Around 8 years ago I was suffering from what ended up being self diagnosed sinusitis.
One bout lasted for a solid two months. The constant “axe in my head” like headaches were so intense that it made me feel nauseous and completely exhausted.
At the time I was teaching 20 classes a week, pilates mainly as I was not yet qualified in yoga but about to take my teacher training. The headaches were so bad that the sound of my own voice was excruciating so you can imagine how difficult teaching was becoming.
I blamed the headaches, as did most of the people I sought advice from, including my GP, on stress, over working and burn out. Nothing would ease it. No pain killers or even strong migraine pills prescribed by the Doctor worked. It was a nightmare and I was so frustrated with feeling like this, every morning waking up and hoping the awful headache would be gone, to realise it was exactly the same as the day before.
One Sunday I almost completely broke down after teaching 5 consecutive pilates reformer classes that required a lot of energy, projection and alertness. I managed to cover up the pain in front of the classes but was running to the loo and crying in between the sessions. I stopped at the Tesco pharmacy on the way home to get some pain killers, even though I knew they would make no difference, I had to feel like I was doing something. I think the nice lady behind the counter could see my pain. I told her (she was not the pharmacist by the way!) my symptoms ( at this point I still don’t know it’s sinusitis) and she advised me to steam/inhalation with olbas oil.
OH sweet Lord!
The first steam was a revelation and I had immediate relief. I continued to steam every hour until the sinusitis had pretty much gone. The next day I woke up with no headache and a spring in my step, I felt like myself again! However, the sinusitis did come back a few more times but I knew how to get rid of it thanks to the wonderful shop assistant at Tesco pharmacy! So grateful to that lovely lady!
But the reality was, it did keep coming back so I wanted to find out how I could prevent it. I did not want this awful debilitating ailment for the rest of my life!
One day I was chatting with a fellow pilates teacher, telling her my sinus troubles and she advised me to cut out cows milk.
Oh really? ……was my naive response.
I would never have known this or even connected the sinusitis to diet.
I had no idea that milk was responsible for the build up of mucus. I had always absolutely despised the taste of milk but thought we needed to drink it to get our all important calcium. This is what we are brought up to believe, generation after generation, that we get our calcium from cows milk. Strangely enough I would force a glass of milk down when I was a kid because I had those white spots on my nails, which we are told is calcium deficiency. The spots never went away no matter how much cows milk I drank.
If only I knew then what I know now! I definitely now know, that past attempts to go vegetarian in my twenties failed, due to my lack of knowledge on diet and nutrition. Surely this is an essential tool for living a healthy life that should be taught in schools.
So once I was put on the dairy scent. I did my research which opened up a whole new world. I quite quickly realised I also needed to give up butter, cheese, yoghurt and cream. This seemed quite a challenge at the time but I did manage to give up those dairy products over a period of 3 or 4 weeks. Cheese being the last deduction from my diet.
As I searched for dairy free recipes and products I came across Veganism. I saw a short film called “Glass Houses” with Paul McCartney narrating and I was absolutely shocked, disgusted and extremely upset at what I saw. I felt ashamed that I had lived my life so far not knowing or even thinking about of what happens to the poor animals in the meat, dairy and egg industries.
Unfortunately the society we grow up in keeps the truth of animal farming hidden from us. In advertising campaigns we see happy cows living joyful lives out in the open air on green pastures.
Tragically this could not be further from the truth.
I’m pretty sure if I had known the truth as a child I would have been vegan for life, I believe most children would be, given the option. I once heard a vegan activist say; If you give a child an apple and a piglet, they will eat the apple and play with the piglet, not for one second would they consider, eating the piglet.
We are lied to and told that meat and dairy products are essential for good health, we are conditioned to believe that it is completely normal to drink the milk from another species! Think about that. Cows milk is hormonal fluid to help a baby calf grow. No other species drinks another species milk and no other species drinks milk past infancy. What are we humans doing?
Ultimately, the dairy products were causing my sinusitis. When I gave it up, it went away. If I accidentally have dairy (unfortunately happens sometimes when eating out) it comes back.
I had already unofficially stopped eating animal flesh and I started to eat a healthy vegan diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, grains and also introduced green smoothies. Not only were my sinuses better but my digestion, skin, hair and nails all improved. I felt lighter and healthier. I remember someone saying to me “ You should be able to introduce dairy back into your diet gradually once the sinusitis has cleared up and you’ve had a bit of a break from dairy products”
If I had a choice to eat dairy and never get sinusitis or any other of the health problems that dairy causes, I would 100% absolutely not ever eat it again, EVER and this is why.
A dairy cows life-
When a baby cow is born on a dairy farm the female calves will stay in the dairy industry and the male calves will be taken to a veal farm abroad (and that is another story ) The babies are taken away from their Mothers within a day of being born. Cows have strong maternal instincts just like humans but they are helpless in this cruel industry.
Mother and baby cry out in fear for each others lives as they are separated.
Parents, you will know how it feels to be apart from your children, I have it with my dog bad enough, imagine your baby being taken away from you without your consent.
The female babies are taken to a dairy farm holding, where they are kept in small pens with hardly any room to run, skip and play as they naturally would like to, they are babies after all. This is their life until around 8 weeks old. They are fed a milk replacer, not their Mothers milk that they are entitled to and need to grow into a healthy adult cow.
At around 1 year they will be artificially inseminated, this basically means a man will thrust his arm up the cows backside to place in some bull semen, which has been stored frozen. Pregnancy lasts for around 9 months. Once she has given birth her baby will be taken from her, as she was from her Mother and she is ready to become a milking machine to provide milk for another species that do not need her milk. She will likely spend most of her life indoors, hooked up to a machine when she is producing sufficient milk, then she will be ‘rested’ for a couple of months before being artificially inseminated again to repeat the process. She is pumped with antibiotics, steroids and other drugs to help her body deal with excessive milking and repeated pregnancy not to mention the disease and infection caused by the overcrowded conditions she has to endure. This process goes on for up to 4 years, by then the poor cow cannot carry on and her body gives up. Once she stops producing milk and babies to the volume that satisfies the dairy farmer she will be sent to slaughter.
At 4 years old.
These beautiful beings are labelled useless old dairy cows.
At 4 years old.
A cow should live until at least 25. These days there is no such thing as an old dairy cow. They are sent to their death at 4 years old so that a human can enjoy the taste of their flesh after their poor bodies have been abused for their milk and their babies.
Some may say “well at least the slaughter is humane and their sad lives are over quickly” I will just say this, there is no such thing as humane slaughter. Every animal goes to the same slaughter house and is treated the same way in that slaughter house. That includes your free range, organic and grass fed cows. Every animal feels fear, terror and immense anxiety on the long overcrowded journey to the slaughter house.
That fear and anxiety is passed through into the food consumed by humans. The flesh of a dairy cow could end up in a fast food chain or a ready meal in your local supermarket.
When we drink cows milk , we are drinking the hormone fluid that was meant for her baby, she has been forced pregnant (is that not rape) and forced to continually produce milk by a painful machine. I am guilty, in my ignorant past of assuming that cows produced milk all the time naturally. The truth is we humans force them into it. They are kept as slaves to satisfy our taste buds, there is no other reason to drink the milk of a cow. It is hormonal fluid from another species, why on earth would we need to drink this? It is ludicrous when you think about it.
Cows are innocent, sentient beings. They feel joy and pain. They cry out when their babies are taken, they cry with terror when they are going to slaughter. They cry out when they are mutilated, yes, they have their horns and tails cut off with no pain killer plus their ears are tagged. It makes life easier for the farmer.
I have seen footage of tears running down a cows face in a truck on the way to a slaughter house. They know where they are going. These beings are suffering at the hands of a big human lie that has grown through greed and power, laziness and disconnection. What right do we have to enslave, abuse and eat these animals. They have just as much right to be here as we do and live their lives the way they want to, which by the way, would be a peaceful existence. Cows are vegan after all.
We do not need to drink the milk of a cow to get our calcium. There is in fact a protein in cows milk that leeches calcium out of bones. Statistics prove the countries that consume the most dairy products have the highest rates of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
There are plenty of other options to splash on your cereal and put in your tea or coffee. So many options that we are spoilt for choice. Almond, Rice, Soya and Oat milk for example. There is an alternative for everyone. It is so easy these days to make a simple small change that will make a big positive difference. As consumers, when we buy these animal products we are paying for the torture and suffering of innocent beings. We are guilty as hell. As consumers we have the power to change the way these industries control what we eat, simply by making a different choice at the supermarket.
Ask yourself this, now you know the truth, could you look a dairy cow in the eyes and still condone drinking her babies milk.
Studies have taken place such as “The China Study” to prove the negative effect animal products have on our health. If you are interested to know more please watch “Forks over Knives” and “What The Health” on Netflix or down load on the websites.
So this is why I am grateful for my dairy intolerance. I am grateful for the small amount of suffering I went through because it woke me up to what is really happening in the world of animal agriculture. I now as a vegan feel so much healthier in every way. I’m not saying being vegan is going to stop all diseases, suffering and environmental issues as there are other causes but it is a huge contributor, if not the biggest. I know you will thrive on this diet and way of life, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and karmically. You can live at peace with yourself knowing you have done your bit for the animals, for our planet and for your health. When you go vegan you are making a difference and that effort ripples out to influence others to make positive, healthier compassionate changes to their own lives.
Being Vegan is Awareness, Truth and Compassion
These values reside in all of us at our core.
Sadly these values are clouded by sociological conditioning that continues to repeat itself. I believe there is hope and that this greedy, indulgent, materialistic way of life is about to implode as more and more people wake up to the truth. You just have to look at the state of the rainforests and the oceans to see the effect we humans are having on this planet and a huge majority of that destruction is through animal farming and fishing.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”
Once we as individuals break these cycles through realising the truth, the three qualities will shine out into our lives and our surroundings.
It is already happening. Change is happening.
Don’t get left behind! Yes, there is a long way to go but the path is open and people are waking up all over the world and realising the truth as they did with the abolishment of slavery, women’s equality and gay marriage.
When you choose the vegan way of life another part of your mind will open, the part that was unaware or disconnected from the real truth. You will find a whole new wonderful world where there is hope and inspiration.
As I’ve written this blog I have cried numerous times.
The faces of these gentle, innocent and helpless beings are set in my mind forever. Some might say “why don’t you stop focusing on this if it is upsetting”.
Now I know the truth, I cannot ignore the truth.
I was ignorant and disconnected for 35 years of my life, I ate meat and dairy. I can make excuses that I am a slow learner ( I am!!!) and I didn’t know where these products were really coming from. I could have looked but I didn’t. I always knew deep down it was wrong eating animals, I didn’t even really enjoy any of the animal products I consumed and often felt sick after eating them but I continued anyway because it was “normal” and “healthy”. The truth was always there but selfishly it took my dairy allergy for me to act on it. Now I know, I can make no more excuses. My life is and always will be about the yoga journey and a huge part of that journey is to do everything I can to help end the suffering of animals, the destruction of the planet and to help other humans make the changes required for our world to thrive.
Ahimsa is compassion/ non-harming and Satya is Truth. The first two steps of our yogic path teach us how to live our lives.
Non violently and Truthfully.
This is not preaching, this is sharing reality and offering support to anyone else that realises this truth and wants to make a difference.
Everyone of us has the opportunity to make a difference.
When we think we don’t, we won’t.
When we believe we can, positive change happens.
I am still learning myself but can offer advice and support from my own experiences so please get in touch if you have questions.
Thank you for reading and please do let me know your thoughts.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings everywhere be happy and free.
May all beings everywhere be released from suffering.
May our thoughts, words and actions contribute to liberation, compassion and joy for all.