Got Milk(ish)? 08/25/2010
Even before becoming a vegan, I began to exclude dairy from my diet. I had heard a lot of conflicting research about it's value versus harm, and since my stomach wasn't thrilled with it anyway, I eliminated it altogether. I thought it would be difficult, and at times it was - wine with great cheese and hearty crackers or a cheese course in an elegant restaurant were hard to resist at first - but now I don't miss it much at all (and I surely don't miss the side effects!)

There are times when a dairy substitute is something I do want though, and I've found some really nice alternatives.

For starters, I love coffee. I'm basically addicted and ironically, I only drink decaf! I don't love sugar or artifical sweeteners, but I do like something dairy like with a touch of sweet. For a long time I only used Silk vanilla (or chocolate) soy milk. I find the taste relatively good, but at times it becomes almost powdery in hot liquid ~ in cereal it's far better.

About a year ago a friend turned me onto Almond Breeze almond milk. It's light, sweet (but not cloyingly so - I am not a fan of coconut milk for that reason!) and is really similar to the skim milk's I used to use. Just a few weeks ago she told me about hemp milk. Ok - insert joke here - but it's good! I prefer the almond personally, and you have to shake the hemp well before using it, but the Pacific brand of hemp milk is a natural source of Omega 3 and 6, and also includes calcium, vitmain d, b12 (essential for non-meat-eaters) and riboflavin. I haven't tried rice milk yet, but maybe that'll be next! If you have, post your comment and let me know what you think.

As far as cheese goes, I've disliked most of the ones I've tried, and Veggie Slices have casein, a milk protein, so avoid those! I just found Daiya - deliciously dairy free mozzarella ~ it says so right on the package ~ but it really is good, and it actually melts well. Just the other day I boiled cauliflower in equal parts vegetable stock and water until fork tender. I drained the liquid, added a half cup of daiya, and mashed it. It was really tasty...When I make mashed potatoes, I boil only in water and add a touch of Smart Balance "butter", a little soy milk and a some Tofutti sour's so good you'll forget it's vegan!

My other great vegan cheese find is Parma! Vegan Parmesan by Eat in the Raw, Naked Nutrition. It's ingredients on the package read: raw organic walnuts, red star nutritional yeast, celtic sea salt & love...seriously? Between the title, the company and the ingredients, how can you resist?

Veg and the City