Refarm’d is a fantastic business idea – go to the top of the class! Beginning in London and now expanding nationally (and hopefully worldwide), this removes the ‘but what about the farmers?’ argument, for switching to plant-based milks. Whereas in the dairy industry, baby male calves are often shot at birth as they provide no income (unless removed from their mothers to be sent abroad to make veal), the plant milk industry also has its controversies.
You’ve likely heard that ‘avocados and almonds are not vegan’. This is not strictly true, it’s just that certain farming methods by big corporations use techniques like ‘migratory beekeeping’ which lets bee starve after the harvest. Nothing’s perfect (the natural process of growing figs can cause wasps to die). That’s why it’s so important to try to choose local and small-scale farmed produce. But this idea is something else indeed:
Rather than the old ‘them and us’ argument between vegans and farmers, this is far more co-operative. The organisation and farmers work together, so that the herd stays together (ideally on the land they live on now), then just leaves them to live out their lives in peace, akin to an animal sanctuary.
And then in keeping with the ‘local artisan food movement’, it gives help and support for dairy farmers to transition over to growing oats to make oat milk, sold locally in glass bottles. This means the farmers get to keep or increase their income, and the cows are not milked, nor have their babies removed, nor sent for slaughter at the end of their milking lives.
There is now a huge demand for plant milk. Yet most brands even today are from big corporations, often involved or owned by less ethical businesses. Oats grow most anywhere, they make a great plant milk (the best for cappuccinos) and this helps local customers, local farmers and cows too! This is important, as many dairy farmers dread having to close down a farm (and lose their home), especially if it’s been in the family for hundreds of years. This is a win-win-win solution for all.
One UK farm has already got on board. It was helped to convert land to an animal sanctuary, and then local people sign up for a subscription service to order locally-made oat milk (keeping a much-loved family farm afloat). Abroad, the idea is taking off particularly in Switzerland, where farmers are swapping the farming of cows and pigs, for the farming of oats. There is also no Tetrapak plastic packaging, no lorries thundering the milk down from central distribution houses, and no big factory ownership (all the profits go to your local farmers). There is even an app to handle orders, make payments, make deliveries and find a local farm that is involved.
Interested? Then just visit the site above and get on board, whether you are a local campaigner, a local farmer or someone who would like to help organise distribution. Cows can stay in their herds, and be happy and free. And we can sleep better, knowing that when they pop their heads over the gate to say hello and lick your face, they can live the rest of their lives out in peace. Farm sanctuaries are great (to rescue abused animals), but this is a good add-on that brings in a business model that farmers will be enthusiastic about too. Making money from selling oat milk makes it far easier for farmers to come around. He or she earns an income, the cows live as in nature, and everyone gets nice local artisan plant milk.
If you look closely at this beautiful video which shows a woman at an animal sanctuary serenading a rescued cow to sleep with her guitar, you’ll see that the cow carefully ensures not to hurt the woman with her horn, as she lies down next to her human friend: