When I was 12 years old I was told that I had to give up dairy. I was told that my body had an intolerance to it. Of course, I thought that was totally unfair and whined all about it to my parents. After all, dairy was in a lot more products than one might think.
I couldn’t have popcorn, cereal, nachos, grilled cheese, and (probably what I missed the most), pizza.
Due to this, I was unable to give up dairy for a while, unable to find substitutes for the things I really enjoyed. After all, it’s not like any places near me considered dairy allergies.
And the meager substitutions I could find didn’t taste the same. My sister’s ex-boyfriend once tried to get me a pizza with fake cheese. However, it was foul. It tasted so obviously fake. As if someone put spray-on cheese cardboard.
The substitutions I found were either vile or I was somehow allergic to (for instance, I couldn’t drink almond or coconut milk because of my allergies either, couldn’t have many of the meals out there supposedly catered to vegans.
After the pizza experience I lost hope that I would be able to give up dairy. How could I when the foods I loved had dairy in it, and no substitutes tasted good? Or because of the lack of options for me?
I tried though, but trying to quit cold turkey like my doctor advised was difficult, and I ended up breaking it and having cheat days multiple times. Then in 2020, things started changing.
As if it were fate, one day there was a flier on my doorstep that advertised a new pizza place. At first, I thought it was just another generic pizza place, like the 6 we have in the town already.
But I realized after skimming the menu, that they had vegan pizzas. Unlike the fake sprinkle of cheese pizza I tried years before, this pizza actually looked almost identical to an actual margarita pizza. Naturally, I was curious and brought it up to my parents.
We ordered it later that week and I was taken aback by the taste. I had no idea how they did it, but it tasted like a real margarita pizza I had in the past.
Even my family had positive things to say. My sister didn’t even know it was vegan when she came downstairs to try it with us. When I told her how she liked the vegan pizza compared to regular pizza, my sister exclaimed with surprise, “I like this as much as real pizza. Let’s order another one.”
We ordered it a bunch of times since everyone liked it. After that experience, I started looking around. I opened my eyes to more alternatives. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough before? Or maybe these products didn’t exist or used to be hidden heavily?
I started to find an assortment of vegan options. My favorite flavor in vegan ice cream, oats milk for hot chocolate and cereal, vegan popcorn (that had artificial butter that tasted as good as real butter popcorn), and etc.
My mom was right when she told me “we found it.” We found the jackpot. She was a big help in finding all of these newfound options.
She got my vegan things at Whole Foods, a local grocery store, where they had a large selection of organic foods for everyone to enjoy. Last year she bought a vegan chocolate cake to try for my birthday and it was delicious.
She even told me that she herself couldn’t believe how some stores had changed. She told me she recalled the selections for vegan diets back then used to be very limited. She noticed that places were starting to become more considerate of veganism and intolerances.
Even my mom’s friend said recently that “it feels like allergies and going vegan is more common now than back then. Which makes sense as to why so many places are considering those kinds of people now.”
It’s true. The general public has seen a change. More places catered to vegans have opened up and more vegan options have been added to existing places. Places like Chipotle and other fast-food chains have expanded their menus to vegan options.
Another place near me opened up at the end of last year called “Freakin Vegan” which had vegan options only. My sister passed by it once and told me she saw their buffalo chicken sliders and they looked delicious. Even vegan mac and cheese that her friend tried curiously and said it was delicious.
Even commercials have advertised vegan products too. Oats milk and chocolate oats milk, even new vegan meat that was being hyped up, expanding the menu further. There are places that sell vegan acai bowls and shakes that use milk with no dairy.
Forget dairy intolerances, the world is now expanding to help those with allergies or any food accommodations. Restaurants now have vegan and vegetarian options that aren’t limited to simple salads.
From gluten-free options and vegan restaurants, people can enjoy what they love and have it taste just as delicious as the real thing. Just like me living with a dairy-free diet. Who knows, in the future, there may be even more variety than now. For those with different kinds of intolerances as well.
And with the new foods being made that are catered to those with allergies and intolerances, more people could perhaps become interested in them and promote more to be made in the process.
My mom really loves my vegan milk and my sister eats the vegan pizza with me when I order it. In the process, they are supporting more vegan-friendly places to be made. And everyone reading this can give these places a try and support the businesses (and maybe switch to a healthier alternative).