Dairy. Milk, cream, butter, cheese – in fact any milk-based product (not eggs as sometimes mistakenly claimed) – all staples in some people’s diets, but removed from others’ for a number of reasons.
Some people may be allergic, or intolerant, while others may choose a dairy free life for different reasons. They may be vegan (in which case they would not eat eggs either)or concerned about their health.
Lactose intolerance is surprisingly common. According to NHS Direct, 95 per cent of Asian people and 75 per cent of Afro-Caribbean people are lactose intolerant, though this reduces to 10 per cent of Northern European people.
Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose (milk sugar). All babies are born with lactase, but many lose it after weaning, although some populations have developed lactase persistence, where lactase continues to be produced. Without lactase, lactose ferments in the large intestine and produces gas causing nausea, cramps and diarrhoea.
Limiting your lactose intake can ease these symptoms. But never fear, there are plenty of delicious substitutions that you can make. Soya milk, rice milk, almond milk and oat milk are all readily available from health food stores and some supermarkets.
You can get dairy free cheese nowadays too, and dairy free dark chocolate – Green & Black’s does a very nice one. But you can also use tricks like making dairy free hollandaise using silken tofu like our recipe here. It is nice to have a go at making something yourself rather than buying something ready made for you.
If you would like to learn more tricks like this, including deliciously creamy but dairy free puddings, our Dairy free cooking course takes place on 25th January.