Dairy is to Shavuot like sunscreen is to beachgoers. It’s synonymous.
When you hear the word Shavuot you think cheesecake. Indulgent. Delectable. Decadent. At least for those that can eat dairy products.
What if you can’t have dairy products?
For some, a taste of dairy warrants a trip to the emergency room. For others, it messes with their stomach and complicates digestion and nutrient absorption. Some breastfeeding mothers stay off dairy so their infants can thrive and grow into happy, rambunctious toddlers.
What is dairy and why do so many of us become intolerant to it?
It’s important to understand the purpose of milk. Why do mammals produce milk?
Let’s talk composition. Milk consists of three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. The principal carb in milk is called lactose, which is milk sugar. This simple sugar is broken down by an enzyme called lactase in our intestines and converted into energy.
Back to mammals. Mammals are born early and need nutrition that will allow them to grow. They need to grow, develop, and gain weight quickly. Cows produce milk for their calves, goats produce milk, and so do we!
Milk is designed to help both infants and baby mammals grow, develop, and gain weight. Infants are meant to double their birth weight at six months and triple their weight at a year.
All mammals, including humans, can drink, digest, and greatly benefit from milk early on. As we mature, a large majority of humans lose the ability to break down lactose, causing unpleasant symptoms such as gas and bloating (this is known as lactose intolerance).
A staggering 50% to 75% of adults are lactose intolerant. So if you think you’re the only one, you’re actually part of the majority.
Whether you eat dairy products or not, chocolate ice cream, pizza, and all kinds of pasta are still favorites. Nothing’s more satisfying than a cheesy pull or a bite of creamy goodness.
On Shavuot, it’s more than an indulgence. Eating cheesecake on Shavuot is how we celebrate Matan Torah. The Torah is compared to milk and honey. Making dairy delectables is the perfect mitzvah combination of sweet and dairy. Another reason we eat dairy on Shavuot is that when the Jews received the Torah, they had to keep a kosher home and didn’t have kosher slaughtered meat.
Bottom line is, every holiday is connected to food, and Shavuot is no exception.
How can I have my milk and eat it too if I’m off dairy?
You want to indulge in all that’s yummy on the Shavuot table, yet you can’t. Fortunately, with all the substitutions out there, there’s plenty you can have.
1. Sliced Cheese
A popular favorite is Daiya cheese. It’s a brand that sells “cheese” in a variety of flavors and styles. It’s vegan and 100% dairy-free.
Make your favorite pasta, nachos, pizza, all with incredible melty flavor. It melts like cheese, it tastes like cheese, it looks like cheese, but it’s not cheese. Unbelievable, I know!
2. Cream Cheese and Sour Cream
3. Ricotta Cheese and Dips
If those aren’t enough options, try out Kite Hill products. They have a full array of dairy-free, vegan products made from almond milk. Beyond the basics like cream cheese and yogurts, they also sell ricotta cheese, dips, kids yogurt tubes, and lots more.
So far, we can have our cheesecake, pizza, pasta, and nachos with sour cream and eat them too.
4. Milk and Creamer
Wait! What about coffee!? The most important meal of the day. What can you use in place of milk? (Black coffee just doesn’t make the cut, ya know what I mean?)
Well, the options are aplenty. There’s almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc. The most popular and well-liked milk substitution is coconut milk, followed by almond milk. And of course, Gefen Oat Creamer is perfectly suited to your coffee mug.
Whip up your favorite iced coffee. Prefer your coffee hot? Nothing says comfort like a hot latte.
If you like the simple things in life and all you need is your yogurt with some fresh berries and a bit of a crunch, you’re in good luck. Almond milk yogurts and cashew yogurts are one of the many options available in your local supermarket.
6. Ice Cream
Last but not least of the essentials – ice cream! Nothing says self-love like a big bowl of ice cream. Drizzle some chocolate add some sprinkles and it’s a date. (Me and my ice cream.) Dairy is good, but so is Tofutti Ice Cream, So Delicious, Trader Joe’s Soy Ice Cream, just to name a few. There are so many options to choose from to have your fill.
7. Nutritional Yeast
Now that all the basics are covered, it’s always nice to have a little something extra. Extra flavor, extra healthy, and an extra fun food variety.
Now, this is one product that has a nutty savory flavor that mimics that cheesy taste we all crave. Use it in a “cheese” sauce for pasta or sprinkle it on popcorn or vegetables. You can also use it to turn your avocado sandwich up a few notches by sprinkling some on top.
What’s this magic product, you ask? Nutritional yeast, of course.
If you’ve seen it before and were never quite sure what to do with it, you’re welcome.
Try it out and add some variety to your palette.
Although milk products are good, they’re not always good for you. But that doesn’t mean you have to go without all your favorite Shavuot treats. Have some cheesecake, coffee, pasta, pizza, quiche, you name it. With the multitudes of products out there, there is no room left for self-pity.
Roll up your sleeves, get to work, prepare the best feast ever, and indulge. For more on how to live on a dairy-free diet see HERE.
Most importantly, make sure you enjoy the holiday with true joy!
Goldy Buxbaum is a copywriter who helps businesses reach more clients by combining strategy with web writing. Check her out on Linkedin to see how you can gain from her services.