Today I learnt that “mylk” is used for those non-dairy drinking products that imitate dairy products, such as almond, soy and oatmeal “milk”. Such products have been around for a quite some time, and the reason I hadn’t heard “mylk” is probably because it is an English word. Or I have the wrong friends. In Swedish milk is “mjölk”. I couldn’t find “mjylk” in a very quick web search, but it may arrive here, too. What about fysh sticks and soy fylets?
Now, vegans and vegetarians have for a very long time imitated animal-food products forms, such as sausages and burgers. I was once a vegetarian, and even back then I found those products pointless and expensive. Which is the case with mylk, too. It is just a very expensive way to distribute vegetarian produce. E.g. recently I bought a litre of oat mylk, as I expected a (non-vegan) guest that likes it. The popular brand here is Oatly. The marketing is to me preachy and tiring (and sometimes seems to be “ironic”, but it probably makes sense to some people. The products are nice. But buying a liter of 90% water and 10% oats (according to the package I have in front of me) distributed in cardboard does not make neither economic nor ecological sense to me. Oats are cheap (even ecologically grown of high quality), and also storeable for long time.
So are such vegan products the Way to a better future? Not necessarily. These products have a use, for ex. for vegans or non-drinkers of cow milk on the move. Carrying cartons of this home instead of something closer to the raw material? Don’t think so. Milk is different. As an aside, a local dairy here has started selling milk in bottles. In Japan school children are given (not very nice) milk in small bottles. That might not be a good idea, as I am not sure Japanese have the gut to process milk products. Generally they don’t eat cheese either.
I am not after oat mylk, nor Oatly as company, I just had the carton of oatmeal mylk at home.
We also had a recent debate in Sweden (and maybe elsewhere?) that milk is a symbol of white power (!), since it’s been a strongly regulated promoted standard fare in “white” countries. I.e. Northern Europe and Anglo-America. Some apparently has used it as propaganda. Does that make milk drinking an expression of white power or racism? Of course not. Although cow milk has dominated, there is also goat’s milk, although that is more in other parts of the world. What about cattle based economies in East Africa? Mongols and others use horse milk. In most parts of the world, milk is often made into cheese, or fermented. Is it anti-racist to eat cheese? Cow milk cheese can be quite yellow. There is goat cheese that is very white. Should Northern climes have more goats and less cows? There is something mooronic about this. Tiring symbol politics. Milk is a standard drink in Sweden, although it might have decreased. I stopped drinking milk in my early 20s, which all those years ago actually astonished some people here, and it made me feel slightly “un-Swedish”. But were these astonished heavy milk-drinkers in any way or form white supremacists, or even expressed being part of, or expression of, white power? No.
Next thing, some will argue that using animal’s milk is an expression of patriarchy.
Neither plants nor animals were hurt in the process of writing this, as I already had breakfast when I sat down at computer. If any animal was hurt in the process of reading this, I am sorry. A little.
Footnote: The expression “bovine idiom” in this post’s excerpt I borrowed from the famous, some would say legendary, anthropologist E.E. Evans-Pritchard, who wrote that the East African people Nuer had a “bovine idiom”, meaning they were quite busy describing and interpreting their world in relation to their cattle, as cattle defined not only their economy but also their survival.