Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A personal, dairy-free history

Emma's current post about various "granola" products -- and my ensuing list of alternative food shops -- has inspired me to give a rundown of my personal foray into this world, resulting from my non-dairy lifestyle.

I have never liked milk, but loved cheese and the occassional ice cream. Around 1999, my first and last foray into the marvellous world of McFlurries resulted in excruciating pain. This was my first hint that dairy was going to be problematic, but as I could still eat cheese and ice cream without any difficulty, I simply chose to avoid lower-fat milk products since these seemed to cause the most trouble for my digestive system. Towards the end of 2003, I found that I was having problems digesting even my beloved cheese or ice cream dishes, and so, opted to eat these less frequently. The last straw came in late 2003/early 2004 when a bag of Cheetos (Heaven knows there are negligible milk derivatives in those things) resulted in what I have affectionately come to refer to as "milk pain" -- I have yet to experience worse pain than the kind that comes from eating dairy products. Aside from one (unbelievably painful, but emotionally necessary) relapse around June of 2004, I have avoided dairy since then, gradually coming to the point of using non-dairy margarine at home, just to ensure that my digestive system isn't under constant assault by "trace milk ingredients". Seemingly contradictingly, I seek out commercial foods which clearly state that they "May contain trace milk products" as this is a sure sign that the effort was made to eliminate dairy during processing -- it's dairy-free shorthand.

Alterative-food shops are ideal for people avoiding milk products, because they often carry foods that will have, clearly printed on them, "Dairy-free" or "Vegan". Vegan foods do not contain any animal-derived ingredients (even honey!), and to that end, vegan cookbooks have become very helpful to me. My current favourite is Sinfully Vegan: 140 Decadent Desserts to Satisfy Every Vegan's Sweet Tooth because it makes cheesecake attainable for me again. :)

As stated on Emma's blog, my current alternative-foods grocery of choice is the Ambrosia Natural Foods store, about a half-hour walk north of my place. Their selection isn't as diverse as the average Noah's Natural Foods, but it's within walking distance and contains the basics.



At Tue Aug 29, 12:34:00 pm GMT-4, Anonymous Caty said...

Oh, my poor defective sister. Take consolation in vegan carrot cake from Noah's.

At Tue Aug 29, 03:20:00 pm GMT-4, Blogger ghanima said...

Mmm...vegan carrot cake.


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