As the pandemic brings work-from home orders and a second lockdown here in Virginia, my family and I have been looking for productive ways to spend our time. Like most, we’ve exhausted family game nights, paint nights, and movie marathons, and honestly all of this close up family time is starting to drive us all crazy. The solution: individual hobbies.
My mom has been in and out of the outdoor garden, rain or shine, day or night; tending to her roses and herbs and proudly displaying them in our kitchen. My dad has taken to tackling at-home repairs, specifically repairs to fixtures that aren’t necessarily broke. As for me, I’ve been dedicating my time to naps, Netflix, and when I need to eat- vegan cooking.
There have been exhaustive amounts of research done that defends the health benefits of clean, vegan eating. In a family where heart issues, thyroid and high blood pressure, diabetes, and unhealthy weight gain has been an issue. Especially now that our lives have become more sedentary, as a family we are more open to dietary changes that will benefit our health in the long-term.
As a mostly vegetarian family, making the switch to being vegan was actually relatively easy. The only thing we needed to reduce and find replacements for was our dairy intake. Here’s what we found:
Almond milk bore a unique resemblance to skim milk. A little more on the watery side, with just the slightest nuttiness. An absolute stark difference in taste and texture to oat milk. I found my parents pouring a cup of almond milk (that’s 1.5g of protein) almost exclusively for late night and early morning cereal cravings.
At 0.5 grams of protein per cup, we battled several different brands and varieties of coconut milk. While coconut milk and almond milk are both the most common substitutions at most cafes, the sweeter nature of coconut milk makes it the perfect substitution in coffee. However since it tastes so remarkably like coconut. It can uniquely be used (as we’ve enjoyed numerous times) in pina coladas, Thai curries, and truly anything that already requires coconut flavor.
While flax seeds are rich in fibers and omega fatties, flax milk is incredibly tasteless and has 0 grams of protein to boot. Leaving any usage in it in smoothies or meals as a protein supplement pointless. However, my dad absolutely loves using it in his nighty cereal- even moreso than almond milk.
Given the questionable ethics of soy farming on the environment, we haven’t even tried soy milk. However, we understand Soy milk to be the most common substitute for dairy milk- especially to those who are lactose intolerant.
At 2 grams of protein per cup, we found oat milk to be the perfect creamer to add to coffees, teas, and even soups and smoothies. We preferred to keep our plant-based milk brands non-sweetening, that way we can objectively compare each type of vegan milk- and avoid an unnecessary sugar intake. Oat milk was our go-to substitute for most cooking, baking, and drinking needs- especially when we would eat out. Luckily, oat milk is widely used at most cafes near us
By and far, pea milk was our favorite plant-based switch. Not only the most versatile, but also the most that tastes, to quote my dad, “just like the real thing”. Our go-to brand was Ripple, and in the United States it’s easily found at most grocery stores and boasts 8grams of protein per cup. Given my protein and iron deficiencies, and our goals to infuse as much clean protein, fiber, and omegas into our diet, pea protein in our smoothies, morning chai, and alongside our baked goodies was an obvious choice.
While covid has been stretching everyone in a million directions- work from home, unemployment, sickness, political tensions, mental health challenges- we’ve been able to try to find solace in the fact that as a family we’ve never been afforded this much time together.
Never been able to get to know eachother as vividly as we have, being forced to stay in the same confined space for so long. While our family like many others are struggling, learning to cook healthy has been an activity we’ve enjoyed. It’s how we care for eachother, and we’re excited to continue our plant-based journey as a full unit.