A friend of mine reading up on veganism expressed dismay to me today. She never realized how much dairy cows suffer for our cheese, milk and other delicious creamy treats. I won’t harp on the details here; that isn’t the intention of my blog. Plenty of info on the heinousness of their existence is out there. Just know that most milk and cheese does not come from happy cows.
Plus, dairy just isn’t that good for you. Full-fat versions are high in unhealthy saturated fat. Dairy increases mucus production and gives 60 percent of adults digestive distress. You absorb calcium from other sources better – so really, no reason to consume the stuff.
Giving up dairy products can be a barrier to veganism, however. “I’ll miss cheese,” “I love ice cream,” “It’s a source of protein.” I have solutions for you! The following is my own personal favorite subs for dairy products. My list isn’t that long because I really try to avoid fake foods – but sometimes, you have to cave:
Got (alternative) milk? I’ve tried many of the milk alternatives out there (not oatmilk, however). I like the cartons of coconut milk (unsweetened) in cereal and coffee. It has a hefty texture and clean flavor. Almond milk is great in smoothies. Soy milk is fine, but has a taste that requires a little getting used to. I also try to limit intake of soy, so I usually use it only when I’m feeling rich and can throw down $5 on an iced latte. I find rice milk watery and rather dismal. Hazelnut milk is utterly delicious, but hard to find and only available in cartons. I have yet to form an opinion of hemp milk…let’s just say, I haven’t bought it more than once. You can cook with any of these options too — but don’t make mac n’ cheese for your kids with coconut milk. At least, not for my kids. Remember most of these milks come in sweetened, unsweetened and vanilla varieties. Don’t make creamy tomato soup with sweetened vanilla almond milk.
You like cheese? You’ll never get a perfect wedge of vegan cheddar – at least, I have yet to find one. But, if melting is your thing – go for Daiya. The shredded mozzarella is awesome on pizza and the cheddar is fine in a quesadilla or on a bowl of vegan bean chili. I recently tried the jalepeno harvarti-style wedge, and assure you it is absolutely perfect in a grilled cheese or quesadilla with roasted tomato salsa. And, if you make your grilled cheese with the plastic-y stuff called “American,” you’ll find this superior.
Ice Cream is a favorite? Coconut milk ice desserts fulfill your every need. I am a huge fan of the Cookie Dough flavor, but any of them will do. Sorbet is another stand-in – especially when you head to one of those yogurt shops and don’t want to sit and watch others enjoying their treats.
Butter? Coconut oil for sautéing – but it does impart a coconut-y smell and flavor which I find quite pleasant but coconut haters may not. You can also use it on toast (I don’t, I prefer nut butters). For baking, coconut oil is what I like best but I know there are vegan shortening options out there.
Yogurt? Alas, this is a toughie. I have given up my beloved Noosa and all things Greek. I have yet to find any alternative yogurt that even resembles the bliss of these foods. Soy – yuck. Coconut – not worth the price tag. Almond – bearable — but not Noosa. I guess there has to be sacrifice somewhere.
What you end up liking really is a matter of taste. I dare you to try some of these options – you may never go back.