about bliss

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

daily bliss: vegan week: day two: dairy cravings

Yesterday morning I made my second cafe au soy, and poured soy milk over some organic oat and honey* granola. The latter was delicious--better than milk, even; however,  the former was disappointing, tasting nothing like my morning treat. 

Throughout the day, I kept thinking about cafe au lait, and my craving was intense. My crabbiness was fairly strong, too. My mind oscillated between two obsessions yesterday: cafe au lait, and warm weather (we were supposedly having record heat all across Wisconsin--except for the lakeshore, which was 20-30 degrees cooler than the surrounding environs). 

Still, I carried on, making a satisfying sandwich for lunch: toasted honey* sunflower seed bread with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, impromptu guacamole (avocado and lime juice), sabra classic hummus, red bell pepper, cucumber, and salt and pepper. Mmmmm!

Throughout the afternoon I puttered around the house, waiting for the fog to lift and the air to warm up before my afternoon walk. At 3:00 I headed out to the lake, bundled up, but thankfully stripping off my fleece jacket along the way. 

Cafe au lait! Milk! Latte! echoed through my head, but I came home and ate Koeze natural peanut butter on Triscuits (try it! salty, crunchy, delicious.)

After a quick trip to the Pig (yes, we have a Piggly Wiggly in our neighborhood) for a few provisions, I set out to cook up a vegan Mexican feast. Gregg called on his way home from work. "How do you feel about strawberry margaritas? And can I just say that I want cafe au lait in the worst way!"

He's used to my non sequiturs:) 

"I feel good about strawberry margaritas! And I don't see how anything could be bad with that delicious vanilla soy milk!" (he sampled some sraight up the night before, declaring it awesome, and egg nog-esque.)

Grrr. No one was going to put up with my whining about cafe au lait. 

Our Mexican meal consisted of spice rubbed baked tofu (I used a mixture of chipotle powder, chili powder, and a Penzey's spice blend called Arizona dreaming); black bean dip (black beans mashed with lime juice, onion, salt, and pepper); guacamole; sauteed peppers and onions; salsa; and, for Gregg, sour cream. We folded everything into warm flour tortillas. 

But the pièce de résistance was the strawberry margarita, made with lime juice, triple sec, tequila, and last night's strawberry sorbet. The drinks were thick, frosty, tangy, and absolutely refreshing. And dairy free! (duh! who sneaks dairy into a margarita?!?)

I told Gregg that I might discontinue the experiment on Wednesday morning, since the cafe au lait cravings were so strong. 

I mused about obsession, addiction, and pleasure. My morning (and often afternoon) cafe au laits are more than the drink itself--though the frothy, warm, robustness hits the right notes as a day begins and an afternoon slumps. More so, there's a ritual to this drink, in the preparation: using my special pan from mom to heat the milk; grinding a handful of beans; pouring cool water into the coffeemaker; wetting the coffee filter; listening to the happy perk of the machine; smelling freshly brewed coffee; frothing the milk with a small whisk; pouring the right proportion of coffee to milk. 

There's beauty in the simplicity of this ritual. 

And while the steps are all the same with soy milk, the taste is different, and the drink and ritual become less about bliss and more about sacrifice. 

Does this make sense, or am I, as I'm wont to do, overthinking?

*yes, I realize that honey is not vegan if one is strict about veganism. I've decided to give honey a pass in the few prepared foods I have on hand. I am not, however, adding honey to anything.*


  1. Evan K2:12 PM

    There is some debate in the vegan community about honey, so I wouldn't sweat it too much.
    One thing to keep in mind: you can modify your tastes. If you keep at it long enough, you'll get to a point where you prefer soy milk; real milk (and dairy in general - especially cheese) will start to disgust you.
    Don't approach veganism as though it's all or nothing. Just do what you can, day to day, and don't beat yourself up if you still have the occasional bit of dairy. Just weed that stuff out a bit at a time, over time, and eventually, you will reach a point where you genuinely prefer a vegan diet. Trust me on this ...

  2. You can train yourself to do anything - but the question is why? Do you have health issues caused by eating dairy? If not, there really is no reason to give up something (like cafe au lait) that you love. Maybe you only use milk either in the morning or afternoon. Maybe you try to reduce the amount of milk and cheese so that it is something you are aware of, a choice you're making, instead of just something you do.

    I haven't been able to eat dairy since last October, and I still miss it. Vegan isn't for everyone, and maybe having half your meals for a week or one meal a day as vegan is what works for you. Part of eating is pleasure, and being cranky because you want milk is in no way blissful. On the other hand, you might want to consider that casein, one the proteins in milk and cheese, operates in much the same way as heroin (or other opiates), so your body is literally going through withdrawal. It isn't all in your head!

  3. Your meals look lovely :)

    I second Julianna's comment above - I cannot eat dairy because my body reacts to it in a pretty significant way, and I did go through a period of withdrawal after cutting it out and even more so after I reintroduced it and completely cut it out again. It has been almost two years and while i get the occasional cheese craving, I do feel overall like I miss it less. A book that I found super interesting and helpful is Go Dairy Free.

  4. Nancy Chick9:59 PM

    I've also tried the coconut creamers for my coffee on occasion. And I have to say that my body feels SOOO good this week without dairy. I doubt I'll stick with veganism forever, but I can definitely tell that I want to significantly cut back on my lacto-ovoness of my lacto-ovo vegetarianism.