BBC 2024-02-29 04:31:44

Is a Gaza ceasefire deal in sight?

At the Nova festival site in southern Israel, attacked by Hamas gunmen on 7 October, the families and friends of Israeli hostages began a long march to Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The festival site, near Kibbutz Re’im, is where hundreds of Israelis were killed and hundreds more dragged away into Gaza.

The marchers, carrying pictures of those still missing, are demanding that their government do more to bring the remaining 134 hostages home.

Their hopes have been raised by talk of a ceasefire.

“One hundred and forty-five endless days and nights of yearning for our loved ones,” Ronen Neutra said, addressing the crowd.

Ronen’s 22-year-old son, Omer, is somewhere in Gaza.

“We send them strength, and ask them to hold a little longer,” Ronen said.

“Omer, just a little longer. A deal is possible.”

Since US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators met in Paris last weekend, the Israeli press has been full of talk of a deal to pause the fighting.

No document has been made public, outlining the latest proposals, but when Joe Biden said an agreement might be in place by Monday, speculation only increased.

But what might a deal look like?

It is thought a ceasefire could last for six weeks, during which time 40 Israeli hostages would gradually be released. Female civilians and soldiers would be freed first.

In return, around 400 Palestinian prisoners, some of them convicted of serious terrorist offences, would be released from Israeli jails.

Israeli soldiers might move away from some of Gaza’s most populated areas, and some of the 1.8 million Palestinians displaced by the fighting since October might be able to return to homes in the north.

But with talks still going on in Qatar this week – where Egyptian and Qatari mediators are shuttling between Israeli and Hamas delegates – it is clear that most issues are still up in the air.

Reports suggest that there is still wrangling over the number of Palestinian prisoners released for each Israeli hostage.

Nor is there yet thought to be agreement on the redeployment of Israeli soldiers or the return of Palestinians to their homes.

But Haim Tomer, a former Mossad chief of division, with experience of previous negotiations, told me he was optimistic.

“I think that we are pretty close,” he said.

“I’m not saying that for sure we will see the release of hostages and Palestinian prisoners. But I think that the negotiation is getting forward.”

He cited comments by the Qatar-based leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who gave the first oblique hint on Wednesday that the group might be softening its position on a deal.

“Any flexibility we are showing in the negotiations,” he said in a televised address, “is to protect the blood of our people and to put an end to their huge pains and sacrifices in the brutal war of extermination against it.”

Mr Haniyeh went on to say that Hamas was ready to keep fighting if necessary, and he urged Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to defy Israeli restrictions and march on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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The reference to “flexibility” indicated that Hamas might be reconsidering demands – a complete end to the fighting and the total withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip – which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called “delusional.”

But Hamas has yet to respond formally to the proposals drawn up in Paris.

It is also not known what Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, thinks about the deal.

He was last filmed in an underground tunnel, somewhere underneath Khan Yunis or Rafah.

His guerrilla army is slowly being annihilated above him and the Israeli government has vowed to capture him.

Israeli officials have suggested that Mr Sinwar’s authority has been severely eroded by five-and-a-half months of crushing bombardment and the deaths of tens of thousands of his people.

Such reports are hard to verify, but one thing is certain – it is harder and harder to communicate with the man who launched the attacks of 7 October.

Meanwhile, the families and friends of the remaining hostages are on the road. They say they will reach Jerusalem on Saturday.

Will good news be waiting for them when they get there?

Top US court will rule on Trump immunity claims

The Supreme Court will decide if ex-President Donald Trump is immune from being prosecuted on charges of trying to overturn the 2020 election.

The 6-3 conservative majority court decided on Wednesday to hear Mr Trump’s claims that he should be shielded from criminal liability.

The ruling marks the first time the court has weighed in on such a case.

A US Court of Appeals panel has already rejected Mr Trump’s argument that he enjoys presidential immunity.

Mr Trump had claimed in the landmark legal case that he was immune from all criminal charges for acts he said fell within his duties as president.

But the appeals court ruled unanimously against the 77-year-old, writing that: “We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a president has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralise the most fundamental check on executive power – the recognition and implementation of election results.”

He appealed the case to the Supreme Court and asked to put that decision on hold.

On his Truth Social site, Mr Trump welcomed Wednesday’s decision and contended that without immunity “Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office”.

“This could actually lead to the extortion and blackmail of a President,” he wrote.

Mr Trump was charged last year with witness tampering and conspiracy to defraud the US in federal court in Washington DC over his attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

Jack Smith, who was appointed as special counsel in the investigation, brought the charges against Mr Trump, and pushed for the trial to be held this year.

The court could have let the appellate court judgement stand, which would have allowed the trial proceedings to resume.

Instead, a minimum of four of the nine justices voted to take up the case. That suggests that there is some debate within the court on whether Mr Trump has some immunity from prosecution.

The decision has the potential to seriously delay the trial, which was originally scheduled for March.

Arguments in the Supreme Court case are scheduled for the week of 22 April, and any trial will have to wait until after a decision is made.

Although a decision could come swiftly, the justices could rule that the former president is immune from prosecution, or issue a decision that further delays legal action.

Justice Department guidelines limit prosecutorial action in politically sensitive investigations from within 60 days of an election – meaning prosecutors face a deadline of early September.

And if Mr Trump wins in November, there is a growing possibility that the case never reaches trial. His Justice Department officials could drop or indefinitely suspend the special counsel investigation or he could take the unprecedented step of issuing a pardon for himself.

The Republican front-runner candidate for president is facing a host of other federal and state criminal charges.

The former president is facing a trial starting in late March on charges of falsifying business records over hush-money payment he made to a porn star.

The Supreme Court is also hearing arguments in a separate case weighing whether Mr Trump can be disqualified from running for a second term under the 14th Amendment’s “insurrection ban.”

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, frequently referring to them as political “witch hunts”.

South Korea doctors face arrest if they don’t end strike

South Korea’s government has threatened to arrest thousands of striking junior doctors and revoke their medical licences if they do not return to work on Thursday.

Around three quarters of the country’s junior doctors have walked out of their jobs over the past week, causing disruption and delays to surgeries at major teaching hospitals.

The trainee doctors are protesting government plans to admit drastically more medical students to university each year, to increase the number of doctors in the system.

South Korea has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios among developed countries, and with a rapidly aging population, the government is warning there will be an acute shortage within a decade.

The empty corridors of St Mary’s Hospital in Seoul this week gave a glimpse of what that future might look like. There was barely a doctor or patient to be seen in the triage area outside the emergency room, with patients warned to stay away.

Ryu Ok Hada, a 25-year-old doctor, and his colleagues have not been to work at the hospital for over a week.

“It feels weird not getting up at 4 a.m.,” Ryu joked. The junior doctor told the BBC he was used to working more than 100 hours a week, often for 40 hours without sleep. “It’s insane how much we work for such little pay”.

  • Surgeries delayed as South Korean doctors walk out

Although doctors’ salaries in South Korea are relatively high, Ryu argues that given their hours, he and other junior doctors can end up earning less than the minimum wage. More doctors will not fix the structural issues within the healthcare system, that leave them overworked and underpaid, he says.

Healthcare in South Korea is largely privatised but affordable. The prices of emergency, life-saving surgeries and specialist care have been set too low, the doctors say, while less essential treatments, like cosmetic surgeries, pay too much. This means doctors are increasingly opting to work in more lucrative fields in the big cities, leaving rural areas understaffed and emergency rooms overstretched.

Ryu, who has been working for a year, says trainee and junior doctors are being exploited by the university hospitals for their cheap labour. In some of the larger hospitals, they make up more than 40% of the staff, providing a critical role in keeping them running.

As a result, surgery capacity at some hospitals has halved over the past week. The disruption has been mostly limited to planned procedures, which have been postponed, with only a few isolated instances of critical care being affected. Last Friday, an elderly woman suffering a cardiac arrest died in an ambulance after seven hospitals reportedly refused to treat her.

‘There are no doctors’

Patience with the doctors is running out from both the public and the healthcare workers needing to pick up the extra work. Nurses have warned they are being forced to carry out procedures in operating theatres that would normally fall to their doctor colleagues.

Ms Choi, a nurse at a hospital in Seoul, told the BBC her shifts had been extended by an hour and a half each day and she was now doing the work of two people.

“The patients are anxious, and I am frustrated that this is continuing without an end in sight,” she said, urging the doctors to come back to work and find another way to demonstrate their grievances.

Under the government’s proposals, the number of medical students admitted to university next year would rise from 3,000 to 5,000. The striking doctors argue that training more physicians would dilute the quality of care, because it would mean giving medical licenses to less competent practitioners.

But the doctors are struggling to convince the public that more doctors would be a bad thing and have garnered little sympathy. At Seoul’s Severance Hospital on Tuesday, 74-year-old Mrs Lee was receiving treatment for colon cancer, having travelled for over an hour to get there.

“Outside the city, where we live, there are no doctors,” she said.

“This problem has been kicked down the road for too long and needs to be fixed,” said Lee’s husband Soon-dong. “The doctors are being too selfish. They’re taking us patients hostage”.

The couple was worried about more doctors joining the strike, and said they would be happy to pay more for their care, if it meant the dispute would be resolved.

But President Yoon Suk Yeol’s approval rating has improved since the walkout began, meaning the government has little incentive to start overhauling the system and making procedures more expensive, just ahead of elections in April.

Both sides are now locked in an intense standoff. The health ministry has refused to accept the doctors’ resignations and is instead threatening to have them arrested for breaking medical law if they do not return to the hospitals by the end of the day. The vice-health minister Park Min-soo has said those who miss the deadline will also have their licences suspended for a minimum of three months.

Though some of those who have walked out believe the government’s heavy-handed approach could swing public opinion. On Sunday, the Korean Medical Association will vote on whether senior doctors should join the trainee physicians. If swathes of their junior colleagues have been arrested, they will be more likely to take action.

Ryu said he was prepared to be arrested and lose his medical licence, and that if the government would not compromise or listen to their grievances, he would walk away from the profession.

“The medical system is broken and if things continue like this it has no future, it will collapse,” he said. “I’ve done some farming before, so perhaps I could go back to that”.

Additional reporting by Jake Kwon

Costa Rica’s uniquely positive outlook on life

Costa Rica’s national saying “pura vida”, which is associated with a sense of wellbeing, positivity and gratitude, is far more than just a simple catchphrase.

If you visit Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly come across the words “pura vida” at some point, whether that’s on the colourful hand-painted signs that are ubiquitous across the country or when friendly staff welcome you to any restaurant, hotel or shop. It’s so embedded in local culture that in November 2023, the phrase was included in the global Spanish dictionary compiled by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) in Madrid for the first time.

In English, “pura vida” can be directly translated as “pure life”; while according to the ­RAE definition, it can describe a person as nice or friendly or relate to good health. It can also express agreement, describe something as good or serve as a greeting or farewell.

But it is so much more than this: to Costa Ricans, it’s a shared identity, a feeling of optimism and a uniquely positive outlook on life.

I grew up surrounded by the phrase, but after nearly five years living in London, I realised that I felt disconnected from its meaning. On a trip back to Costa Rica to visit family and friends, I wanted to rediscover pura vida by finding out what it means to others and see if I could feel it again.

As soon as I arrived at the Juan Santamaria international airport, I was surrounded by it everywhere. There were images covering entire walls welcoming me to the “Pura vida experience”; the words were on screens advertising rental cars and printed on t-shirts, mugs, towels, key chains, and even on the baggage reclaim belt.

Had it become just a marketing tool for tourists, I wondered?

Travellers landing at the Juan Santamaría International Airport are immediately surrounded by the phrase (Credit: Matthew Boulton)

It’s more complex than that, according to Víctor Sánchez, linguistics professor at the University of Costa Rica and president of the Costa Rican Association of Language. He is one of the few academics who has studied the evolution of the phrase locally and was involved in the process to incorporate the phrase into the RAE’s dictionary.

“It’s absolutely part of the Costa Rican ethos and identity,” Sánchez said. It has also become an integral part of the country’s tourism “brand”. “Foreigners notice it, and then repeat it back, strengthening the way we perceive ourselves,” he added.

It’s absolutely part of the Costa Rican ethos and identity. Foreigners notice it, and then repeat it back, strengthening the way we perceive ourselves

Sánchez explained that the phrase first arrived in Costa Rica in the 1950s via a Mexican black and white film called Pura Vida. The story starts when the main character, Melquiades, is being kicked out of town because everyone is convinced he brings bad luck. Instead of complaining, however, Melquiades is smiling and grateful, honoured that the town president is there, even if it is to expel him. Melquiades tells the mayor he is “pura vida”, a phrase he repeatedly uses throughout the movie to describe people and things. In the film, the phrase conveys a sense of gratitude, that even if you are facing difficulties, you are still alive and can look on the bright side of things.

Years later, another Mexican character used the same phrase in the 1969 cult movie Easy Rider, which resonated with young people. Slowly but surely, the phrase spread across society, growing deep roots in local culture and connecting the population, in a process Sánchez calls “lexical diffusion”. He believes the phrase “emigrated” this way to Costa Rica, and stayed because it was well received by a society that had a general positive view of life.

Sanchez vividly remembers colleagues using it in the early 1970s amidst a widespread feeling of happiness and optimism. The Vietnam War was still ongoing, and military dictatorships were common in Latin America, but Costa Rica had a stable economy and democracy. “There was a collective imagination at the time that we were a peaceful country with social justice, access to healthcare and an overall good quality of life,” he said.

While Costa Rica may now be losing its reputation as a safe and peaceful country – in 2023 the country had the highest number of homicides in its history and is facing growing inequality, increased violence and the deterioration of public services – somehow pura vida persists, and the phrase continues to charm tourists that come to visit.

The small Central American country with a population of just five million regularly welcomes 2-3 million visitors annually. One of these tourists is Erika, who frequently visited Costa Rica from the US while growing up and fell in love with the way of life.

“It was spending time with our tour guide when the meaning of pura vida really hit me. He was always so happy, and saw the positive in things,” she said, explaining that he taught her to look at the bigger picture and what is important in life.

However, her most recent trip was not for tourism, but to a rehab centre for substance abuse triggered by her struggles with depression and anxiety.

In Costa Rica I felt like a different person. Everything there seems simpler, and it changed my mindset

“In Costa Rica I felt like a different person. Everything there seems simpler, and it changed my mindset. That’s what inspired me to go there for treatment, because I wanted to learn more about this outlook on life,” she explained.

Costa Ricans have a strong attachment to nature and spending time outdoors is an important part of life (Credit: Jordan Siemens/Getty Images)

For some, pura vida feels so important they decide to get inked. When I visited JP Tattoo Company in a calm and quiet part of the capital, San José, Paula Mart, the tattoo artist who co-owns the studio with her husband, greeted me with a big smile. I asked if she has done pura vida tattoos. “Of course! So many I lost count!” she replied, laughing.

It is mostly foreigners who get the tattoo, she told me. “We [Costa Ricans] use pura vida [in a wide variety of ways] but tourists are really drawn to it, and they make it their own,” she explained. “I think nature and the good energy here really leave a mark, and they want to keep that experience as a memory on their skin.”

It’s true that Costa Ricans have a strong attachment to nature, and part of the pura vida philosophy entails cultivating a connection to the Earth. Spending time outdoors is an important part of life here, with many locals frequently visiting beaches, forests, mountains and rivers.

Around the time when the pura vida phrase started spreading, a series of laws and policies were created in Costa Rica to protect forests. The country of 51,100 sq km (less than one third the size of Florida) holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and more than a quarter of the territory is protected land. In 2021, the Republic of Costa Rica won the Earthshot Prize launched by Prince William for restoring nature.

To see if I could find pura vida in nature, I headed to Chirripó, the country’s tallest peak at 3,820m.

After only a few hours of sleep at a nearby hotel, the hike started at 03:30 am. It was still pitch black as we started up the trail and the clear sky made the sparkling stars look unreal. I used them as an excuse to pause and catch my breath. The path through the national park was much harder than I anticipated, but I remembered the advice I’d been given by my friends: to enjoy every step.

Chirripó National Park is named after Cerro Chirripó, which at 3,820m is the highest mountain in Costa Rica (Credit: Pavel Tochinsky/Getty Images)

As the sun rose, the forest was so still you could hear a single leaf fall to the ground. I stopped to close my eyes and let the peace envelop me. I felt relaxed just listening to my own breath. Halfway to the basecamp we paused at a small shop for agua dulce (a hot brown cane sugar drink) and a cheese tortilla. As we rested, capuchin monkeys played in the trees, throwing bromelia plants at us.

When we arrived at base camp I met Merlin, a local guide who lives nearby in the countryside. After exchanging our worries about the weather, I asked his views on the saying. “Pura vida is the essence of life. For me, it really defines our culture, our feelings, and lifestyle,” he said. “We live in a peaceful country without wars or an army. I think we are a happy culture, always smiling, friendly and trying to be of service to others.”

Of course, he was generalising, but I understood his point. As we talked, the sky got darker and it began raining. He said it was a shame because on a clear day you can see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean from the peak.

I kept hoping that by the time we reached the summit the weather would clear up, but it didn’t. The wind was strong and cold, and I could barely see a metre ahead. Frustrated, we headed back. Lunch was quiet, the air heavy with disappointment.

Later that afternoon we decided to walk in a different direction, to another landmark called the Crestones, a striking rock formation. As we reached the top, the sun came out and with it the most beautiful and complete rainbow. As I stood there in awe, I understood that life isn’t what we imagine or plan. Life isn’t perfect, it just is, and there can be beauty in that. I finally remembered that pura vida is about being happy with where you are right now and approaching the world with an unwavering attitude of gratitude.

In the end, I didn’t have to go searching for pura vida because it was everywhere on my trip: by the ocean at a friend’s wedding, sitting in the garden with my family, shopping at the farmer’s market and even at the highest peak on a cloudy day. As Sánchez had said, “Pura vida is a way of living life.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that more than a quarter of Costa Rica is protected as national parks. This has now been fixed.


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The cheapest plant milk to make at home

Plant-based milks have skyrocketed in popularity. But they’re still more expensive to buy than cow’s milk. Lucy Sherriff explores if it’s cheaper just to make her own.

I often like to say that I was drinking plant-based milks before it was cool. I’ve had a dairy allergy my entire life, but it used to be pretty hard to find dairy-free alternatives – the only option I had for my morning cereal was a particular brand of soya milk – a thick and slightly sweet grey liquid. It didn’t bother me because I never knew any different.

But how times have changed! The choice of plant milks is now intimidatingly large. Along with their popularity has come controversy too, including an EU-wide ban on giving products dairy-like names

This popularity is partly driven by consumers’ growing preference for more sustainable food and drink choices. “They’re attractive to people who are concerned about climate change and want to lower the carbon footprint of their diets,” says Aviva Musicus, adjunct assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard’s T H Chan School of Public Health.

Producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk and it uses nine times more land, a 2018 study found. 

Despite their explosion in popularity, they remain substantially more costly compared to dairy milk. Coffee shops often still charge extra money for dairy-free cappuccinos, and in US supermarkets plant-based milk costs an average of $7.27 (£5.73) a gallon compared to $4.21 (£3.32) a gallon for cow’s milk. (This is in part due to dairy farms having an exceptionally efficient supply chain simply because they’ve been around for so long).

And just because they don’t come from a cow doesn’t mean plant-based milks have a low impact on the environment. “Not all plant-based diets conferred the same health and environmental benefits,” says Musicus, who conducted research on the impacts of plant-based diets.

Almond milk, which is the favourite dairy-free option in the US, has a particularly bad rep. California produces 80% of the world’s almonds and one single almond grown in the state uses 4.6 litres (one gallon) of water. The way almonds are conventionally farmed is also bad for bees. There are also problems when it comes to rice and coconut milk. Rice is a water-guzzling crop, and there can be ethical problems in the coconut supply chain.

So it’s over to oat, hemp and soy, which are all more environmentally friendly options.

But our dietary choices are partly influenced by cost, and if plant-based milks cost more because of the process and packaging involved, then could the problem be solved by just making it ourselves? I set myself this sustainability challenge and was surprised to find that evenwhen making milk at home worked out to be more expensive than buying milk in store, I actually really enjoyed doing it – and it was incredibly easy. I enjoy being in control of where my food comes from and what goes into it – and this felt like one step closer to that.

I tried making oat, soy and hemp milk – the three most environmentally-friendly plant-based milks (Credit: Lucy Sherriff)

The wild card: hemp

I decided to experiment with the poster child of the hippie community: hemp. It took a little extra effort to source – I had to go to a big supermarket rather than my local one – so when it comes to convenience, hemp is not your friend. I’ve always found hemp milk to be watery with a strange aftertaste so I was curious to see if I could get a better flavour by making it at home.

The answer was, not really. Next time I’ll try adding a dash of vanilla extract and a couple of dates to balance the earthy nutty taste. But it was very easy to make – unlike most nuts, no straining was needed. I added the seeds, water and salt to the blender and whizzed it for one minute.

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The cost? The 32 fluid oz (950ml) of hemp milk cost me about $6 (£4.73). To make this amount of hemp milk, you need 4oz (113g) of hulled hemp seeds, which costs $4.50 (£3.54). So, in this case, it does usually work out cheaper to make your own – especially if you buy the seeds in bulk.

The tastiest one: almonds

I didn’t go out and buy any almonds – they cost about $12 for a 10oz (280g) bag – as I felt using what I had in the cupboard was in the true spirit of sustainability. They were roasted, which added an extra je ne sais quoi. I had to soak the almonds in water for a minimum of six hours, so they went in the fridge overnight. The next day I blended the soaked nuts and water for a couple of minutes. Then I had to squeeze my nuts. The recipe called for a nut bag, which I do not own, so I settled for kitchen towel. I squeezed the mixture through the kitchen paper, and it got messy. Next time I’ll invest the couple of dollars to buy one.

The almonds made just under 700ml (23floz) of milk. The cheap almond milk costs about $4 (£3.15) for 32floz (950ml), the fancier stuff comes in at $7 (£5.51) for 28floz (829ml) so it’s decidedly not cheaper to make your own. Although it is far tastier than the milk I buy from the store – it was richer and didn’t have this weird aftertaste that I find most almond milk has.

Trusty and reliable: oat milk

This is the one that I was most looking forward to because my household gets through oat milk by the gallon. And I don’t like that a lot of oat milks use xanthan gum or oil – the thought of pouring oil over my cereal weirds me out – in their recipes to get the milk to that creamy texture.

I did a lot of research on this one because I had heard horror stories of gloopy slime. Oats are sensitive. Rolled oats must be used – none of those quick cook or steel cut types. And the key for the perfect texture is ice cold water – heat makes oats starchy and gummy. There’s no soaking involved, and you actually shouldn’t wring oats out like one does with almonds – that’s how they get slimy and grainy. And don’t over blend! Just 30 seconds should be enough. I didn’t need a nut bag, I used a sieve and it worked just fine.

You need to add ice cold water to make your own tasty oat milk (Credit: Lucy Sherriff)

The organic oats I buy cost $11 (£8.7) for 16oz (450g). This recipe called for 4oz (113g) of oats that made almost 24oz (710ml) of milk (you do lose some in the straining process). The oat milk I buy costs $6 (£4.73) for 64floz (1.8l), so it’d cost me $8.25 (£6.5) to make the same amount. It wasn’t cheaper to make it myself, but I enjoyed using organic oats and controlling what went into the milk. I liked the result so much I even made a second batch, this time with dates – and then another load with a pinch of salt. My favourite was the final sweet-and-salty combination of dates and salt. I have ambitious goals of branching out into chocolate or vanilla oat milk.

I’ll admit it was a fun experiment, and I very much enjoyed tailoring the taste with pinches of salt, or a couple of dates here and there. I love cooking though, and as it was an experiment it didn’t feel like a chore. It’s also nice to know that if I bought in bulk I would be saving on packaging and I’m definitely open to experimenting with other “milks”. Perhaps I’ll try peas next time – although I’ve heard pea milk tastes rather grassy.

But I can’t imagine rushing around in the morning meticulously measuring and blending because I forgot to make milk the night before.

Carolyn Dimitri, a food systems economist at New York University, agrees. “I think [plant milks] are easy to make at home,” she says. “The trade-offs: you need time to make the milks at home, so you would need to factor in the time cost in addition to the money cost of the ingredients. In general, people value convenience and so I can’t imagine the typical person would be willing to make plant-based milks regularly.”

The most compelling reason for making plant-based milks at home, Dimitri continues, is what drew me the most – homemade milk doesn’t contain additives such as gums and thickeners.

As always, it comes down to whether it’s more time-efficient to make my own, or just add a carton of oat milk to my trolley at the supermarket. But it’s the perfect choice for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

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