Last year I set two mini-resolutions (new habits).
The first was to hand-wash my personal dishes every night. Rom and I alternate making dinner, and whoever cooks also cleans up, giving the other the night off. However, after work, I stack containers from my work-lunch-bag next to the sink. They join my breakfast dishes waiting there since morning. Then I pile on dishes from evening snacks (maybe bowls I used for pretzels and grapes). Then they sit there until the next morning when I need some of them for my work lunch again.
When Rom moved in, he was personally affronted by this. He washes his personal dishes every night without fail. If I leave mine by the sink, he feels as if I’m leaving them for him to wash!
I actually have another motive – I don’t like to wash dishes under running water or fill up a sink with water for just a few items. So I rinse them and wait until I have a sink full to wash.
We do use the dishwasher but we only have enough to run a full load about once a week, and I need my work lunch containers sooner than that! I suppose I could buy many duplicates of my favourite lunch containers and put them all in the dishwasher!
So, out of consideration for Rom, I now wash my own personal dishes every night. I would say I’m at 6 days out of 7. Not sure why it isn’t automatic by now – something in me is resisting!
The second new habit was to stop automatically using hot/warm water every time I rinse something under the kitchen tap. I thought, why use more electricity to heat the water when cold would do? This was less successful. The cold water feels like it hurts my hands. Our cold water in winter is really cold. In fact. I’ve heard we shouldn’t use it for a “cold water wash” for laundry because it is too cold! (The water is supposed to be over 15C for clothes to get clean, apparently). So whenever I rinse dishes or wash produce, I try to make do with cold, at least momentarily.
Of course I could use kitchen gloves, but that is such a big production – as long as I have to put the gloves on, I might as well actually wash those dishes, haha!
This year I will continue on with my habits since I’ve made good progress.
I am trying a somewhat bigger challenge this year. Rom and I have been “vegetarians at home” for over 7 years now. We are occasionally flexible about it, but have stood fast with not buying and preparing meat at home, and not trying to make up for it by ordering meat-based meals at restaurants. This is mainly due to environmental concerns. However, I consume a lot of dairy and we both eat eggs. Rom has always drunk soy milk so I’ve decided to give it a go. I’ve always known the the dairy industry is bad for animal welfare but I’ve always managed to overlook it out of convenience for myself 😦
I have tried various plant “milks” and I’ve chosen not to go with rice, cashew, almond or coconut because they are all very low in nutrients compared to cow’s milk. Locally, it seems only soy milk is supplemented with vitamins D and B12 to the same level as cow’s milk, and also has high protein. I have read that oat milk is best for the environment (there are also oat milk brands grown and prepared in Canada) but I haven’t found a brand with the right taste for my purposes yet. To wit, cow’s milk is quite sweet with its lactose, but the Canadian oat milk brands are unsweetened, and quite bitter in coffee or cereal.
I’ve been using soy milk in cereal and coffee (even lattes) for about 3-4 weeks and have become quite used to it. I have 3 or 4 flavoured black teas I can drink without milk, but regular tea with soy is impossible. It has a taste that interferes with the taste of the tea. Debating if I could just give up “regular” tea.
I have tried 3 kinds of non-dairy yogurt substitutes. The first two, one almond and one coconut, were “set” with gelatin substitutes and were nothing like the creamy yogurt I’m used to. Happily, the Silk brand was good. I am wondering if having things like chia puddings could wean me off yogurt.
I have no idea what I am going to do about cheese. I would normally have cheese to eat by itself, not just for cooking. I didn’t get off on a good foot with Daiya but next to try is the local brand Fauxmage!
Similarly, I am fine with scrambled tofu instead of eggs, and have no issue with egg substitutes in baking, but what about hard-boiled? We do buy free-range, local organic eggs…
If all else fails, I will pay up for organic dairy, even though I know it is a half-measure.
In all, I have a lot of decisions to make about how committed I am and what I’m willing to give up. Meanwhile, if you are a vegan reader of this blog, please be patient with my small steps. I am trying to think of the dairy switch as a series of small habits so I won’t get too intimidated and quit.
Do you have any new habits in mind for 2020?
Dishes are a constant struggle for me 🙂
We have tried tons of dairy free products because of L’s dairy allergy so these suggestions may help . . our favorites in no particular order:
Kite Hill ricotta cheese
Field Roast Chao slices
Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese
Earth Balance “butter” spread
So Delicious yogurt
Kite Hill yogurt
Primal Kitchen salad dressing
Tessemae’s salad dressing
Tofutti Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ben & Jerry’s dairy free ice creams
or try The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook if you want to try homemade versions of dairy products. For a cookbook of meals, our favorite is Minimalist Baker Everyday Cooking. I think the enchiladas and lasagna are the best recipes in the book and you’ll never miss the dairy!
Great to hear from you, Amanda – Happy New Year! I like the idea of trying homemade versions and recipes, so I will check out those books. I have seen some of the brand names you listed: Tofutti, Earth Balance, So Delicious and of course Ben and Jerry!
Hi Dar… I am dairy free due to a medical issue. I have had good luck with cashew based cheeses… they are usually more like a spread (like Boursin) rather than sliced cheese. This area is booming and I think we will see a lot more options soon.
My husband is insistent that his black tea requires milk, so we can him a very small ultra filtered milk (like the size you could put in a lunch bag).
Thanks for the cheese tip! We have dairy cheese in the house and will use it up before switching to non-dairy. I’ll let you know how it goes! Since I like flavoured black tea without milk, I think I could do without regular black tea. We’ll see.
I own chickens – they are pets only but we do eat their eggs. Here is what I have learned from owning chickens.
Chickens are going to lay the eggs whether you eat them or not. Eggs are a good source of nutrition and therefore if they are going to lay them anyway you might as well eat them.
The best thing we can do is source our eggs from places where they are truly free range during the day and locked up safely at night time.
If you can source them from a local who owns chickens for the love of it and they are spoiled pets like mine – mine get all the treats all day long in return for keeping the yard free of scary spiders – then that is the best way to get your eggs. Second best is a farm dedicated to giving the chickens the best life possible.
Chickens are here for a good time not a long time. If the owners are giving them the best life possible and will dispatch them quickly and humanely when the time comes, they’ll have had an awesome chicken life. 🙂
My oldest chicken is nearly 10 years old now. She is much adored and I will be greatly devastated when it is her time to leave us. She does lay a few eggs a year but certainly on a regular chicken farm she would not be earning her keep. The day she doesn’t want to eat her tomato and blueberry treats, that will be the day I know it is time to let her go.
Hi Snoskred, Happy New Year! I like your perspective. Makes perfect sense.
I but non dairy milks for a few reasons – they are shelf stable. But also my meal plans often recommend them (namely almond). I did for a while have shelf stable milk that had lactose removed by some process…
I bought cheese for nachos recently, and took the excess to my parents, knowing I’d not use it. I have sliced cheese (from when they went away, and I took their fridge items so they could leave their fridge to air) and I’ve still not eaten it, and… let me assure you, it’s been a while!
I also haven’t bought eggs in a while – this is related to your other ‘habit’. I’m over trying to wash the unseasoned frying pan. I did season it this year but it didn’t last. Plus, in summer, I prefer other things for breakfast – like yoghurt. I have NOT enjoyed the almond based yoghurts, but can tolerate the coconut ones, but they aren’t ‘tart’ enough sometimes.
In any case, I’m not actively seeking to be vegan nor vego, but I’m ok with reducing what I eat of animal products – it’s no big imposition. I do like ice cream though there is a plant based ice cream place on the road I work on though!
Hi Sarah, I can relate. Rom makes scrambled eggs in the microwave in a glass dish, with a bit of olive oil. They turn out great and it’s easier to wash up! I am guessing tofu or egg substitutes would turn out fine too.
If you like the sweetness factor of milk and want something non-dairy to put in your tea, you might try Silk brand coffee creamer. It’d be much closer to the flavor you’re looking for.
Also – just a tip – even though you say you’re not wild about coconut milk, it makes absolutely fabulous creamy hot cocoa. 🙂
You didn’t mention butter in your dairy reduction, so it may not be an issue for you, but I’ve found Nucoa brand non-dairy margarine to work quite well for cooking, popcorn-making, and baking. 🙂
Thanks! I am finding that regular soy milk separates a bit when heated which gives it a kind of “scalded” look in one’s latte! I tried the So Nice Barista bend which is formulated just for that reason, with better results. Quite expensive but I only make lattes on the weekends. I have seen the Silk brand and I will try their vanilla and hazelnut flavours!
I am not much of a butter fan and Rom already buys Becel vegan margarines. I use olive oil for making popcorn. Is that weird?
With two still mostly at home, we have enough to fill a load of the dishwasher. Different story when there is only the two of us. I think if the boys finally move out I will get a dish drawer – the one drawer dishwasher.
Have not found a milk substitute that is like milk. Good luck with your search.
I did not know there was such a thing as a dish drawer! That would be perfect for us, too!
I know what it is like trying to change one’s food choices. Due to food intolerances I have in the last year and a half altered my diet in a radical way. I have not only gone lactose-free, but gluten-free, and fructose-free. In Australia there is this thing called FODMAP-free in which every letter in the word FODMAP represents a certain “bacteria” in food (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols). The journey has not been easy, but I did it, although I am in the process of reintroducing foods that are low-FODMAP, just so as to expand my options, improve my tolerance, and nutritional value.
Hi Vera, I am sorry you are dealing with severe food intolerances. I used to follow a blog by a FODMAPper but they have stopped posting. I sincerely hope you find what works for you!
Thanks, Dar. Yes, I am sure with perseverence, I shall eventually return to a normal diet.
I eat organic dairy – it is the safest kind to eat so that the antibiotics fed to ordinary cows doesn’t affect you through the food chain. I do not like any substitutes and would never go for the meat substitutes as it is the taste and texture of meat I do not like in the first place, but it is the same with dairy.
If I were to cut down I would eat only a little organic butter, rather than the spreads, a little organic cheese and a few organic eggs, plain organic yoghurt and I would swap out the milk for almond, oat or similar.
As a note of caution I would be extremely careful of increasing any soya products – it is not all good and can block the Thyroid from working properly giving you more problems. I am not allowed much soya as it blocks the uptake of my Thyroxine medication. Tofu, tempeh and miso (fermented soy) are better products but some of the meat / dairy substitute products contain isoflavones, which act like oestrogen in the body and since many breast cancers need oestrogen to grow it can pose a breast cancer risk. There has been a marked increase in the number of Thyroid cancers and breast cancers and soy has been thought to have a role in this.
I think eating natural food is far better than the made or processed substitutes – if you cannot live without them just eat less of them but keep it natural and keep it organic. Thats my advice for what it’s worth!
We just wash the dishes after every meal – no dishwasher here other than DH!
Hi Vivien, I did some of my own research on soy but we may have reached different conclusions based on our personal situations. Luckily I don’t have a hypothyroid condition and I have no reason to think that moderate amounts of soy would cause one. My conclusion on soy and breast health is that soy milk, tofu, tempeh and miso are safe to eat in moderation but adding the more processed and concentrated soy products on top of that could be too much (e.g. soy protein powder, TVP and soy meat substitutes). Rom has soy meat products occasionally but I prefer the vegetable and bean based ones, or seitan (I have no issues with gluten). I am sure if I ever got breast cancer, as a healthy person to begin with, my loved ones would be desperate to figure out “the reason” and they would probably blame it on soy. I figure by consuming a minimum of meat, alcohol, etc. I am probably doing much more good for my body than soy is doing bad.
Hi Dar – I know you will have researched any changes you are making and I fully agree with your conclusion to eat the tofu, tempeh and miso etc where this is eaten in countries like Japan they have very low rates of breast cancer so could have very beneficial effects and be the reason for this. Like you say it is all the soy processed products I would reduce too as it is contained in so many processed foods now from cakes and crackers to meat pies and infant formulas to bind, retain moisture and bulk out as it is cheap and can be grown genetically modified so we are actually eating quite a lot of it maybe without realising.
I think one of the problems is that research always uncovers the good and the bad and then leads us into confusion. I firmly believe in all things in moderation, and eating more of what you know to be safe and beneficial and as nature intended.
Surprisingly I was never hypothyroid until they removed my Thyroid altogether – the cancer grew without causing any hypothyroidism which is scary in itself as there was no indicator there was anything wrong until it was serious. However my Thyroid cancer is thought by the specialists to be linked to radiation exposure.
Dairy is one thing I would love to give up but I LOVE all things dairy, just not sure if it’s what is causing all my stomach issues?
I love all dairy products too, and they have always agreed with me. Lots of dairy to round out a veggie diet has worked well. I am concerned for the environment and animal welfare. If I can’t resolve this, I will go for local and organic dairy products, but I will give it a good try first. I wouldn’t assume one type of food (such as dairy or gluten) has suddenly ganged up on you and ruined your stomach. Unfortunately, so many family physicians are not well-informed about nutrition. It makes us want to diagnose ourselves based on what we read on the Internet! My concern is that when people eliminate a whole category of food for a long period of time, even if it was not the culprit, it can be hard to add that food back because a sensitivity has been created. This happened with Link – they couldn’t afford to buy milk for a couple of years after leaving home, and they are now permanently lactose-intolerant (not just milk but all dairy). On the other hand, if dairy causes symptoms for you and other foods do not, your body knows best. Good luck.
Great post 🙂
Thanks – Happy Travels!
Since black tea is one of my greatest daily pleasures–and as my British mother always said, only foreigners drink it without milk–I continue to use organic skim milk in my tea. My only other beverage is water, so not giving up a splash of milk in my tea. 🙂
In your situation, I would not feel the slightest twinge of guilt!
Tim and I were just having a conversation about the dishes. I’m just like you!
Regarding diet, I’ve been vegetarian for almost 11 years and cheese is a tough one to replace. Kite Hill cream cheese is pretty good but most brands are awful. I love Silk Soy Milk and the Silk Almond creamer is delicious too. Good luck with the transition and well done for any changes you make.
Thank you, Tina, I appreciate the encouragement. It will probably be about 2 weeks before we run out of dairy cheese, so I have yet to cross that bridge!
We used to eat a lot less meat. Then I had the baby & started breastfeeding & went dairy-free temporarily (in case diary was causing my baby’s gas issues). I was constantly so hungry and it seemed like meat was necessary to satiate my appetite. For 2020, I want to shift back to a diet that has much less meat. For environmental reasons primarily, and maybe a bit for health. I am not ready significantly reduce dairy yet, but I see it as the future. I care less about the “organic” label and more about a humane/sustainable label (which isn’t actually a label). There is probably a correlation, though.
We’ve gotten into a much better routine with nightly dishes (maybe I’ll post about this), but we run the dishwasher at least 4 times a week. Yes, I have multiples of my lunch containers and such. I handwash some of LOs things because it seems silly to buy even more multiples of things she will only use a couple of years (sippy cups, a plate that suctions to the table).
Line drying more clothes would be a good habit for us to start.
Good point about humane or sustainable products. There are lots of local farms that are not fully accredited organic but have equally good practices.
I just commented on your last blog post about line drying clothes – it depends so much on the climate where you live and the amount of time you spend at home.
Gosh – 7 years as a vegetarian! I remember reading the blog when it was still relatively early days on that journey. How time ticks away and now you can look back on such an achievement. It makes me realise that changes habits is lots of small tweaks to start with but soon enough can be a decade-long lifestyle change. Dishes are still the bane of our life here…! Intrigued to read the issue of the coldness of the water and also the 15C concept with laundry. Happy New Year and look forward to following your journey with switching to dairy-free!
Thanks, Fiona. As you know I am not a true vegetarian because of my key exception – I will eat meat if it is served at someone’s home, because how is it helping the environment if I leave it on the plate? But meals out are often potlucks or serve-yourself-style, so it’s not too much of an issue. Mostly my vegetarian ways are an accumulation of habits, and reducing dairy should be the same.
Not a new thing but a work in progress with my diet: I was working towards a lower meat consumption but found that my body suffers when I consume sugar and carbs, so in reducing those, I had to increase my meat consumption to keep myself full at least until I get my feet back under me. I’m starting to find some balance again so I can start to reduce our meat consumption again.
It’s important to do what works for you. It’s great that you’re open to changing your habits when your health changes.