One of the remarks that comes up in conversations about veganism a lot is how many people feel its something they can’t do solely because they love dairy so much. And, being honest, I think I’ve been one of those people who has said that at some point.
Yes, dairy is a real comfort for many of us who grow up on western diets. I grew up in a family where we had a small glass of milk with our dinner every night, and I have other vivid memories of my brother’s favourite snack being a tall glass of milk with about half of a box of Oreos. It was just the norm, we always drank milk. If there wasn’t a gallon-sized jug of the stuff in our fridge, we went into panic mode.
Dairy is remarkable in the way it brings people together. It’s seems like, even if you gather a vegetarian and a meat-lover at the some potluck, they can typically be united by their love of cheese. Most veggie-friendly options rely on cheese to give the dish a sense of identity and a major flavour profile.
But despite this, there are a handful of reasons why people might forgo the dairy in their diets, and never look back.
Some do it to live without the animal products, some because they have moral disagreements with what goes on in the dairy industry, some because they have either an allergy or a sensitivity to dairy, and some just because they like how they feel on a dairy-free diet.
Around the time I was twenty, I discovered inadvertently that I was lactose intolerant. I didn’t get formally tested, I just found every time I had milk, I could guarantee a gnarly stomach ache in a few hours. Reason enough to stop drinking the stuff, I thought.
And I did just that. I quit milk, an impossible task at the time. But within a month, I had forgotten that milk was something I had used to crave.
Giving up milk, and switching over the non-dairy alternatives, was my first endeavour into exploring vegan options. I figured, if I can give up milk, what else can I try alternatives for? I explored the previously untouched world of vegan ice cream, vegan yogurt, and vegan cheese, finding some I really liked, and others I could live without.
Might I just say, we are truly living in the renaissance of vegan cheese. I’m flabbergasted at how many more options there are, and how much tastier they are than they were even five years ago. Bet you never thought you’d read the words ‘renaissance’, ‘vegan’ and ‘cheese’ in the same sentence.
People like to give vegan cheese a bad rep — as with most vegan food — but I wholeheartedly disagree with all of that. Some of the new fake cheese on the market is incredible. Though not available in Canada, Kite Hill creates beautiful artisan vegan cheese out of almond milk, the way its gourmet counterparts would be made out of the milk of a cow. Additionally, I’ve come to prefer eating mac and cheese made with Daiya, it really brings it on the gooey-ness factor.
So, build on your palate. Try some new alternatives to same boring dairy foods you’re used to. You might have a taste for coconut ice cream, who knows?