I know I keep harping on about this vegan thing, but it’s something I’m conscious of lately, it’s often at the forefront of my mind. You know how when you’re just learning how to do something, you have to think about it, nothing is second nature? That’s how it is for me still. Vegetarianism was like that too for a while, but it became automatic eventually, and so will veganism. It will just take time. For now though, living vegan feels like one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, commitment-wise. It’s not that it is difficult to eat vegan generally, but it is tough (particularly as a new vegan, I think) to keep it up, day after day. Especially when it means missing out on foods you love, for which there doesn’t seem to be an adequate replacement.
Don’t get me wrong – as a vegetarian and now as a vegan, I’m discovering so many new foods and food combinations that I enjoy. Check out my StumbleUpon favourites if you want some examples! Most of the foods I’ve given up were never very healthy for me in the first place. Some I ate more often than I should have. Overall, I think I’m better off as a vegan, although I’m not experiencing that wonderful, bouyantly healthy feeling many new vegans brag about. I wonder if that’s because it’s been such a slow transition for me, and the non-vegan things I did eat weren’t chock full of dairy and eggs. I have been on mostly soy and oat milk for years, so I guess it wasn’t such a shock to my system, like it was when I first went off drinking milk. I had to do half cow/half soy for a while to allow my body to adjust. I got there, and soon only ate a few non-vegan things.
But those few non-vegan things I did eat! Most I’ve since given up without much concern (such as ice-cream or custard), but there are others that have been more difficult – cheese for example. It seems to be the universal vegan stumbling block. This has, however, worked in my favour regarding cheese. Since everyone finds it tough to get over, there are lots of recipes and ways around it, advice, suggestions and commiserations. There are some other things that seem to be more unusual though, and I’m actually finding those more of a struggle.
Milo, for example. For those of you who don’t know, Milo is a chocolate ‘energy food’. It’s something like chunky Nesquik or Ovaltine, but with the vitamins of Sustagen. You add it to a glass/mug of cold or hot milk (non-dairy, in my case), and stir it in. Unlike other chocolate milk powders, it doens’t entirely dissolve in cold milk, but also leaves a moist, chocolatey, slightly crunchy top layer of ultimate tastiness. Milo is low GI and provides a bunch of vitamins, minerals, iron and calcium. It’s brilliantly tasty and I’ve been eating it all my life. It was pretty much my stand-by for whenever I wanted a chocolate bar but didn’t think I should have one. Milo gave me the flavour without all the bad fat and sugar. It also helped ensure I got my vitamins and minerals. At work, I was known for having a giant tin of Milo on my desk. I heard more than my fair share of Milo and Otis jokes.
Unfortunately, in addition to the malted barley and cocoa and sugar and other fabulous ingredients Milo is made from, it also includes milk powder (just a little bit), so it’s not vegan. That means no more drinking Milo. And since this doens’t seem to be a global phenomenon, there doesn’t seem to be a comparable vegan alternative. At the moment, I’m drinking Akta-Vite, which does the trick for vitamins and minerals, although not so much with the sugar, taste and texture. (As a colleague said, it looks like little chunks of rat poo. It does, fortunately, taste better.) It’s not the same though. Akta-Vite dissolves completely (except for random chunks left at the bottom of the cup), so it’s not a good replacement for cold Milo. As a hot drink, it tastes a bit like Horlicks (who came up with that name!?). Malted, but not so chocolatey. I know I can drink hot cocoa, but it doesn’t solve my vitamins, minerals and sugar problems. And what about a cold drink?
I am out of ideas! Aside from drinking Akta-Vite (which I’m doing), making my own inferior batch, or somehow convincing Milo to go vegan… what can I do?
And if, as I suspect, there’s nothing I can do… how on earth do I get over it?!