Karin Ridgers chats about the past, the connection to Mothers Day and being Dairy free – and some fantastic vegan options below too.

It was perhaps 25 years ago when I first tasted Swedish Glace ice cream. I remember the day well. I took the day off from my busy private banking career (in my former life – I now run my own business and VeggieVision TV) and went to help JoAnn Brown who had not long set up The Vegan Prisoner Support Group.

She changed my life. And in fact the vegan ice cream did too.

Knowing that people were going to prison for their vegan beliefs – and that dairy free ice cream could taste so good I knew I had to be vegan.

It was only after this I learnt about the dairy industry – well there was no social media, no internet – I went to the library and sought out magazines from The Vegan Society, Viva! – and also the original Vegetarian Living magazine that subsequently closed down after my sister and I were going to be on the front cover!

However on a less pleasant note … what happened then in the dairy industry still happens today.

Firstly dairy cows are all female. Not everyone realises this.

Also cows DO NOT GIVE MILK. Well they don’t give milk to humans anyway. We take it. And I am still wondering why the cow was picked? Why not a horse? A donkey? Why even cockroaches produce milk for their babies. Maybe this is why we say “poor cow”.

And why are we shown pretty little but deceiving story books at school – and even as babies? They show us simply what life on the farm isn’t like at all. A baby book depicting life on a factory farm and showing what really happens may not sell the deception so well. It would create more dairy free kids.

Like a woman a cow only produces milk after she has had her baby and we take the milk away – as well as the baby.

Her calf is usually taken within 48 hours after a 9 month pregnancy. The separation is a traumatic experience and I have heard of cows searching and crying for their babies for days afterwards.

If the calf is female then she shares the same fate as her dairy cow mother. If the calf is male he is a “by product” and could be sold for veal or killed on the farm.

Is this worth it for a drop of milk in your tea or for your cheese sandwich? Especially when the animal free alternatives are so good!

The main ingredient of milk may surprise you….. it is water! Then a mix of sugars and proteins and a very small amount of vitamins – that you can get from plants!

What has always turned my stomach is that is pus in milk too. Yes pus – like when you squeeze that zit on your chin that you know you should leave alone.

According to my long time friends at Viva!;

“Milk containing up to 400 million somatic cells per litre can be legally sold in the UK. In the USA, the upper limit for somatic (pus) cells is 750 million and there’s a lot of pressure on the UK and EU to raise the limit – with Brexit, this may happen in near future.”

So needless to say to the best way to celebrate Mothers Day this year is to ditch the dairy and explore the incredible array of dairy free products that we now have. From small independent vegan cheese makers, from your local health food store, to what’s now in the supermarket, to even making your own!

Here are some vegan ways to celebrate Mother’s Day too…. And as a mum to my life long vegan son Callum I would love all of these. Or simply for him to get his homework done without me moaning.


Buy your mum milk an exciting selection of dairy free milks to try – from supermarkets, independent stores and online.

Buy your mum some delicious dairy free yoghurts, cheese, butters – and most importantly vegan chocolates to enjoy. Why not research and support an independent vegan company.




Go and visit your local animal sanctuary (when possible!) or journey further afield when we can – many have vegan cafes in the grounds too  -although check before setting off.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary in Essex


The Retreat Animal Rescue in Kent


Beneath The Wood, Wales


Make your mum a delicious cruelty free Mothers Day roast (following any distancing guidelines) and include a glass of vegan red wine – if this is her thing! Get her to put her feet up for the afternoon.

If your mum is too far away or seeing her isn’t possible then maybe arrange for a lovely vegan friendly gift to be sent and do give her a call.

Or if you have a mum like mine – then a few Pinot Grigios and then out clubbing!

Happy Mothers Day mum!


With super thanks to the amazing www.retreatanimalrescue.org.uk  for these stunning images too 🙂