Normally when trying to eat dairy-free (especially when you go out), you have two options: choose a vegan dish or, frankly, suffer the consequences. That middle ground doesn’t really seem to exist. It feels to me, as a dairy intolerant person, that my requirements are not met.
You notice this a lot in mass catering, as it is easier and cheaper for suppliers to provide a meat and dairy option and then a vegan option, which all vegetarians, vegans and dairy-free people can eat. But sometimes, you want to eat meat and not be limited to a vegan choice.
Don’t get me wrong, vegan food can be delicious, but I would like to be able to choose a vegan option if I want to, not simply because it is the only one that meets my dietary needs. I am someone who loves food and wants to have my own food freedom.
It is quite easy and inexpensive to make recipes dairy-free. I found out I was intolerant to dairy the week before I went to university, so I had to adapt pretty quickly. Two years on, I have found my feet in my own kitchen and I wish supermarkets and mass catering would do the same.
Nowadays there are vegan products, cafes, books and TV shows springing up all over the place. This is a great step, as it gives people more opportunities in daily life to follow their own diets. But I personally feel like people who are living dairy-free are forgotten about or simply pushed towards the vegan options. There is no middle ground.
I personally believe that a few simple substitutes are all that is needed. For example, premade sandwiches in supermarkets could be filled with a meat filling, a vegan cheese and oil-based spread, therefore making them dairy-free. Or restaurants could offer to use dairy-free products for certain aspects of a dish, rather than making dairy-free people chose a vegan dish. For example, offering vegan cheese for a cheeseburger or having a soya ice cream on the menu, instead of sorbet all the time. Trust me, people still want to eat ice cream and dessert, even if they’re dairy intolerant (I know I do!)
I hope that, with time, this dairy-free dilemma will no longer exist, as there will be options for people with all dietary requirements, intolerances and allergies. I understand it is easier and perhaps more practical for companies that are producing on mass to have only two options, but there are more than two ways to do things. As suggested, there are some simple solutions that can be made, rather than a total reform being required. Hopefully, in the future, when these dairy-free products become more popular in society, the prices will reduce even more and become more visible and accessible in daily life.
The dairy-free dilemma can be solved. A middle ground can be reached. It is simply a matter of time.