Did you know we are the only species to consume another species' milk?
No wonder so many of us cannot tolerate cow's milk well. Around age 5, we stop producing the lactase enzyme which enables our bodies to break down lactose, the sugar present in milk. In fact, more than 80 percent of the world's population is considered lactose-intolerant.
In the animal kingdom, it is highly unusual for animals to continue to consume their own species' milk once they are several months old to a few years of age.
Fortunately, for those of us conditioned to consume cow's or goat's milk and products made from these, we can still enjoy our cereal, lattes, and baked goods with cruelty-free, non-dairy alternatives. There are several non-dairy milks on the market, including soy, rice, almond, hemp, hazelnut, oat, and coconut. These come in organic, unsweetened, plain, or vanilla. Many are enriched with additional vitamins and cost no more (and sometimes less) than dairy milk. You can locate these products in most grocery stores, either on the shelves or in the refrigerated section.
It can be fun to taste-test the different non-dairy milks, finding the ones you like best. Personally, I like using hemp and almond milk in cereal and baked goods. My children prefer soy or rice milk. I often include soy milk in mashed potatoes and coconut milk in creamy soups.
Below is an easy pancake recipe, using your choice of non-dairy milk. This is my family's favorite weekend pancake batter that doubles as a waffle mix. Hope you enjoy it, too!
Vegan Pancakes from the cookbook "Vegan With A Vengeance" by Isa Moskowitz
Makes 6 six-inch or 10 4-inch pancakes
1-1/4 c flour (I favor a combo of whole wheat pastry and spelt or buckwheat)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/3 c water
1 to 1-1/4 c plain non-dairy milk (I like almond or soy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
(You can add a cup of blueberries as a variation, as well as adding a tsp. of ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients. I add about 1/4 cup ground flaxseed and/or dark chocolate chips)
1. Sift or stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients in another bowl.
3. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined.
4. Lightly grease a large skillet and heat the skillet over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.
5. Add batter and cook until the pancake has some bubbles on top and is browned on the bottom. Turn pancakes and finish (until bottoms are browned). Repeat until batter is used up. Grease skillet between pancakes or as needed.