At the supermarket till waiting to be served, the lady behind me comments to her friend, “Is everyone in Nairobi now supposedly lactose intolerant?”. Her comments no doubt ignited by the array of nut based milks in my trolley.
For the record, my dairy free lifestyle was not sparked by a lactose intolerance diagnosis. It was a personal choice dictated by the increasing uncertainty surrounding the milk value chain in Kenya. A newspaper article warned that local and international dairy industry stakeholders had raised alarm over the high aflatoxin and antibiotics residues.
After trying various options, Soya, Oat Milk, Rice Milk, Almond Milk etc, I have settled on Hazelnut and Almond Milk. Soya initially held a spot in my pantry but there seems to be a back and forth controversy surrounding soy that has left me on the fence.
My top challenges going dairy free are:
Cravings: I must say, adapting to a dairy free lifestyle has been much easier than I imagined. The only true craving that persists and haunts me is “Ice-cream”. I have tried almond milk ice cream and sorbets but it is not the same. I am talking of driving miles just to get a soft serve or gelato cone type of craving. Occasionally the intense craving for rich full bodied creamy Ice cream still gets me, after all, I am only human.
Cost: This factor has hit hard the most. The average price of nut based milk in Nairobi is Kshs 400-500 (USD 4-5) per 500ml tetra pack. Using it for tea, smoothies and cooking translates to a monthly budget of over Kshs 6,000 (USD 60) per person per month. My friend likes to joke that the dairy free craze can only be realistically sustained by single people, as translating this to a household budget is expensively obnoxious. One can actually make their own nut based milks at home, however, am yet to jump on that bandwagon.
Food choices: Going dairy free necessitates conscious food selection. Picking meals at restaurants and reading food labels becomes a task. Explaining your choice to your life circle is another task. The journey is worth it but not without its hassles.
Calcium and other supplements: No specific deficiency elements has crept up on me, however, reading the numerous medical and non medical articles on the dairy free lifestyle can lead one to total confusion. Resolution, have a annual check and test to evaluate any nutrient deficiencies that can be restored with diet changes or supplements. And of course this means more $$$ that is not covered by insurance.
All in all challenges are present but non unbearable, all worth the effort towards a healthy body!!!
Have you gone dairy free? As usual, would love to hear from you ….