A Rude Awakening

Last week I found myself taken aback, angry and confused to see an Instagram post from the company Rude Health declaring their support of the dairy industry. For those of you unfamiliar with the Rude Health brand, they produce an array of high-end, dairy free nut, oat and rice milks, and I have to admit their products are, well were, among my favourites. Like many of the other people who saw this post, my initial assumption was that either their account had been hacked or someone on work experience had made a massive PR error. However, a quick search on their website revealed neither of these scenarios to be the case. In fact, what I discovered was a ‘rant’ blog post from their Co-founder and Brand Director, Camilla Barnard, in which she categorised vegetarianism and veganism as fad diets.

While I don’t often get angry about many things, the messaging from Rude Health really wound me up, not least because it shows such a total lack of understanding on so many levels. It’s a lack of understanding of the motivations behind a plant based lifestyle (which Barnard describes as a fad diet ‘to save you from cancer and early death’ and a means by which to ‘claim the health and moral-high ground’), a complete misreading of who the people are who actually buy their products, and from a brand and marketing perspective, an apparent ignorance about how and why people align themselves to particular brands and brand identities.

Since seeing the Instagram image and reading the blog post, I have found myself morbidly fascinated in following the backlash of these postings, reading the thousands of comments that have resulted – many from people like me, who really don’t understand why any company in its right mind would seek to alienate one of its core audiences – and watching and waiting for some kind of explanation, apology or rationality from Rude Health. None has come.

I have also decided, along with many other vegans, to boycott Rude Health products. Reiterating the points above, my decision to buy Rude Health’s dairy-free milks was not just based on the fact that they were tasty; just as my decision not to eat animals and animal products is not just part of a fad to ‘save me from cancer’.

The fact is, that many vegans, myself included, made this lifestyle choice because we are fundamentally opposed to the meat and dairy industries and the impact they have on the well-being of animals and on the environment. We have seen the dark side of these industries and have come to our own conclusions not to play a part in the perpetuation of them. I didn’t become a vegan on the back of a ‘celebrity exclusion diet’ or to claim ‘the moral high-ground’. I became a vegan because I find the idea of killing another sentient being and consuming its corpse for pleasure totally barbaric and abhorrent. If my decision not to eat meat at the age of 8 was a fad, then it has been a bloody long one. Likewise, I don’t see that I have any business in drinking the breast milk of another species, not least when getting that milk involves cows being raped, having their calves taken away from them, being pumped full of hormones and steroids, being forced to express milk to the point of suffering from severe mastitis and then being culled when they are no longer of any use to the industry. No Camilla I am not ‘forced by an allergy’ to follow this diet, but I am compelled to, by the facts of an industry which I find to be inhumane. Eating may be a social activity and you may want ‘positivity and fun around food’, but this is equally possible while following a wholly plant-based diet and the fact is when I eat what I eat, no one has to die in the process.

Moreover, I’d be really interested to see who are actually buying Rude Health milk-alternative products. In insulting the vegan community, Rude Health clearly believe that there is a large enough market of non-vegans who are prepared to pay a minimum of £3.50 on a weekly basis for a carton of cashew milk and I just can’t believe that to be the case (although I’d love to be wrong on this). Even living in the lefty, middle-class bubble of North London, I don’t know any non-vegans who would be prepared to splurge on three different types of dairy-free milks on a weekly basis in the way that my vegan friends and I do. I know a few people who might buy almond or soya milk as a one off, but even then it is usually a cheaper brand, not Rude Health.

Finally, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to see that people buy into brands not just products. Whether it is in fashion or food, we like to align ourselves to the brands that we feel either reflect our personalities and our values, or that we aspire to imitate. In pledging their support for the dairy industry, Rude Health have isolated themselves from a massive vegan community who are fundamentally opposed to that industry.

And the big question for me is, why say anything at all? Why kick up this storm so unnecessarily? Is it just a case of massively misjudging and underestimating your audience, or is there something more sinister like a cash injection from an interested party behind it?

I’d be really interested to hear both your and Rude Health’s thoughts around this. I’ll also be keeping a keen eye on the Companies House site for their next accounts statement. 


6 Non-dairy milks that will have you leaving the cows behind

You don’t have to be a vegan or sworn-off dairy to enjoy the wide variety of milk alternatives now available in most supermarkets and health food stores. From almond milk to Oatly the range is not inconsiderable, and with each type and brand providing its own unique flavour and nutritional profile you could be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the offering.

Having sampled my fair share of milk alternatives, both good and bad, I wanted to provide a quick rundown of my favourites so you too can be enjoying soya in your coffee, oat milk in your porridge and hazelnut milk in your hot chocolate, while avoiding some of the cardboardy, flavourless or over-sweet options on the market.

1. Oat milk

Best for breakfast

OatlyOatly is my go-to breakfast milk. Rich and creamy it’s perfect in porridge but it’s also tasty in cereal, as well as in tea (although a word of warning , while still delicious, it does tend to separate in tea leaving you with a cloudy brew). Naturally sweet it requires no additional sugary nasties and Oatly have recently brought out a ‘barista’ version, which means you can now enjoy it in you flat white or frothed in your cappuccino.

Nutrition information per 100g:
Energy 45 kcal
Fat 1.5g
of which saturated 0.2g
Carbohydrates 6.5g, of which sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Fibre 0.8g
Salt 0.1g

Added extras:
Vitamin D 1.5 µg (30%*)
Riboflavin 0.21 mg (15%*)
Vitamin B12 0.38 µg (15%*)
Calcium 120 mg (15%*)

As an sneaky treat Oatly also do a chocolate oat milk and this is my absolute favourite chocolate milk alternative. Although there are added sugars in this version (carbohydrates 9.5g, of which sugars 7g), it’s not super-high calorie (55 kcals per 100ml) and still has added vitamin D, riboflavin, B12 and calcium, good for those wintery evenings when you need a hot chocolaty pick-me-up!

2. Coconut milk

Best for smoothies

alpro-coconut-milk.jpgIf you’re looking for something to whizz up with your cucumber and kale, or to set off a pineapple and mango smoothie then look no further than Alpro Coconut Drink. Although quite sweet and ‘thin’ (i.e. it will take half a carton to change the colour of your tea), coconut milk is a delicious addition when whizzed up with a variety of ingredients and served over ice.

Nutrition information per 100ml:
Energy 20 kcal
Fat 0.9g, of which saturates 0.9g
Carbohydrate 2.7g, of which sugars 1.9g
Protein 0.1g
Fibre 0.0g
Salt 0.13g

Added extras:
Vitamin D 0.75µg (15%*)
Vitamin B12 0.38µg (15%*)

3. Soya milk

Best in coffee

bonsoyYou know a coffee shop takes itself seriously when you see Bonsoy behind the counter. It’s not cheap but it’s so creamy and delicious and it doesn’t curdle in coffee or separate like other options. I try to limit my soya intake and this is a bit of an indulgence to buy for home use, but I’d recommend it if you are going out for coffee or brunch or if you have a good coffee machine and want a lazy weekend treat.

Nutrition information per 100ml:
Energy 61 kcal
Fat  2.2g, of which saturates  0.3g
Carbohydrates 5.5g, of which sugars  2.2g
Protein  4.1g
Fibre  1.4g
Salt  0.13g

4. Rice milk

rude health rice (2)Rude Health have transformed rice milk for me. Their brown rice milk is totally tasty and doesn’t have the watery or oily taste of other rice milk alternatives. It is naturally sweet (but not as sickly sweet as other rice milk options) and makes a great addition to a rice pudding or porridge oats.

It is also great if you are on an elimination or low soya or dairy, or a gluten free diet.

Provamel also offer a tasty rice milk option with added calcium and it comes in slightly cheaper than the Rude Health version. It’s not quite as creamy, and you need to add quite a lot to tea and coffee, but it is yummy in porridge and does offer an additional calcium hit.

Nutrition information per 100ml:
Rude Health
Energy 59 kcal
Fat 1.3g, of which saturates 0.4g
Carbohydrates 11g, of which sugars 5g
Protein 0.3g
Fibre 0.7g
Salt 0.1g

Energy 54 kcal
Fat 1.1g, of which saturates 0.2 g
Carbohydrates 11g, of which sugars 6.5 g
Protein 0.1g
Fibre 0g
Salt 0.1g

Added extras:
Calcium 120 mg

5. Almond milk

For Almond milk, for me it’s between Rude Health and The Pressery.

I like Rude Health’s Ultimate Almond consists of just natural spring water, organic Italian almonds and that’s it! It actually tastes like almonds and not like sugar, like many other almond alternatives.

Similarly, The Pressery are committed to simple ingredients and a delicate taste. What also wins me over is that for every carton sold they donate 5p to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

the presseryThey also produce almond-based drinks, available in 250ml bottles and including cacao sweetened with maple syrup and vanilla, turmeric with cayenne and honey, strawberry, and matcha.

Nutrition per 100ml:

Rude Health
Energy 38 kcal
Fat 3.2g, of which saturates 0.3g
Carbohydrates 0.8g, of which sugars 0g
Protein 1.5g
Fibre 0.8g
Salt 0g

The Pressery
Energy 42 kcal
Fat 4 g, of which saturates 0g
Carbohydrates 0g, of which sugars 0g
Protein  0g
Fibre 0g
Salt 0mg

6. Hazelnut milk

Best for hot chocolate

alpro hazelnut.jpgAnother nutty option, Alpro hazelnut milk, is almost chocolately in flavour. It can be enjoyed on its own, or, if you are feeling very indulgent, in hot chocolate. Think Nutella and you will have an ideas of how delicious this option is!

While it is quite sweet, Alpro do always throw in additional vitamins and minerals, making sure that you get you calcium and b vitamins in this – great for vegans!

Nutrition per 100ml:
Energy 29 kcal
Fat 1.6 g, of which saturates 0.2 g
Carbohydrate 3.1 g, of which sugars 3.1 g
Fibre 0.3 g
Protein 0.4 g
Salt 0.13 g

Added extras:
Vitamin D 0.75 µg 15%*
Vitamin B2 0.21 mg 15%*
Vitamin B12 0.38 µg 15%*
Vitamin E 1.80 mg 15%*
Calcium 120 mg 15%*

Do you have a favourite non-dairy milk that you would recommend? Or some great dairy-free recipes to try? 
*% of DRI