Lactose intolerance is not often a precedent to veganism. Why should it be, after all – not being able to consume cow milk and its derivatives does not equate to the inability to consume any animal based produce at all.
Still, however, the needs of vegans and lactose intolerant people often coincide, because our diets consist of a lot of dairy.
So here are the things to look (out) for and accept, when it comes to dairy and veganism.
There are plenty of alternatives nowadays
Oat milk, coconut milk, all kinds of nut milk; plant-based ground “beef”, vegan cheese, margarine… A lot of those have existed for a long while; new things are getting created and sold every day, because veganism is no longer obscure and unpopular.
You don’t have to make painful sacrifices in order to enjoy some vanilla ice cream – you can get vegan ice cream in a lot (if not most) of the stores, and even numerous vegan eateries across the globe.
Most coffee shops also have some sort of vegan milk, too – don’t be scared to ask for vegan alternatives.
It will still be delicious
Yes, you read that right!
There’s a lot of stigma surrounding vegan kinds of milk, cheeses and meats. Meat eaters claim that it tastes gross, while veganism aficionados claim that regular animal produce is revolting.
Neither is entirely true. Some things, like vegan “beef”, may require some getting used to. There’s a wide variety of vegan cheeses to choose from, so that you can find one to your taste.
Milk is even simpler. Not only is there a wide variety of these, too, so if you love a glass of warm milk before bed you will be able to find something that suits your tastes; but, also, if you’re a person like me, who only has milk in their coffee, milkshakes and dairy derivatives, but never just straight up milk as is, then you won’t even notice the difference.
I’m serious. My lactose intolerance awoke when I was 20, so I switched over to almond milk. I was ready to hate it, and to force myself to get through my latte with pain, but… I didn’t. I even asked if they were sure they gave me almond milk, because the coffee didn’t taste any different.
Just be aware of the nutritional value
It’s always important to know what you’re consuming, whether vegan, vegetarian, on a diet, just eating normally or whatever else.
For instance, there are actually more calories in soy and oat kinds of milk than there are in skimmed cow milk – so in the case if you’re simply looking into cutting down on calories, go for unsweetened almond or cashew instead.
A sudden higher intake of soy, additionally, which is the base ingredient of a lot of plant based foods, can result in your estrogen suddenly going off for seemingly no reason, so you have to look out for that too, and maybe opt for some other kinds of milk.
It is generally important, for people just simply changing their diets, or for people going into full-on veganism, that the nutritional values of the products you used to eat and will eat from then on are vastly different. That isn’t, necessarily, bad or good – but be aware, and be ready to compensate for it.
Lactose intolerance can develop with age
Whether you had a predisposition that awakened too late, or your body just got tired of being bombarded with lactose, this fact remains a fact – lactose intolerance may suddenly show up when you’re 20, like it did for me.
I was really upset at first, because I cannot live without dairy; then I realised that I don’t really have to live without it, when I can simply substitute for the cow milk and dairy produce.
Thank you, vegans that pushed veganism into the mainstream, because it is so much easier to find dairy-free dairy (however ridiculous that sounds) these days that it was even five years ago. And I wasn’t even lactose intolerant five years ago – I just notice things.
Quite obviously, lactose intolerance can be of different degrees – from slight stomach rumbling to full on vomiting and fever, so it’s up to you how to deal with it. In addition, there’s a range of medicine – like LactAid – that helps you deal with lactose better.
Still, however, why bother with stomach ache and/or additional medicine when you can switch to a different milk, with only a tiny change in the budget? (A 1L bottle of whole milk is 80p, while a 1L bottle of almond milk is £1.80)