September 7, 2010
When BigSis initially told me at the beginning of the year that she had made the decision to become vegan, the first thing out of my mouth was “I think that’s great, but HOW can you live without cheese?”
We’ve always been big snackers/grazers in our family. Growing up, we would almost always snack on some cheese and crackers late in the afternoon before SisMama would start on dinner. I can still remember the white cheddar cheese that our parents would bring back from their trips to Nebraska or our aunts and uncles would bring down to us when they came for a visit.
And when we would visit our Grandmama in the summer, a late afternoon snack was always a freezing cold, slushy, orange Crush soda or Dr. Pepper with a big ole’ chunk of cheese! I think that was when I fell in love with cheese.
I obviously have some very fond childhood memories that revolve around cheese. So, why the walk down memory lane? Isn’t that what you usually do when you’re in mourning? I think that’s exactly what’s going on with me right now.
Some people, like BigSis, make the conscious decision to become vegan, which I happen to totally admire, but then there are those like me, who after 40 something years of eating cheese, are told that they can’t have dairy anymore! That’s not news that’s easy to swallow when it’s something that you enjoy as much as I do!
I’ve lived with a sensitive stomach my entire life and there are lots of things I can’t eat; fried stuff, greasy potato chips, fatty meat, etc., but I’ve learned to live with that. This is going to be a little tougher. It took every bit of will power I had to not get into the gorgeous cheese tray that we had at our Labor Day party on Sunday!
But, after a few bad episodes, followed by a couple of doctors visits, a ton of tests, some medication, and process of elimination, it’s been determined that I’ve become lactose intolerant. Even though it’s not the news that I was expecting to hear, it definitely could have been something worse so I promise that I won’t whine about it too much.
I’m now asking myself the exact same question that I asked BigSis about nine months ago. “How am I going to live without cheese?” I don’t know the answer to that right now, but I do know that it isn’t going to easy.
I’ve already discovered that low-fat vanilla soy milk isn’t bad and Earth Balance buttery spread is actually quite good. BigSis has also given me a few suggestions for “faux cheese” but that’s going to be the real trick; finding a veggie/soy cheese that actually tastes good. My first experiment over the weekend with the Trader Joe’s soy mozzarella didn’t really impress me.
I know there’s medication you can take to ease the symptoms IF you do decide to eat dairy, but for now, I’m going to try to do without it completely to see how things go.
If anyone reading happens to be vegan or lactose intolerant, we would LOVE to hear from you if you’ve found any great cheese substitutes!