A few months back, I started working at a cafe called The Fields Beneath. On Mother’s Day 2017, they went fully vegan. The food has been vegan for a while, including croissants, burgers, wraps, hot dishes and the infamous ‘Smokey Keith’, but switching to plant-based milks was the final step. There has been a huge amount of love and support from the vegan community, especially online, and from many of our regulars. One couple even came down from Cambridge to visit us.
However, with dairy and meat being culturally embedded in our society, some customers have been harder to please. As a non-vegan myself (I am a ‘flexitarian’ yet am vegan when at the cafe), I can understand the fear of going outside your comfort zone when it comes to your daily cup of coffee. As many customers have remarked, it is not ‘normal’ milk. Our ‘normal’ is cow’s milk. To think of a food choice as ‘normal’ suggests that there is a mindset attached to this, linked perhaps to familiarity, status, taste or simply status quo. I am not writing this article to shame anyone for drinking cow’s milk, but to start thinking about why they believe cow’s milk is more normal than plant-based alternatives. In fact, perhaps we should abolish the terms ‘normal’ and ‘alternative’ and just frame all these delicious drinks as ‘milk’.
One of my favourite quotes is: life truly begins when your comfort zone ends. Try getting out of your dairy comfort zone, even for just one coffee or meal a week at first. I have made an infographic so that you can select your favourite milk according to environmental and nutritional facts. Of course, I know that food choices are not always dictated by statistics, so also just be curious, taste and enjoy the milks. It will be good for you, your conception of ‘normal’ in our food culture, and for the environment too.
P.S. My favourite is oat milk in a Flat White or almond milk in a hot chocolate. If you don’t know what to try, go for these!