Reclaiming the name.

What’s in a name?

Well quite a lot actually. When it comes to what we call things, there can be a world of nuance. And if we think about all the different names we have for milk, the extent of our unnatural dependence on animal products becomes glaringly obvious.

Think about it for a minute. We have ‘soya’ milk, ‘rice’ milk and ‘almond’ milk. We feed our babies ‘breast’ milk. Yet when it comes to ‘cow’s’ milk we simply call it milk. No prefix required.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve received a ‘look’ while breastfeeding one of the boys in public (just to add that I’m talking about when they were still babies, I’m not breastfeeding a teenager. I also didn’t have my nipple hanging out or a particularly grotty bra), yet grannies coo over babies being fed cow’s milk formula from a bottle. What’s wrong with this picture? As a society we have come so far from what is natural and what is healthy that we are judged negatively for doing the very thing nature designed for us to do!

I wonder what looks I would receive if I were to milk a dog and feed that to my children or pour it over my cornflakes. Or if I were to lift my baby up and let him suckle directly from the cow? (I bet you spit out your tea while you pictured that image!) So why is it so acceptable to drink the milk that cows produce for their own offspring when it’s just a small step away from the cow and put into a carton. Is it because we are so used to calling cows milk just ‘milk’, we can no longer even really acknowledge the connection between what we are drinking and where it came from?

So I reckon it’s time to reclaim the name for the cows. Next time you mention the word ‘milk’, make sure you qualify it properly. If it’s milk from a cow, then say so. The more we start giving the white stuff its proper name, the more we encourage people to make that connection and to hopefully realise that it makes no more sense for us to drink cow’s milk than it does dog’s milk, cat’s milk or rabbit’s milk.

As far as I’m concerned the only product that deserves the name of ‘milk’, pure and simple, is the milk I make for my babies.

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6 responses to “Reclaiming the name.

  1. scottishvegan

    nice article 🙂

  2. Thank you! I know you’re probably not guilty of missing the prefix!

  3. I do just tend to refer to soy milk as ‘milk’, until I get to a stage of life that necessitates lactation of my own it is the only sort of milk in the house, so doesn’t need a prefix. It does however confuse non-vegans who haven’t quite got to know me, and gave one particularly self-righteous vegan former colleague the chance to berate me in public because she pretended not to know what I meant. (something like ‘I wanted to drink some milk because I’d been sick’, in the context of then finding that my cartons of chocolate alpro had gone off, having already laid the groundwork by refering to alpro) On the other hand, the fact that my non-vegan significant other accepts not having cows’ milk for cereal is quite a major step…

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I confuse non vegans regularly when I say that I fancy some ice cream or cookies – of course I mean ‘soya’ ice cream or vegan cookies but they think I’ve turned back to my omnivorous ways. Thankfully not! And their confusion gives me the chance to point out that so many vegan alternatives exist.

  4. Northants Jane

    Keep confusing people with your words. It makes them think, and then what is unusual will eventually become excepted

  5. We always refer to it as ‘cows milk’ in our house and it makes me cringe when I hear people refer to it as ‘normal milk’. Yes it is normal – for the baby cow.

    Like you, I often say ice cream, sausages, cheese…………of course its going to be vegan! It does make me laugh though when I give my son something (he’s 3) and he checks if its vegan (even sometimes when we are in our own house!). I think he just gets used to asking people when he’s not with me.

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