Any vegan with animal welfare or environmental concerns will certainly condemn the dairy industry for the way it treats its animals and the damage it does to New Zealand waterways and land. However, dairy products are a large part of some recipes that vegans may not want to miss out on, especially desserts and drinks. There are retailers who specialise in vegan products, but the availability in New Zealand may be limited and the price is often high. Fortunately, there are a wide range of vegan alternatives that you can make yourself. With increasing numbers of people reporting an intolerance to lactose and dairy, even non-vegans may find these alternatives extremely useful.
Butter: Butter is primarily used as a cooking grease, and can easily be replaced by olive or rice bran oil. However if you need it for baking (where oil can make recipes too thick and moist), vegan margarine made from sunflower seeds or olives works well. Coconut butter comes in tubs and will need to be softened in the microwave, but this is also a good alternative.
Milk: There are a whole host of vegan milk options available, that are increasingly mainstream and therefore much more affordable than other specialty vegan products. Soy, coconut, almond and rice milk are the most common, and you should try different varieties as they may not all agree with your stomach.
Yoghurt: Soy and coconut yoghurt are the most common kind of non-dairy yoghurts, as they thicken up well. However they can be expensive for small quantities, so if you want something with the consistency and pro-biotic qualities of yoghurt without the price tag, consider soaking chia seeds in your favourite non-dairy milk. Left overnight, you’ll wake up to a thick and creamy dessert-like texture.
Ice Cream: Though there are soy and coconut ice creams available too, you can do so much with just some simple frozen fruit. “Nice cream” is a trend that’s taking the online vegan community by storm, because all you need to do is blend at least 2 frozen bananas with any number of other fruit or flavours, including strawberries, cherries or green tea powder. Add a little coconut cream for extra thickness.
Cream: Canned coconut cream, with a little dash of sugar or your sweetener of choice, can be beaten to form whipped cream that is delicious on cakes, pikelets or other desserts.
Vegan dairy alternatives don’t need to cost the earth, as there are so many things you can make yourself. Look into good quality basics such as almond or rice milk to ensure you are working with the best materials to start with.
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