My journey to a dairy-free life | The beginning

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Tell someone that you're going dairy-free, and one of the immediate reactions is to think that you're doing it to lose weight or have jumped on a similar bandwagon to the gluten-free mania that we're still in the middle of (is it showing signs of letting up?). I wish going dairy-free would become a "thing" - at least then finding appropriate food would be a breeze. My reason for wanting to go dairy is simple: I'm lactose intolerant.

I've been lactose intolerant since before I can remember: my body simply doesn't produce enough lactase to succesfully break down the lactose, the milk sugar, in milk products, leaving me with a whole range of symptoms depending on what type of dairy product I eat, when and the quantity. It can be anything from hives to lethargy to a bloated, cramping stomach. I've also read theories that lactose intolerance can affect your mood, perhaps not causing, but certainly not alleviating symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. 

So I've decided to use the period of Lent as a spring-board for what will hopefully be an extended dairy-free life. I was raised Catholic so Pancake Day has always also signified the start of a 40 day period where you either gave up something, you ended a bad habit, or you took up something positive. I don't think I ever grasped the spiritual aspect of it, but it was always a great opportunity after the usual fail of New Year's Resolutions, to have another chance at picking one thing you know deep down you want to change and perhaps lacked the courage to do so on your own. 

So today, on the first day of Lent, I am beginning my journey to a dairy-free life.

I know it's not going to be easy; I've tried giving up dairy on and off over the years and always ended up cracking in the face of an enticing chocolate-coated goodness or under the pressure of being surrounded by foods that all contain lactose (I once discovered a fruit ice lolly I bought contained milk - why does a fruit ice lolly need milk?). It's overwhelming. It promises to get lonely when everyone seems to be scoffing their faces with your favourite foods just to spite you and some plain non-supportive comments such as "You always eat chocolate anyway, what's the point in changing? It's not like you're allergic. You ate ice cream just last week". As if the cravings and dairy-withdrawal aren't hard enough to deal with without added negativity.

On the plus side, it promises a life free of all the symptoms, never mind the benefits of cutting out a food that I'm not entirely sure was made for human consumption (I mean, don't you think it's a tad weird that humans are the only mammals that drink the milk of another mammal?). While it is overwhelming suddenly finding yourself with all these new menu choices you didn't even know you could make (and with ingredients you're not sure where to even begin finding), I'm looking forward to the hours I'm going to spend on Pinterest, getting into the super useful habit of meal planning, and discovering new foods as I give up old ones. And of course, I look forward to documenting my journey and sharing with you my discoveries and progress.

Have you ever considered going dairy-free? 


  1. This is really interesting, good luck! I'm a Catholic so I'm also giving something up for Lent, I just haven't decided what yet...
    Hannah x

  2. This is really interesting, good luck! I'm a Catholic so I'm also giving something up for Lent, I just haven't decided what yet...
    Hannah x

    1. Thank you! Good luck deciding on what you're going to give up as well x