess and cheese. The dog mess is just an attitude problem. I mean who wants to clean up crap right? Picture the polite English lady scooping up her dog’s poop, wobbling slightly on her thick heels as she bends down in her tweed skirt and barber jacket. Can you really see a Parisian lady doing this in her stilettos and Louis Vuitton? Of course I exaggerate, I have seen one such lady in Paris cleaning up after her pooch but they are few and far between. Anyway back to the Cheese. I love cheese but I know it is bad for me. Of all the things in the world I wish Cheese was OK to eat in vast quantities. Maybe they should invent Camembert flavoured carrots or Brie flavoured broccoli. Anyway, the other day we went to lunch with friends and the chef had stopped cooking the normal menu so our friends ordered several platters of cheese and meat with bread. The next day I felt awful (red wine probably didn’t help) but my stomach was not happy at all and I wonder if it was the excessive amounts of cheese I had consumed. Why is cheese so bad? Well it’s not just cheese, it’s the whole dairy…

What do baby cows drink? Cows milk. What do baby goats drink? Goats milk. And what do human babies drink? Human milk. The whole point of weaning is to stop drinking milk because we can get the nutrients from solid foods. Cows and goats stop drinking milk but we are the only mammals who carry on drinking it – and the only mammals who drink another species’ milk. Plus we have only been drinking animal milk relatively recently in the evolution of mankind so what on earth did we survive on before? When I was young I was told to drink my milk to get calcium to make my bones strong, but no one told me I could get my calcium intake from leafy greens like broccoli, kale or Bok Choy, or sesame seeds, nuts or cereals.

So why is dairy seen as so bad in the macrobiotic world?  First and foremost it has to be because of the animal fat and the inevitable affect on our cholesterol. But there was also an issue in the USA over the last decade, as one of the ways of increasing milk production in cows is through a synthetic hormone called recombinant bovine growth hormone (rGBH). This works to make the cow produce lots of milk, but when the cow produces too much milk (more than nature intended) its glands swell and then it needs antibiotics to help it out. All this messing about with milk leaves traces of hormones and antibiotics in the end product but luckily it was banned in Europe and Canada and even in the US today large grocery stores avoid milk made with this process. So while I am pretty disgusted with the whole idea of forcing cows to produce more milk than is comfortable for them, I’m not too worried about this over here in Paris.

What I am worried about is of course dairy is high in fat and therefore contributes to high cholesterol and heart disease. Everyone knows this and most people who do know this will keep an eye on the amount they eat, but I think if you look at your diet you would be surprised how much dairy creeps in. Milk on your cereal, butter on toast, cheese in your lunch – in your sandwich, on your jacket potato, sprinkled on your soup. Then a yogurt or an icecream, cups of tea, a piece of chocolate. So in the end you have a body full of animal fat which you find hard to process and which clogs up your arteries. I wonder how I would feel if I cut out dairy for a bit. I would certainly lose weight, but apart from that how would my body feel? If you don’t have the enzymes to break down the milk sugar lactose, your body will be trying to tell you through flatulence, diarrhea and stomach problems, skin problems and breathing problems (from all the mucus). This is known as lactose intolerance (something I have always assumed was a fussy fad – everyone seems to have a food intolerance but maybe we should think about why when 10 per cent of Europeans are lactose intolerant). I think it will be hard to do in Paris but here’s the plan:

Soya milk, Almond milk, Rice milk – to be honest I would rather not drink tea if I have to have these, but I don’t mind rice milk on cereals. Tofu instead of cheese. Yep I saw some sort of recipe (along with one for mayonnaise too) and it looks simple enough and I need to give it a go. I can’t believe it will taste anything like cheese but it’s worth a try. And then just to make sure I am balanced I’ll have all the usual grains, brown rice and leafy greens.

My fiance looked a bit miffed when I suggested this idea, but we will give it a go here at Tofu Towers.

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