The day after Thanksgiving, although it’s too late for millions of industrially slaughtered animals, is a good time to think about plant-based diets. I’ve been a vegan for three years now, and it has led me to some interesting places. One of them is oat milk. Like most Americans, I eat cereal for breakfast most days. (When I volunteered for the dig at Tel Dor in 1987, however, olives, Nutella, and bagels made quite a passable morning meal.) Apart from cereal breakfasts being a religiously motivated practice, they’re easy to prepare but difficult to do without milk. You can (and many sometimes do) eat dry cereal, but we’ve been conditioned to pour milk on it to make a kind of soupy, grainy start to our day. It feels familiar.
We started out, after much research, using soy milk. It has to be a particular brand, though, because it can have an oily taste. We eventually switched to oat milk. Unlike soy, I can actually drink it like regular milk. We’ve been buying Planet Oat, but recently we tried Oatly. Now, I’m one for a working breakfast. Time is precious and work begins uncompromisingly early. That means I don’t read cereal boxes or milk cartons any more. That changed with Oatly. I found an entertaining and eloquently stated kind of creed on the back of the carton. When’s the last time someone brought spirituality to the breakfast table (apart from introducing the eating breakfast cereal craze)? It makes me feel more grounded.
The intricately interconnected web of life makes me think that we should be cognizant of our food. What we eat should be approached reflectively. If we had government subsidies for fields of oats rather than industrial farms for the inhumane treatment of “food animals” it seems to me the world would be in a better place, spiritually. There’s been some comeback of wildlife since Covid-19 forced us all indoors. I am glad to see it. These creatures are our siblings. Even if that seems to be going too far, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny that animals have emotions and minds, particularly those that humans eat. Given the foodieness of contemporary society (everyone’s talking about food rather worshipfully these days) it would seem that pondering at least how we treat animals before we eat them should be a matter of common courtesy. Being so far removed from our sources of sustenance has done something to us, I fear. There are great alternatives out there, and some even make you smile while munching your cereal.