— by Su-Min
It wasn’t called “Dairy Challenge” for nothing – sticking to a non-dairy diet was tough. The point, perhaps, should be that I did not stick to it; I was only successful in going dairy free for one day of our weeklong challenge. The extent of my cheats varied throughout the week – some were accidental (I forgot about the diet and ate a chocolate on the first day), some were small cheats (a cookie!) and some can’t even be defended (I love milk, and I cut down on a lot of milk during the challenge, but I succumbed to temptation on a few occasions). Others were “circumstantial cheats”, such as how we had a DF group meeting where our friends cooked dishes from home for us, and seriously, you cannot turn that down!
Moving on from my laundry list of excuses, I will admit that I didn’t enjoy the challenge, because it required such an immense diet change. However, my two greatest takeaways from this experience are, simply put, EVERYTHING HAS DAIRY and DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE.
Well, okay, let me qualify my statements. It is not true that everything has dairy, but anything that is remotely tasty probably does. This made me aware of how important dairy is in the modern diet, and how hard it is to avoid it completely because it is a component of so many different types of food.
On to my second point, my inability to stick to the diet shows that knowing the environmental impacts of my actions does not necessarily mean that I am willing and able to give up something that I consider as an integral part of my daily life. While this isn’t a groundbreaking revelation, it makes me realize that if a somewhat-environmentally-conscious person like me can so easily decide that “milk is too important to be cut out of my life” in spite of knowing how it harms the environment (and animals, and myself), it is no wonder that global warming is a thing; I have to be able to be willing to make sacrifices in my own lifestyle for the environment before I can expect others to do the same.
To end this reflection with an optimistic cliché, change starts with me! While I may not be able to cut dairy out of my diet completely, cutting down on it is a better option than reverting to my original lifestyle and that is what I will aim to do.