Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor

Posted June 29, 2011

Published in Food

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I'd Like to be Vegan ... But I Just Can't Give Up Dairy!

Read More: dairy, dairy substitutes, switching from vegetarian to vegan, vegan, vegetarian

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After I give a lecture, the number one comment people make to me is, “I’ve been vegetarian for years, but I just can’t seem to give up dairy!”  If this sounds like you, read on. 


I always joke that, before becoming vegan, my four food groups were Swiss, Havarti, Cheddar and Chocolate.  As soon as I went to college and began making my own food choices, I naturally gravitated to all things dairy – Melted Cheese Hoagies, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Macaroni and Cheese, Fettucine Alfredo, Frozen Yogurt with M&Ms on top…  I know how much you love your dairy!


Yet when you face the reality of what dairy cows must go through to produce dairy products, it becomes hard to look yourself in the mirror and still eat them.  Many vegetarians explain their dairy consumption by saying, “Well, the cow didn’t have to die to give me this cheese.”  However, if you think about it, at least a beef cow has a short life before it is slaughtered in terror; the dairy cow lives about 5 long years of misery and pain in inhumane conditions … and then she is slaughtered in terror. If she had a conscious choice, I expect a dairy cow would prefer to be slaughtered early than to live out her days in such pain.


Others try to justify their dairy consumption by saying, “It’s just a small amount of creamer for my coffee,” or “It’s just a little sprinkling of cheese,” but the fact remains that we vote with our wallets:  Every time we choose a small amount of creamer or a little sprinkling of cheese we are directly responsible for the pain and misery of these animals.


Laurelee Blanchard is very familiar with the atrocities that happen in factory farms, dairy farms and egg farms.  As the founder of Leilani Farm Sanctuary, she has made it her life’s mission to teach people about farmed animals, and encourage them to start loving the animals and stop eating them.  She has kindly provided most of the following information on dairy cows. 


Dairy cows on large factory farms are typically housed indoors or on dry feedlots year round and lactating cows are often kept restrained in tie stalls or stanchions. Most dairy calves are removed from their mothers immediately after birth. The males are mainly sold for veal or castrated and raised for beef. “Bob veal” calves are killed as soon as a few days after birth; those used to produce “special-fed veal” are typically kept tethered in individual stalls until they’re slaughtered at about 16 to 20 weeks of age. The female calves are commonly subjected to tail docking, dehorning, and the removal of “extra” teats. Although they don’t reach mature size until at least 4 years old, dairy cows first give birth at about 2 years of age and are continually bred again beginning about 60 days after each birth. Each year, approximately one quarter of the cows who survive the farms are sent to slaughter, most often due to reproductive problems or mastitis. Cows can live more than 20 years; however, they’re usually killed at about 5 years of age, after roughly 2.5 lactations.




If the anti-cruelty laws that protect pets were applied to farmed animals, many of the most routine U.S. farming practices would be illegal in all 50 states. Disregard for farmed animals persists because few people realize the ways in which these individuals are mistreated, and even fewer actually witness the abuse. Once aware, most people are appalled.




I think we don’t want to face the cruelty of the dairy industry because we don’t want to give up our favorite foods.  Once you realize that most of those foods are still available to you under new brand names, you will realize what all vegans do:  Being vegan is actually easy!  Shifting away from dairy products and toward healthier, cruelty-free foods is easy – and tasty – with so many amazing alternatives available today.  I defy any skeptic to make a grilled cheese sandwich using Daiya brand cheese with Earth Balance buttery spread, or scoop up a helping of Coconut Bliss Ice Cream for dessert. 







Look for these types of vegan products and more at your local health food store.  I highly recommend going to a good health food store (as opposed to a national grocery chain with a health food section) and asking the staff there what the best-selling vegan products are.  They will be happy to steer you toward the brands that customers and staff rave about.


If you are vegetarian and would like to go vegan, but feel overwhelmed, I offer you a challenge:  Commit to being vegan for just 30 days.  During that time, you will find vegan dairy substitutes, learn to ask for vegan entrees at restaurants, and learn to pack your own food if you need to.  For more assistance, you can look for my book, Vegan in 30 Days, which will step you through the process day by day.  Once 30 days has passed, you’ll realize – like the rest of us – that being vegan really is easy!  Yes, you can be vegan!


5 Comments | Leave a comment


It's a lot more costly to eat the products mentioned. Earth Balance 5 times as expensive as Gregg's or store brand margarine, for example. Daiya, about 4. It's expensive to be vegan, unless you only eat from scratch.


Regarding cost, while some vegan products are more expensive than the non-vegan ones, we need to remember also what vegans are NOT spending money on. In my area (Florida), Publix supermarket had these sale prices this week: NY Strip $7.99 lb; Porterhouse and Beef Tenderloin both $9.99 lb; 12 oz pack bacon $4.99...of course, chicken, esp. leg quarters are cheaper, but most meat eaters often buy the steaks and bacon.

Also, costs of meat eating, for many, go far beyond the grocery store--these costs often arise when people enter their 50s or even sooner: heart bypass surgeries for clogged arteries is one example. I was raised in Florida on Southern food: fried pork chops and fried chicken, gravy, beef roasts, collards with bacon grease--I am very familiar with the foods that many in my family still eat. But 5 of my cousins have had multiple bypass surgeries; I'm 60, have been vegan over 10 years, and am in excellent health: low bad cholesterol, high good cholesterol, and low tryglicerides (fat in blood).

So, as for cost, I'm not buying meat, and I'm not having to pay deductibles for doctors, hospitals, and surgeries, and I'm paying the cost in personal pain of those surgeries..even more importantly, I am not allowing non-human animals to pay the price in pain and death when their flesh is totally unnecessary for my good health.


Good point. I agree that vegan products can be a lot more expensive. But this can actually benefit your health! If you stick to whole foods (dried beans and rice from the bins at the grocery store, etc) you will have an extremely healthy vegan diet. If you save the Coconut Bliss and Earth Balance and Daiya Cheese for special occasions, you'll have exceptional health!

One quick tip on getting fruits and veggies on the cheap - go to your local Farmer's Market, or if you have one in your area, Trader Joe's. The regular price of Trader Joe's organic spinach is $0.40 less than Safeway's conventional spinach in my town!


If the alternatives are not easy to get, you can preach as much as you will, it won't stick. People will make the switch when they get something better in return.
I prefer Vegenaise to any greasy tasting Mayonnaise, because it is just better. We use Coconut Ice creams, because they just taste better and also stay creamy and manageable after opening. I tell in my blog, that I once was home without Soy creamer and made my own Almond Milk mix. The result created something like a cappuccino foam which was superior to coffee milk. Today I forgo any in between coffee for my own mix. This is how it works!
Still, I am looking for a good replacement for cheese. I grew up in Cheese country. There are so many varieties and ways to use cheese and unfortunately I haven't found alternatives that really do the trick. If I buy cheese I only buy goat cheeses. I replaced parmesan in some recipes with ground walnuts, other flavorless cheeses with tofu, but the real melting cheesy ones, with the stinky cheesy flavor, I haven't found a good replacement that does not taste rubbery or artificial.
Also when you are posting recommendations, please be location sensitive. I have seen people raving about local vegan cheeses that were unfortunately not available anywhere else in the country, and I thought New York had variety…


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