I had my first taste of breast milk after a training session at a garage gym. We swap tips and stories and we bond, so when a friend brought a bag of his wife’s frozen breast milk we thought it’d be fun to test the potential benefits to our lifting programs and physiques. I’m not sure whether he ever told his wife that I tried some, and I’ve not had the heart to admit it to her. It was sweeter and more watery than I expected, almost sickly. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was...

I had my first taste of breast milk after a training session at a garage gym. We swap tips and stories and we bond, so when a friend brought a bag of his wife’s frozen breast milk we thought it’d be fun to test the potential benefits to our lifting programs and physiques. I’m not sure whether he ever told his wife that I tried some, and I’ve not had the heart to admit it to her. It was sweeter and more watery than I expected, almost sickly. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was curious.

Bodybuilders will chase any small benefit, and we’re always experimenting with our diet and exercise programs. Breast milk is a poor source of protein but it’s abundant in probiotics and valuable micronutrients such as human growth hormone IGF-1. In a subculture rife with anabolic steroid use, bizarre unstudied pharmaceuticals and animal products such as bull or gorilla testicles, it’s just another supplement. I persisted.

Over time, I began to enjoy the taste. To ensure that the milk was the highest quality, I sourced it from contacts in the bodybuilding community. If you don’t have a local supply, there are websites like onlythebreast.com and eatsonfeet.org; most of their users are women in need of extra milk. But I wasn’t sourcing from those sites or dubious internet dealers. I was a locavore. I consumed only milk from my fellow bodybuilders’ wives or sympathetic female friends. As supplements go, mine was ethically sourced and organic.

In January, the British journalist Julie Bindel contacted me. She said she was writing an article on the trade in breast milk: she wanted to know more about me and my community. I assured Julie that I consume milk only from consenting local women whom I often know personally. But when her article appeared on a British website called UnHerd, she conflated me and my friends with the squalid conditions she had seen in a “pumping room” in Cambodia and the exploitation of pregnant African women by Italian lactation fetishists. She implied we were no different.

Julie is milking it for outrage, and she’s exaggerating too. Any woman who has nursed a child or used a breast pump knows you cannot be hooked up for hours at a time like a dairy cow: there simply isn’t enough milk in the human breast. Julie is a radical lesbian feminist, so she might not know much about raising children. But she’s right about the exploitative and erotic aspects of the business in breast milk — a business my friends and I avoid entirely. The trade is banned on Facebook Marketplace and similar social-media sites, but supplies can still be found. Those seeking an “erotic feeding” experience can furtively look through Craigslist and other online classifieds, or fetish websites such as FetLife.

The fetish community is all about scratching a psychosexual itch. Frankly, it’s a major source of commodification and stigma. Many people react with disgust and revulsion to the idea of drinking human milk, ethically or not. Even the non-sexual, nutritional consumption of breast milk is tarred by association; in our society, everything is sexualized. Mongolia, by contrast, has a rich culture of dairy consumption. There, an adult drinking human breast milk is as normal as a morning cup of coffee. Yet our responsible and ethical consumption is smeared as desacralizing the mother-child relationship. It is particularly galling to read Julie Bindel appealing to piety after a life’s work deconstructing the traditional family.

There are stories online of people making incredible gains using breast milk. This wasn’t my experience. I continued to make good progress with my workouts, and I felt great, but the gains on top of an already healthy lifestyle were marginal. It seems strange to me that something which started off as a joke over a barbecue snowballed into a bodybuilding experiment and then into such close relationships with my friends and their families. The conditions in a Cambodian milking camp or the erotic-feeding fantasies of Italians are not related to what we’re doing.

That said, we are consciously political, and in ways Julie doesn’t like. Bodybuilders skew right in general, and the breast-milk drinking bodybuilding community is no exception. Nutrition, health and a return to nature are among the highest virtues in our subculture, and rejection of the body poison precedes rejection of the cultural poison. Along with physical perfection, we seek to cure the deformities of big business. We want to return to localism and shorten food supply chains, and we’re actively opposed to Big Ag.

We put our money where our mouth is. We pay a premium for breast milk from a woman who avoids seed oils and eats organic food and plenty of healthy fats. To us, this is about improving health and vitality, and building a community. Regardless of whether you feel we’re breaking a taboo, why shouldn’t I be allowed to purchase milk from a consenting friend? To restrict sellers from supplying willing buyers at a fair price would be an exercise in legislating morality — and selectively. Would Julie Bindel oppose male sperm donation or the sale of women’s hair for wigs for cancer patients?

Breast Milk Enjoyer is a bodybuilder from Australia. This article was originally published in The Spectator’s March 2022 World edition.