There are always so many questions when you become a first time vegan or vegetarian. My favorite is: Can you have milk? Because the answer is yes, just not cow’s milk. Always throws a few people off. The word “milk” is a process not really a product anymore. So start thinking of milk as a verb and the things that make it up as the all important noun. According to the Free Dictionary “milking” is to draw or extract. You can milk your bank account or you can milk a tree of its sap. Either way this is milking.
As a once omnivore, the common misconception of “milk” is the kind of the “whole cow’s milk infused with vitamin D” variety. We all know the red containers. I grew up on those red containers with pictures of missing kids on the sides. However, now we have so many more choices. Almond Milk, Coconut Milk (canned or drinkable), Hemp Milk, Goat’s Milk, Lactaid Milk, Soy Milk, and the list goes on. When you are lactose intolerant your only concern should be the lactose. You aren’t allergic to all dairy just this one part of dairy. Lactose is basically milk sugar or “whey”. Stay away from any dairy products that have sugar in them and you should be golden. As for cheese, the stinkier the better. The aging process gets rid of the sugar and thus the lactose (check the nutrition label, see… no sugar). That is why your belly would say okay to sharp cheddar and no thanks to fresh mozzarella. Next, there are the people who are Vegetarians. They eat dairy so never think that something marked vegetarian is dairy free. You will have to look at the label. Lactose intolerant people can eat lactose free or non-dairy items with those labels. However, Vegans must be even more careful. Dairy free means just that. Lactose free means just that as well nothing more. However this can be confusing for vegans. Sometimes there is “casein” a cow milk based protein in a food labeled as dairy free or lactose free but that does not mean its a vegan item. So beware.
Reading labels is a key instrument in keeping yourself on track no matter what food allergy or choices you make. I am a vegan and that is both my choice and my allergy. My step kids and husband are lactose intolerant and so we do lactaid for them and that is also their choice and their allergy. Going vegan is extremely awesome but I think knowledge is power when it comes to food. If you have an allergy, address that first and don’t feel the need to go straight to veganism or vegetarianism. You will have enough on your “plate” (no pun intended… okay pun intended) without adding another layer of things to remove. If you feel connected to the cause or want to do more for your health though, please do go forward. If you need help. Email or comment on this page. I read everything eventually and respond to everything. I want to be your resource in this crazy journey of eating better for yourself and the world. So enjoy your food and spread the word. Food is love.
Food is Love.
The Hippie Gypsy