I should have known better. He could have died. Was it worth the risk?
What does this have to do with the OneGreenSmoothie movement? Let me explain…
Last Sunday evening, we were winding down a pleasant weekend when I offered my youngest son his new favorite “bowl” – yogurt topped with cinnamon, fruit, and oatmeal.
It’s complicated trying to feed this primarily plant-based, allergic, and picky eater so I was relieved to have stumbled upon this easy and nutritious meal for him during a recent heat wave we’d had.
Vegan “dairy” products have improved exponentially over the past few years, primarily those that are nut and hemp-based because they are so rich, creamy and frankly, delicious! I buy several varieties of these for everyone in our family except for Mattias, who is severely allergic to nuts and hemp; he gets soy- and coconut-based dairy.
Moments after I’d served Mattias his bowl, I hear footsteps running into the kitchen, and his trembling voice scratch out, “Mom, my throat hurts.” Bam! Everything stops.
His lips are already swollen and tears have pooled into his frightened eyes. He knows what’s coming. We rush to the cupboard to find the Benadryl, and I give him two tiny pink pills.
Minutes pass. No relief.
Oh no, I think to myself. This is it. I’m going to have to inject him with the EpiPen—a chilling prospect for both of us. I’d have to jab the thick needle through his pants, into his thigh muscle, and hold it firmly in place while the epinephrine flows through his veins ultimately reaching his heart, making it race wildly. It also would mean a trip to the Emergency Room and a long, late night.
I hesitate. Instead, I give him two more pink pills and pray. He brushes his teeth and takes a shower trying to cleanse away the offending allergen—cashew milk yogurt. He has hives. He crawls into bed, and we do deep breathing exercises to relax his body.
I track the amount of time passing. I cannot delay much longer. Finally, the swelling of his throat starts to ease. His breathing stabilizes. We continue the deep breathing, for my sake as much as his. Inside, I am afraid he’ll have a secondary reaction once the medicine wears off, but he refuses to sleep in my bed so I that I can keep watch over him during the night.
I am furious with myself! How could I, of all people, make such a dangerous mistake? Then they hit me in rapid-fire succession:
this is too hard; risky. it’s not worth it. it would be so much easier if I would just give him normal yogurt. i would make sure it’s organic, free range, humane, whatever it takes. he could use the calories. yes, it’s inflammatory, but at least it’s safe. I wouldn’t have to think, triple check labels, plan ahead…
Why do I make things so much more difficult for myself and my family by seeking out plant-based milk, cheese, and yogurt? It would certainly be easier, perhaps even “safer” in our case, to stock our fridge with animal-based dairy products.
Here is what I’ve come up with:
When we first started this journey, it was all about our own personal health. I’m a health nut and actively seek out the latest research on nutrition. When I discovered that animal milk is known to be the root cause of all sorts of ailments from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, cancer, etc., we became dairy free at home (click this link for a myriad of videos on this topic).
If you’ve read the Our Story page on this blog, you know that the documentary Cowspiracy completely rocked our world and inspired not only the creation of the OneGreenSmoothie movement, but gave us a greater sense of urgency and commitment to plant-based eating for the health of the planet.
Caring for our environment and personal health continue to be the driving forces behind our decisions and actions, but something unexpected has happened in the last year or so that has caused us greater consternation.
We’ve become more aware of the ethical dilemma of eating animals and their secretions. I’m not sure why this never factored into our consciousness before, other than ignorance or denial. But we’ve since come to appreciate that animals are sentient beings capable of bonding with humans, and feeling love, fear, stress, and pain.
Truth be told, even my kids, who were the ones pushing us to not eat animals, hadn’t made the connection with milk. Perhaps it was my motherly instincts that grew my empathy for the mother cow who’s breast milk was being taken and used to make dairy products to feed us. Although they now see that just as we love our dog, we wouldn’t drink his mother’s milk or even make yogurt or cheese with it (so why would we with that from goats or cows?), they still sometimes grumble at my efforts on dairy. Which just adds a layer of guilt to my dilemma…
A New Day
The next morning Mattias wakes with swollen eyes like he’d been in a fight; his throat is still tight. My guilt returns. The thought returns, “normal” yogurt would be so much easier!
Easier for me and my child? Yes! (and more convenient and less expensive, too!)
Easier for the mother cow and her calf? No.
Easier on our planet? No.
I vow to be more vigilant. I vow to keep taking one step at a time trying to figure out this whole plant-based way of eating, way of living. I begin anew and share this with you.