Perhaps the biggest concern of any budding plant-based eater is giving up dairy. Lots of people volunteer that they could give up meat, but the thought of forgoing cheese for any amount of time just makes them shutter, even makes them shun the thought of going vegan before even giving it a go.
Then, there are other dairy-based worries that follow: milk for cereal, yogurt with fruit, sauces with creamy goodness, butter for toast and cheese on everything. Well, I can personally relate. This attachment to dairy, too, was my (and many other’s) last stand, but most of us can also attest to quickly learning that, once giving it a shot, living without proved not so difficult.
What’s more is that, after I felt comfortable in the new diet, the thought of replacing one health concern—dairy—with another—processed foods—wasn’t all that appealing anymore, either. But, you know what, there are a natural ways to solve all of these worries as well, and it is on this topic which we convene today.
The Number One Concern: Cheese
Cheese rides the highest on the charts, and with good reason, it is actually addictive, the sort of heroine of the dairy world. Now, truth be told, there are a lot of vegan cheese options in the stores already, with ever-improving flavor and texture, and many of them are equally concerned with providing a healthy alternative as opposed to just a cheese alternative. However, for those of us into DIY, all-natural solutions, there are a number of good recipes to try.
The typical natural cheese recipe uses pre-soaked nuts, often cashews or almonds, to replicate the creaminess we’ve become accustomed to. Surprisingly, combining just cashews and water, a pinch of sea salt, a shake of pepper and a squirt of lemon juice goes a long way for creating a savory cream cheese that is crave-worthy but not necessarily chemically addicting.
The Easy Fix: Milk/Cream
There are several worries over milk and cream, namely how coffee (or tea) doesn’t taste the same without the “real thing” or how, by the time all is said and done, those plant-based milks are overly processed and just as bad for us (not all of them!). Well, maybe some further exploration is needed.
Plant-based milks offer all the things most of us are after. For coffee, full-fat coconut milk is creamier than cream is creamy. Worried about additives and processing? Homemade plant-based, truly all-natural milks are beyond easy to make, as in one doesn’t even have to be accomplished at boiling water. In short, homespun nut-based milks are milled nuts and water blended together.
The Cultural Collapse: Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has undoubtedly become a go-to in popular dairy treats these days, but those in the know also know that it’s starting to get some bad press, both for environmental woes and health problems. Sure, some people love yogurt, but is it really worth it? Not when there are perfectly delicious alternatives in the store.
Truth be told, some authors, in their former lives, actually aspired to make homemade yogurt regularly and, upon going vegan, briefly gave up the dream. What a fool! Making vegan yogurt is equally as thrilling, simple and natural, including the probiotics if you wish. It’s a simple as fermenting thickened coconut milk for about eight hours and serving chilled.
The Health Problem: Butter
Oddly, butter seems to be on an upward trend in today’s food market. Somehow, in a stroke of marketing genius, the dairy industry is convincing people that butter is the healthy option, all-natural lard of course being the close second. Well, we are not having it, are we people? Butter is not healthy!
Now, there is no denying that excess amounts of oils, required to make vegan butter, are not something to eat all the time either. But, at least, with a DIY plant-based butter, we can choose the healthiest oils that do provide some health benefits. And, again, it’s really easy to make: basically just mixing up the right ingredients.
The Last Ditch: Creamy Sauce
Again, like butter, it’s going to be difficult to make cream sauce an all out healthy choice, but we all dig a good one every now and again, which is our right as post-Paleo humans! But, making a cream sauce doesn’t and never has required cream, milk or cheese.
Vegetable fat, oil or vegan butter, and a bit of flour will do the job. It’s called a roux, and it’s the magic—vegan or not—behind nearly all the Cajun food I grew up eating, as well as the true crux of béchamel sauce and many other classically dairy-heavy sauces.
Are you ready to Ditch it? Tweet “#IMAGREENMONSTER READY TO #DITCHDAIRY!”
Lead Image Source: Konstantin Sutyagin/Flickr