A Lesson in Failure

October 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) ()

I have failed.

I crashed my way into this dairy-free diet with possibly unwarranted zeal – adamant in my moral superiority, and trusting from my stubbornness and my previous successes in abstinence that this too wouldn’t be that hard once I got used to it. Pride, etc.

Since cocoa powder, and even Cottee’s ‘thick and rich’ chocolate topping is vegan, I assumed that soy hot chocolate would be safe, dairy-free territory. I mentally reinforced this notion with my “home-made” hot chocolates (using dairy-free Cadbury Drinking Chocolate powder and soy milk). I didn’t even think to check when ordering a hot chocolate at a cafe until a friend queried me today. I have had two store-bought soy hot chocolates this month, and I now know that at least one of them was definitely not dairy-free.

So, in spite of all my efforts and good intentions I have been unable to make it one month completely clear of dairy. I’m still going to continue with the trial. And while my failure may be an important lesson in humility, I think it’s also important to recognise that removing any ingredient from your diet is hard. It takes effort, research, constant will, and constant vigilance. Some days, like today, I don’t know how vegans manage. This trial has certainly increased my respect for lifestyle choices of that variety.

I’m curious as to how those that have chosen to eliminate one or more ingredients from their diet cope with a “failure”. Or even with fear of failure. I have found myself getting nervous in restaurants – did I ask all the right questions about the ingredients? Did they definitely hear me correctly? Will I realise if they make a mistake?

This nervousness was not helped by a recent confusing interaction at the otherwise-delightful Le Triskel. I had enquired about dairy-free options upon entering and was assured that the crepes could be made with soy milk (for a $2 surcharge). Our waitress, however, had less of an understanding of English (and I have no understanding of French), resulting in a stalemate where I desperately stared at the menu, not knowing what to say, and she wasn’t sure if I was asking for soy milk to be poured over the top of my dairy-crepe, or a soy latte. We eventually solved the problem with the help of the word ‘vegan’ printed on their menu.

Any tips? Personally, I’ll just be watching this episode of Daria on loop.

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I was promised tea!

October 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm (Diary of a Dairy Addict) (, )

There may have been some whimpering in the tea room today. A plate of leftover catering was sitting on the table – free to all staff in need of sustenance. I was most definitely in need of sustenance. And every single one of those roast beef baguettes, ham rolls, and Mediterranean vegetable pides was brimming with gooey melted cheese or laced with buttery spreads. Sigh.

Work seems to have been the most difficult location for being dairy-free, and not just because of temptations like leftover catering. The general stress (quarterly reporting!) makes me more vulnerable to cravings; yes, whimpering; and affront. On Friday I endured two entirely separate conversations with colleagues that included the handy phrase “As the son of a dairy farmer…”.

I have decided that diets can best be compared to religion – interesting when used as a point of intelligent discussion, rude when used as a way of passing judgment. Great to talk about amongst a community of like-minded people, possibly best kept quiet otherwise. (I’m not sure if these posts are hypocritical, or a reasonable exception under the soap-box clause.) In my offline life I’ve only been communicating the change to people that I dine with, because I feel like they should know why I’m ordering “the bacon sandwich with no cheese, no butter and no… no something else as well”. *

Aside from these incidents it has actually been going well. I’ve discovered that a few of my friends are lactose-intolerant, and dab hands at a rocket, spinach, pear, walnut and cranberry salad. I’ve been assured that the Oreo Cream Pie is well worth making. My daily soy hot chocolate is entirely palatable, if less rich than my old “Choc o’lait”. Porridge made with oat milk is just as delicious as when made with dairy milk. And Arnott’s Raspberry Shortcake biscuits, the closest thing we have to Jammie Dodgers, are vegan. Hurrah!

*actual dialogue from a waitress on Sunday, served with a side of scorn.

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