Deeside cycleway and vegan chocolate

One of our favourite things to do is to cycle out to Newton Dee on the Deeside cycleway. It’s about 5 miles along an old train line and at Newton Dee there’s a nice cafe and grocery store.

It was a lovely ride on the shortest day of the year which is today but it was a sunny day. We cycled back at about 4pm and although the sun had already gone down it was still light and the colours were very pretty.

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I know I always put photos of myself on my blog and psychologists would probably say this means I lack confidence or have mental health issues or something like that so I thought I’d post a crazy photo instead just to prove that I’m really sane. Seriously. I am perfectly normal 😉

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Now that I’ve got that out the way here’s the normal one:

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I particularly like the grocery store at Newton Dee because they have interesting things including lots of vegan foods. My absolute favourite is the vegan chocolate. Sometimes I’ll cycle out there just to buy it. On Saturday I bought 9 bars of the stuff and immediately ate two bars then and there. The only thing I find hard is having to share them with my family.

We cycled out again today and I’d have bought another 9 bars only there was only one left in the shop. This is the chocolate:

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I have discovered I can buy this chocolate in boxes of 50 online but I’ve decided it would be a very bad idea for me to do this and have so far managed to restrain myself.

The chocolate is made with almond milk instead of cow’s milk. In some ways I think eating some animals – game for instance – is better ethically than consuming dairy products when it is intensively farmed. Cows are forced to produce a calf every 18 months or so and then we take their babies away from them in the first week after birth, sometimes the first day. The calves are a byproduct. The worst thing you can do to a mother is take her baby away from her and that’s what we do to cows.

Animals Australia have produced this good video about where diary products come from:

Here’s one from New Zealand [WARNING: this video may distress some viewers]:

Almond milk chocolate FTW!

16 Comments

  1. I’ve not tried vegan chocolate but we’ve used almond and coconut milk in a lot of dishes sine the vet introduced them here last year. Except tea and coffee. Just a bridge too far for my aged raddled palette. And I suppose if you’d just been freed from inside Busby (which the photo suggests) that might explain the manic episode. Have a grand Christmas en familie Rachel

    1. Is the vet a vegan or allergic to dairy or …? Almond and coconut milk are both great alternatives to dairy in cooking. I also use ground up cashews a lot when I want a creamy sauce without cream.

      You have a fantastic Christmas too!

  2. When I saw the first photo, I thought you were definitely crazy. But the second one assured me that you might just be sane or half normal. By the way, when you say ‘we’ cycled, is that you and Busby or you, Busby and the kids?

    I couldn’t bear to watch the videos. Have seen enough of the dairy industry’s awful stories. That’s why I converted from vegetarianism to being a vegan.

    I see you’re wearing your new op shop dress. Very nice! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you could see from the second photo that I’m completely normal 🙂

      The “we” is Ben, Daniel, Elizabeth, Busby, and me. The kids are on holidays and Ben worked from home yesterday and I work from home everyday. By 2pm we all felt we needed a break and some fresh air so we went for a bike ride.

  3. Where to begin?

    I’m mostly vegan but after watching this video I have decided to cut all milk and cheese from my diet. Thanks for reminding us the this atrocity.

    I actually like the picture of the crazy lady. Her temperament matches her skirt/dress. You have a fun and provocative way of dressing 🙂

    1. Thank you!

      Well done for cutting out the milk and cheese. I’m sure there are some dairy farms that do the right thing by their animals – organic farms for instance might be better – but our farming systems have become more like factories now and the small farms that want to do the right thing can’t compete with large-scale production that puts revenue above animal welfare. We in the developed world don’t need milk beyond infancy anyway.

  4. I don’t want to begrudge anyone a bit of chocolate, especially at this time of year, and I totally respect your viewpoint and your choice to be a vegan. However, I want to put another perspective on the question of cow’s milk versus almond milk. Because I question whether almond milk can be regarded as a guilt free alternative to cow’s milk. Almonds are produced in orchards. In California for example, these orchards spread for kilometre after kilometre, monocultures that are no good to any other species. Even the bees that are needed to pollinate the almond blossoms so they produce the nuts, cannot stay there for more than a week or two, as once the blossoms have gone there is no food for them. So beehives are trucked in from all over the USA, to the detriment of the bees while they are on the trucks, and also providing a wonderful opportunity for the spread of bee disease. And what about the fuel used to truck the bees so far? Not to mention the herbicides, insecticides, water and fuel needed to maintain the trees. And then there is the added process of converting the almonds into milk. Surely it makes more sense for us to eat the almonds themselves, rather than to go through the wasteful process of converting them into something else. Is almond milk any less harmful to the environment, or less cruel to animals than cow’s milk? I just don’t know.

    Yes, the practice of removing calves from cows for dairying purpose doesn’t seem particularly kind. But the whole process of eating to live is not kind – no matter what kind of diet you follow. Nature is not kind, and we are part of nature. The videos showing the maltreatment of calves are extreme cases – despicable without question, but not all farmers act that way. I remember seeing a video, advocating the boycott of wool garments because sheep are mistreated during shearing, but I know from experience that shearing doesn’t have to hurt the animal, and many shearers are very respectful of the animals they are shearing, and take care not to harm them. I’m sure the same applies to dairy farmers. I don’t like the idea of removing calves from their mothers either, but also I’m not sure that our modern perception of mothers and babies applies across all species, or even all situations. I wonder if mothers in places (and times) where infant mortality is/was high could afford to invest as much emotional attachment to their newborns as we do, in the first world and modern times.

    The fact is that living takes life, whether that life is an animal that you eat, or the many animals that get damaged, or have their environment destroyed by the process of food production for humans. As Barbara Kingsolver says, how many bunnies are beheaded in the process of harvesting a field of soya beans?

    I am an omnivore. I agree that many people eat too much meat and other animal products. I agree that the practice of intensive farming to produce meat is very harmful for the environment and in many cases very cruel to the animals. But not all meat/egg/dairy production is done this way. Animals can be raised on grass, and pastures can be maintained without the use of environmentally harmful pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. In some cases, the land might be better put to this purpose than forced to grow plant based food. It is all dependent on where the land is, and how the food is grown. But the fact is, that our modern lifestyle, which offers us so much variety of food that has been transported into our busy and heavily populated cities is as much to blame as any one particular kind of food. In my opinion, the type of diet we should all be aiming for, is one that uses locally produced food, in season, and not one that bans any particular kind of food. And also, one that minimises waste, both in the food that we discard uneaten, but even more so where food is wasted when it is processed from one form to another.

    As I said, living takes life. We are part of the natural environment where that is a given, and for many other species the process of taking life to live is often a lot more cruel than anything humans do. I own sheep and they have lambs, some of which are destined for our freezer. But I look after those lambs, make sure that they are born safely, fed by their mothers (or me), protected from inclement weather, disease and predators. Without my intervention, many of those lambs would die naturally, from neglect, starvation, cold, pneumonia or another disease, and they would probably suffer a lot more than they do when they are slaughtered quickly. Fly strike, for example, which is a natural killer of sheep, is a long, and horrible way to die.

    All we can do is to minimise the effect our particular life has on the rest of the natural world, and do the best we can to ensure that our diet is appropriate for where we live.

    End of my rant. Only my opinion of course.

    Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful day, with your lovely family.

    1. Hi Catherine,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I’m delighted to see that you read my post and that you took the time to write such a long and thoughtful comment. Rants are always welcome 🙂

      It’s true that we can never avoid having a negative impact on the planet unless we all kill ourselves and I’m certainly not advocating that. But we can mitigate our impact and our food choices have a much greater impact than most people realise.

      It’s true that almond milk is not without consequences through land and water use but its impact is far less than dairy in all areas, including greenhouse gas emissions.

      For water use it takes about 15.3 gallons of water to produce 16 almonds. With around 23 almonds you can make about 3.5 cups of almond milk. A friend of mine used to make it in Auckland and it’s really just ground up almonds and water. Dairy on the other hands uses around 143 gallons of water per four cups of milk.

      Ref: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/05/21/us/your-contribution-to-the-california-drought.html?_r=3

      On carbon emissions almonds produce around 1kg of CO2-equivalent per 1kg of almonds.
      Ref:
      http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=11273

      Milk is twice as much as this with around 2.05kg CO2-equivalent per 1kg of milk consumed.
      Ref: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0958694612001975

      Livestock farming scores poorly in terms of land use, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions. I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, livestock farming produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire global transport sector; that’s all the trucks, planes, buses, cars, trains and ships on the planet. According to a recent article by George Monbiot (references are in the article), 1kg of lamb protein produced from a hill farm in England produces more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.

      Everyone needs to know this. Livestock farming is the big elephant in the room when it comes to climate change. No-one wants to talk about it.

  5. I appreciate your courage to post your photos on the blog so openly. I will hopefully get over it some time as soon as I become HE-man 😀

    Thanks for the warning on the video. I don’t dare to open it.

  6. You bought all the chocolate! I love almond milk (although when I made some I was terrified by the amount of pulp it produces – I’m hoping they put it to use somewhere else in the food industry, and possibly industrial production would get more milk out of the almonds than my squeezing it through a sieve.) I think the skirt deserves two pictures all to itself.
    Happy Christmas to you in your beautiful part of the world.

    1. A very happy Christmas to you too, Denise! I hope you have a nice and relaxing day.

      Was the home-made almond milk nicer than the bought stuff? I don’t actually particularly like almond milk – it’s too sweet. It’s very nice in chocolate but I much prefer soy milk as a drink, in my tea and coffee, and on cereals. It’s also very expensive so I buy soy milk instead.

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