I’ve always known I was lactose intolerant – the doctors told my parents when I was still a baby and I graduated to soy instead of cow milk. I sure did not need anyone to remind me about it, my body had its not so fine ways of telling me if I attempted to have some milk. Not that I liked it anyway, I actually always thought it smelled and tasted horrible. I would fancy a bowl of cereal at times though, or a cup of hot chocolate, but my guts would literally rebel soon after. The pain and bloating were real, and would last the whole day.
Knowing all that, I persisted with my yogurt and cheese consumption; I felt they did not affect me. In fact, I seemed to have equated lactose solely with milk. Fast forward to a couple of years back, I was diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), which I still have not healed from but seem to have under control as I am more aware of my triggers. One doctor advised me to quit dairy altogether; just because I cannot feel the effects of cheese and yogurt does not mean they do not affect me. That made a lot of sense, especially with the all the talks of associations between dairy and inflammation, which I have been trying to keep at bay.
So I cut them out of my diet, but have been grieving the loss of cheese the most. There’s something so addictive about it. I have tried different forms of plant-based cream cheeses but I was not impressed, and resigned myself to cheese-celibacy so to speak, occasionally torturing myself with whiffs of the lasagna I make for my family or caving in on really rare occasions.
It’s only when you surrender in acceptance that you find that which you are yearning for. In the cheese context, that came to me in the form of Carolina, the Dubai-based vegan cheese maker. A beautiful board presented her cheeses, from sun-dried tomato, chili, and charcoal to more familiar blue, Camembert and truffle flavors. They even looked exactly like the real ones. I went on a tasting frenzy and I was star-stricken; they were amazing.
Needless to say I put an order the same night. I received them the next morning and had the best breakfast I’ve had in ages, no exaggeration.
If you live in the UAE and want some vegan cheese, check out Grawtitude by Carolina, you won’t be disappointed!