Never the twain shall meet?
March 7, 2018 12:46 PM   Subscribe

My wife has evolved recently into a non-dairy dietary approach. I like dairy: milk, cream for my coffee and occasional ice cream. Soy, almond and cashew milk have an aftertaste I don't like. Help us to remain married with resources that value both worlds. By the way, I don't like kale either.
posted by Xurando to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
buy two smaller containers? My daughter and I drink cow juice, my wife drinks almond milk it's not super complicated.

When we bake we use margarine (which is less tasty than butter, but meh) and mostly non-dairy milk. Very rarely we'll bake something with real milk if it makes a big difference in the finished product. If we buy ice cream we either buy non-dairy or we buy two containers. A little pint of ice cream isn't that much and look, you're going to eat the whole container of Halo Top anyway, so let's just stop pretending.
posted by GuyZero at 12:50 PM on March 7, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'm not sure of the question. Is there a particular meal you're having trouble with? You can keep your own milk products and stay married.
posted by hydra77 at 12:50 PM on March 7, 2018 [20 favorites]

Rice milk is what you need in your life.
posted by TheGarden at 12:54 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm also not sure of the issue? I was a vegetarian living with omnivores for a decade. We just had different things? And sometimes they ate my things? And I never ate their things that had meat? It wasn't very complicated.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:56 PM on March 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

My husband doesn't drink milk. I get around this by buying milk in quarts? Sometimes I don't use the whole thing and some goes to waste, bummer. Unless your wife has an ethical objection to dairy and won't allow it in the house, or an allergy that means she can't risk touching it, I'm not sure what the problem is.

But yeah, if you really can't have it in the house, then rice milk is probably the least offensive of the nondairy milks. Or just learn to go without, you get used to black coffee. (I used to do the "vegan til 6" thing, so have tried many milk substitutes.)
posted by mskyle at 12:57 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is buying items to each of your liking not an option? Non-dairy milks don't come in as wide a variety of sizes, but they last a lot longer in the fridge. And then get smaller sized dairy options for you, if you worry about them going bad. Voila?
posted by raztaj at 12:59 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Buy both.

And put cooked kale into her soup bowl - but not yours - separately, before pouring the broth over it. That works best for most veggies, actually.
posted by headnsouth at 1:02 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

This Outshine non-dairy banana-based dessert is reallllly good if you're looking for a dessert to share. It just came out so it might not be in your local stores yet.
posted by jabes at 1:07 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

My kids are both mildly allergic to cow milk. We buy soy, coconut, or almond milk for them AND lactose-reduced cow milk for my husband. I have a little bit of all of them. We do not make room in the fridge for, say, juice, so maybe we have more to spare than you do.

For cooking, we generally don’t prepare meals at home that involve cheese or cream, since the nondairy substitutes are not well-loved by any of us. We will very often use the milk substitutes in recipes calling for small amounts of cow milk, like in baking, where the overall flavor of the dish overpowers any lingering flavor from the plant-based milk.

You don’t have to eat the same way. It’s fine.
posted by Andrhia at 1:09 PM on March 7, 2018

The question is how can we be collaborative cooks rather than either/or, or separate diners?
posted by Xurando at 1:13 PM on March 7, 2018

Is it a moral issue or a convenience issue? If moral, you can buy your dairy as ethically as possible, something she might be more comfortable with. If it’s just dietary, simply buy two milks.
posted by Vaike at 1:13 PM on March 7, 2018

I don't like alternative milks either, but there are some coconut-based ice-creams I quite like plus there are things like sorbet that usually don't have dairy in them if you want a frozen treat to share.

My partner and I have wildly different diets (the only thing we both consume is coffee and even then we put different stuff in) so we just buy our own stuff, and eat our own stuff. Sometimes we have to negotiate fridge space but it never goes to a place where we are annoyed at each other. Sometimes the milk I buy goes off before I can use it all, that's probably the only negative part of it because I hate the waste. I suppose you could get milk powder for something like this, and only make up as much as you need?
posted by BeeJiddy at 1:13 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oat milk! Best non-dairy 'alternate'.
posted by erattacorrige at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

The question is how can we be collaborative cooks rather than either/or, or separate diners?

Are there specific recipes that you both like, but pose a quandary? With some examples, perhaps we can suggest some modifications to please you both?

I eat dairy, but I am always open to trying alternatives. There are some great non-dairy cheeses available on the market. I like Daiya's jalapeno Havarti as a pepper jack alternative. Great on nachos, crackers, pizza, by itself, etc. Miyoko's also makes some phenomenal products.
posted by raztaj at 1:20 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

You might want to try different brands of non-dairy milks, as they often have a different flavor/texture/sweetness/etc. It's been a while since I bought any of them, but I recall Silk plain soy milk being quite nice and with a good milky texture. If the issue is coffee additive, might make sense to have small containers of both options for you both.

In terms of recipes, there are loads of vegan dairy substitutes (e.g, silken tofu for creamy texture, fake cheese, soy/coconut/oat yogurts, etc.) so you can have meals that suit you both. Might help to pose a more specific question (e.g., seeking recipes) to provide more specific answers!
posted by stillmoving at 1:27 PM on March 7, 2018

I am lactose intolerant and love cheese. Vegan cheese is pretty dope - I highly recommend exploring the world of nutritional yeast and vegan cheese together. Is it exactly like dairy cheese? No. Does it make tasty and satisfying meals you both can enjoy? I think so.
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

The question is how can we be collaborative cooks rather than either/or

The thing is that you can't really make a dish that's both dairy-free and contains dairy. Even if you are cooking together, the dishes you make will have to be either-or. One of you will have to compromise on each dish.

You can maybe split recipes and do them half dairy half non-dairy, but then you're still making seperate dinners. I don't think there is a way to achieve a compromise that doesn't involve separate foods, or else taking turns eating outside of your preferred diets.

Maybe you can skip the recipes that would ordinarily depend on dairy, since you don't like the alternatives. Just omit it altogether instead of using substitutes.
posted by windykites at 1:42 PM on March 7, 2018 [6 favorites]

I don't have much dairy in my diet, especially at dinner, but perhaps you do? For what meals is this a problem? You mention coffee and ice cream which is easy enough, you can each have separate containers and she doesn't have to eat ice cream. If you cook with butter, oil often can be subbed in.
posted by sockermom at 1:44 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

The question is how can we be collaborative cooks rather than either/or, or separate diners?

Basically you no longer eat dishes with cheese or milk. My wife is a almost-vegan on top of not eating dairy (although she eats eggs) and in practice what it means is that we're mostly a vegan household. No meat or dairy in pretty much all cooked meals*. The only time we do separate thing is for pizza night when she'll have a cheese-free pizza (either frozen or homemade) and I'll have one with cheese. You can get vegan cheese but honestly it tastes so-so and it's not all that nutritionally great, it tends to be all fat without any protein at all. But that's a taste thing, maybe your wife will love vegan cheese. But depending on what you cook living without cheese isn't the end of the world.

My suggestion is to buy a few vegan cookbooks - you can always add some meat into any vegan dish if you feel like it.

Oh She Glows
Oh She Glows Every Day
Vegan: The Cookbook

I have all these cookbooks and they're all pretty good.

* So I have an out - I get lunch at work at Big Co which has really nice cafeterias and I can get whatever meat stuff I want at lunch. Today it was an exotic HAM SANDWICH.
posted by GuyZero at 1:46 PM on March 7, 2018 [10 favorites]

Also, don't buy vegetarian cookbooks because man, vegetarian recipes looooove cheese and dairy.
posted by GuyZero at 1:59 PM on March 7, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, many cuisines which have meat can have very little dairy. Personally we cook a lot of Thai and Indian dishes.
posted by muddgirl at 2:12 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Find recipes that don't include dairy in the base, but can have it added individually -- chili that you can add cheese to and your wife can eat plain comes to mind.

Also explore some other cuisines that don't rely as heavily on dairy/meat -- Indian dishes are great for this.
posted by ananci at 2:14 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I'm also not seeing a problem. We have separate milks for me, my wife, and my daughter.

In terms of cheese and butter, the good thing about them is that for a lot of dishes, they're toppings, really. You can add them as toppings on your own dish, while your wife leaves hers plain. Some examples:

-Steak and baked potatoes. The steak is the same for both. I load my baker with butter, sour cream, etc. My wife leaves hers plain or with salt and pepper.

-Burgers. My wife eats hers with just lettuce. I smother mine in cheese, bacon, and condiments.

-Pasta. My wife does sauce over noodles. I'll melt some mozzarella on top.

For other dishes like mashed potatoes, where the butter and cream are integral, you'll probably have to eat less of those.

All that said, it's not really that bad to eat two separate meals. We do it often enough that I don't even think about it anymore. I think all couples have foods they disagree about. I love Cincinnati-style chili, but I'm on my own there. She likes turkey burgers, which I'm ambivalent about. Some nights, I'll make myself some chili and fry her up a turkey burger. Think of it like eating at a restaurant: you don't order the same meals when you go out to eat; why should you eat the same at home?
posted by kevinbelt at 2:24 PM on March 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

I see what you mean; it feels overwhelming at first. My husband and I happily coexisted, and are still happily married, after (an admittedly long) 6 years of a gluten-free, dairy free mixed kitchen. I was GF/DF, he was not. The recipes were never the problem - the problem was how much I missed dairy. We never had a problem or argued about food; if anything he felt bad that I was missing out.

The best solution, to avoid making separate dishes, is to make vegan dishes, and add the cheese separately.

For baked items, this is tougher but it can be done with a tiny bit of research and preparation. 90% of the time, just substitute oat, almond, or soy milk and use Earth Balance for butter. For trickier recipes, google "vegan substitute for X" and you're sure to find something.
posted by onecircleaday at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2018

In a similar household (one of us had trouble with lactose, the other didn't), we had a lot of problems with food, but this wasn't one of them at all. To handle this, we:
-Added our own preferred dairy/substitute product to single-serving things like breakfast cereal - he'd put cow milk or yogurt in his cereal, I'd use almond milk.
-Bought smaller quantities of both dairy products or froze what couldn't be used quickly (like bags of milk)
-Cooked dinners where cheese could be added separately, or focused on low-lactose cheeses rather than dairy alternatives (or I would keep Lactaid on hand)
-Didn't enforce our preferences/restrictions on the other person. It wasn't any of my concern if he were bringing on cheese for work lunches, for instance.

YMMV, but I'd be pretty put off by a partner insinuating that the food I eat for a non-shared meal is a problem for them. Like, it's immature to act like what your partner whitens their coffee or mixes their protein powder with is a buzzkill for you, but to each their own. I don't quite understand what's going on here, but if that's part of the issue, then someone needs to stop enforcing their preferences on the other person, or at least one of you needs to address whether you feel that being connected to your spouse means you eat the exact same things. I don't mean to be overly harsh here, but having individual food preferences shouldn't hurt a relationship.
posted by blerghamot at 2:33 PM on March 7, 2018 [4 favorites]

Think of it like eating at a restaurant: you don't order the same meals when you go out to eat; why should you eat the same at home?

FWIW, there are couples where at least one partner expects that they'll order the same or compatible dishes at a restaurant, and will be put off by their partner making a different choice. That's a sort of dynamic that makes handling diverging preferences difficult.
posted by blerghamot at 2:44 PM on March 7, 2018

Tacos and burritos can be made individually with slightly different toppings for you versus her but have most of the meal be the same. You can make a pan of enchiladas and only cheese half of them. There's a lot of things where you can have the same basic meal but your individual servings can wind up being slightly different, and things that involve shredded cheese or sour cream, for example, those are probably the lower-effort portions of the whole meal's setup, compared to prepping meat and vegetables and such. You're still cooking together at that point and you're still sitting down to what feels like the same dinner.
posted by Sequence at 2:52 PM on March 7, 2018

For your coffee or tea: Mini-Moos! Made by Land o Lakes and mostly real cream. They do eventually go bad but I by myself can go through the 192 count box on Amazon in 6 months, by which time the very last five or so go a little clumpy. But that's it! No refrigeration, no sad running out of milk or half-and-half. And they travel well too.

posted by fiercecupcake at 2:54 PM on March 7, 2018

I've been eating a lot of vegan food lately even though I'm not vegan and I've found that a bit of dairy is really easy to add at the end to just my portion:

Feta for things with Mediterranean flavors
Parmesan for things with Italian flavors
Sour cream for things with Mexican flavors
Yogurt for things with Indian flavors
Ice cream for dessert, of course
posted by lampoil at 3:08 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Eating different food is not a moral failing (I had to internalize this, as my parents believed otherwise).

That said, who said meals had to have only one dish? You can have pot roast (dairy free) with buttery mashed potatoes (which you make) and roast Brussels sprouts (which she makes). You'd still be cooking and eating together.

Or just eat non-dairy meals at home and go all out when you dine out.
posted by batter_my_heart at 4:52 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

As far as I can tell food divorce happens to pretty much every couple over time, it's the just nature of the way people change their diets to serve their particular health agenda. Our household has gotten to four separate meal plans (low carb me, conventional light healthy my wife, "eat clean" jock menu for my son, standard teenage fare for my daughter)!
posted by MattD at 5:31 PM on March 7, 2018 [3 favorites]

Kosher cookbooks are another option for dairy-free cooking, since dishes that have meat in them can't have dairy.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:39 PM on March 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dairy causes health problems for me. That means no cheese, butter, milk, sour cream. I miss mac-n-cheese, beef stroganoff, real butter, pizza. I have learned how to cook other foods that mostly satisfy me. Tonight I made polenta with olive oil, pepperoni & green olives. The olive oil gives the polenta a creamy texture, pepperoni & green olives are my favorite pizza toppings, so it tastes good and is similar to eating pizza, but with no weird substitutions. I learned to drink coffee black, though I had to go back to adding sugar. Earth Balance is a good margarine.

When I make curried butternut squash soup, I don't put that dollop of yogurt on mine, but guests can have it. You can eat dairy when you go out for dinner, you can have dairy for lunch at work. You can put cream in your coffee and not wince if she uses soy milk. You can use olive oil in place of butter most of the time. For many baked goods, I use apple cider or orange juice instead of milk (you have to replace the lactic acid that helps things rise). I lost weight when I stopped eating dairy.
posted by theora55 at 6:56 PM on March 7, 2018

You didn't mention cheese, but as a vegetation who eats cheese probably daily, when I hang out with my vegan friends, I always worry that I'll have to pretend I like the non-dairy cheeses they bring. But I never have to pretend. Miyoko cheeses are awesome! If you can find them, give them a try!
posted by greermahoney at 11:15 PM on March 7, 2018

I second kosher cooking. I grew up more religious, so lunch was dairy and dinner was meat. Now that I have issues with dairy, I cook mostly non dairy, and use lactose free milk in my cofffee. Husband and kids are free to put cheese on pasta, have a cheese course, butter up their bread/potatoes/veggies, while I eat mine plain/ salted/ with lemon juice. What's probably harder for them is that after exploring the no FODMAP diet, I gave up all beans, and some other random foods. It's fine.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:20 AM on March 8, 2018

If you're committed to making the same meals, then I would commit to making food your wife can eat (because her diet is more limited) for main meals, and just have dairy stuff around you can eat whenever you like. I'm gluten free and my partner isn't--they make gluten free meals but keep cookies and bagels and bread around for them to eat for side dishes or snacks or lunches or when I'm not there for dinner. With dairy I would do the same thing. Have non-dairy meals, but keep creamer and cheese sticks and cream cheese and whatever else you like to eat whenever you want. I don't think you'll feel particularly deprived.
posted by brook horse at 8:49 PM on March 8, 2018

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