Friday, 28 August 2015


If you read last weeks blog you'll know that I am on a quest to try and eliminate dairy from my diet. This is not as part of a vegan diet, or because I am intolerant to milk, but simply because I am appalled that dairy cattle are artificially and forceably kept pregnant, not to mention pumped with drugs to increase their milk yield substantially. And did you know all veal, which I have never eaten, come from male calves born to these dairy cattle?!

So since last week I set myself two challenges to begin with: find a milk alternative for cereal and tea, and a cheese alternative.

First the milk. I knew of almond milk long before I started this, so that was on the list from the start. Sourcing one unsweetened was not difficult, as it has become very popular, and there are many brands to choose from.

I chose four other milk alternatives; rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and a mix of almond and coconut.

Straight away I found the two coconut varieties, well, too coconutty! Even the mixed one had too much flavour. It isn't that I don't like coconut, it's just that the flavour dominated everything I put it in. As a drink on its own the mixed one was OK.

The almond milk on its own was pretty foul, but I have discovered that not all brands are the same and that making it yourself is very easy. At this point though almond milk was off the menu.

Next up was rice milk. The look of this product is very thin in colour. This was the only one I tried in tea and it didn't colour or flavour the tea at all. It has a naturally sweet edge to it but in overall flavour it was not much different to water, and in cereal I just found that grim.

The final product was hemp milk. Oh boy, my hat off to anyone that can consume this! OK, so the clue is in the name, but I never expected it to taste like actual rope! This was the only one I actually spat out.

At this point I thought I was defeated, however, I decided to venture into Edinburgh city centre, to a wholefood store called Real Foods, to see if there was any other solution. The staff were great and most agreed with my findings. The products I had bought were sold by supermarkets and thus lower priced which was reflected in the quality. At least that was my own deduction. I then found an almond milk mixed with rice milk, made by a company called Rude Health. Without overstating it, this was delicious. A winner at last, and I have used it every day in muesli. Result. Plus it works out at only 12p more than a litre of dairy milk.

None of the milks were any good in tea, but I have found a soya milk sweetened with apple juice that works OK. I'm not a fan of soya milk, but in tea its fine. You can't use it in instant coffee as it splits, but recently I have been trying soya latte at my local coffee shop, and its pretty good. The sweetened version takes the soya edge off the taste, and it has also led me to reducing the amount of sugar I put in my tea.

Quest two was cheese. This was in some ways hilarious. At first it never occurred to me for some reason to start with the Real Foods shop, and I ordered three items online: cheddar, blue and mozarella. The look and texture of these "cheeses" was like set plaster! The flavour was quite easily the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. They all looked identical as well; an insipid grey wheel of plaster!

But, you guessed it, a visit to Real Foods led me to a product made by VioLife. They have quite a range, but I just tried cheese slices first. Not a product I normally buy but good enough for the experiment. The flavour could have been stronger, but I found no real difference between this and dairy cheese slices.

I love pizza but will now revert to making my own, which I used to long ago. VioLife make a mozarella alternative specifically for use on pizza. It's popular, so out of stock a lot of the time, but I'm looking forward to that experiment. For now though the injury to my arm from my cycle accident has left it weak, and so the ability to knead pizza dough is a few weeks off yet.

As for butter, well I rarely ate butter before, and mostly stuck to olive oil spread. One thing I have noticed is that milk powder is in a lot of products. I bought a box of crackers yesterday, and not until I was home did I discover one of the ingredients was milk. In the UK allergy labeling is very good, and if a product has milk in it, then the manufacturer must state it on the ingredients list, so spotting it in the future should be easy.

So far so good. Time will tell how it integrates itself into my life.

Next quest, pizza!!!

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