I couple of days ago I wrote about an oatmeal pudding that I like to eat instead of yoghurt, you can read the post here. The post about the oatmeal-pudding led to an interesting debate on Facebook where the topic was whether it’s better to buy normal yoghurt packed in a tetra pak (or some other cardboard package) or an oat-pudding in a plastic pot.
So which one is better? This depends on what environmental problem we are trying to affect by our choices. If it’s climate change: the oat-pudding packed in plastic is definitely better. If it’s littering we want to decrease, then the tetra pak might be better. But actually, the tetra pak is made of both cardboard and plastic. Otherwise the yoghurt would just melt the paper. I have done a documentary about plastic, as soon as it is published I’ll let you know. I certainly learned a lot about plastic when I did the documentary, but this post focuses on diary products.
I want to explain why I think we should it less yoghurt, butter, cheese etc. I still eat cheese (I love it <3) so you shouldn’t think, I think dairy products are all bad , but I do try to eat less of them than before. The world is not black and white! Some people participating in the mentioned discussion said that cows (and therefore also yoghurt) are natural and that they don’t harm our environment. That’s true. I absolutely don’t think we should get rid of all cows, not at all! The keeping of cows has been what started saving Finland from several episodes of starvation in the 19th century.
But…here comes the big but. Everything is sustainable only up to a certain level. We are about 5 times more people in Finland, than at the point of time when cows saved us from starvation. I’m sure you all know the basic food chain: a certain amounts of plants are required to produce a lesser amount of meat. As long as the cows only eat grass we don’t really loose as much energy, but in that way the cows don’t grow that fast. Growing food that could be eaten by humans to feed cows is waste of natural resources. Globally, we have destroyed enough forest to make fields out of them. Growing food only for humans (not so much for cows) means less demand of new fields. Also when many animals are put in a small space their excrement become a problem. A big pile of cow-shit needs to be turned in order to get oxygen. Otherwise the decomposing turns into a chemical process producing a lot of ammonium, which results in acidification. In most Finnish farms, I’m sure they do their best to make sure the pile of excrement gets enough oxygen but there are always places that cheat.
Many people argue that it’s okay to eat cheese but not to eat beef. This something of a paradox. Me being a vegetarian (not eating beef) but eating cheese is a bit paradoxical, I admit it. Especially cheese requires so much milk that it uses almost the same amount of natural resources as beef. And if the argument for eating dairy products but not meat, is that cheese does not require killing, I am sorry to tell you that most male calves (born to make sure cows produce milk) are killed. But yes, it’s true that milk cows get to live longer that beef cows. And that’s why I the end,in my opinion dairy products are a bit more sustainable than beef!
I still eat cheese because it’s one of my favorite foods. I don’t think I need to stop doing it, but I’m also aware that an excessive consumption is not sustainable. But instead of eating cheese on a daily basis, cheese has become a food for special occasions, when I really want to spoil myself. On Monday I was on an international food event and oh my god that Dutch cheese with mustard, I just couldn’t resist!
Do you want to read even more about the sustainability of cheese? Check this one out!