A Dairy-Free New Year

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Let’s all admit that we make New Year’s resolutions. We may claim that we don’t do that anymore because it never works, or we may call our resolutions “intentions” to avoid the stink of inevitable failure. But it’s natural to use the start of a new calendar year as a time to reflect on our goals and values and to commit to living with more integrity. Especially when it comes to food.

My giving up dairy started with a New Year’s resolution three years ago. I knew I was lactose-intolerant for decades, but didn’t think I could ever stop eating dairy — or would ever want to. Then, during the Christmas season of 2013, I found myself indulging in so much cheese, half-and-half, ice cream, and other dairy products that my guts were screaming, “Help!”

I knew I had to make a change.

This New Year’s Day I’m having a similar revelation. Over the past ten months, since I started writing this blog, I’ve been eating more and more “imitation dairy” products. Every time I come across one of these food science miracles, I tell myself I have to try it “for the blog.” Into the cart it goes. The result is that I’ve been eating a lot of weird processed foods, most of which don’t taste very good (e.g., Soyatoo! Rice Whip) and a few of which have left my gastrointestinal system almost as unhappy as it was before I gave up dairy (e.g., Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese).

So my number one New Year’s resolution is to eat fewer processed foods. Before I put something into my cart — or my mouth — I need to ask, “How many steps away is this food from its natural form?” I suspect this litmus test will profoundly change the way I eat.

What this means for the blog is that I’ll be writing fewer reviews of dairy-free alternatives. (I mean, occasionally I’ll have to make an exception for something like a Dole Whip because it’s just so good. And by the way, I never got a stomach ache from a Dole Whip.) Instead, I’ll be focusing more on dairy-free whole foods and simple substitutions for dairy products in the foods we all know and love.

That’s the goal, anyway. I may just sleep in more and remain fat.

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