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You’re the Vegan Cream in My Coffee

The following article was written by Leigh-Anne Dennison.

Veganism is largely about getting from point “O” (omnivore) to point “V” (vegan) with minimal disruptions to daily routines and maximum sustainability for this compassionate lifestyle choice.

For some, it is easy to drop ingredients or menu items from their diets, while others may need more time to experiment with alternatives. For example, it was relatively simple for me to substitute agave syrup for honey, raw vegan sugar for the regular white stuff, and vegan cream or milk in my tea (especially in a world where soy chai lattes are now available in many big-name coffeehouses—yum!). Switching out the milk and cream in my coffee has been another story.

Hopefully, my experience and the resulting tips will help you make the switch for life:

  • Read labels. Before diving into the suggestions, it is important to note that many manufacturers call products “nondairy creamers,” but they still contain animal ingredients. The use of the word “nondairy” in the following tips, though, refers to vegan substitutes.
  • Start with a high-quality coffee. Cream (and/or sugar) is often used to mask the acidic, bitter, or burned flavors of cheap or over-roasted coffee varieties. Also, avoid freeze-dried, crystallized “coffees.” Cold brewing also works well to reduce the acidity that most offends the taste buds. If you’re starting with a better coffee, you may need less “cream.”
  • Try light vanilla soymilk as a first step. It is one of the most readily available—and often affordable—types of vegan milk, and it’s carried by the vast majority of grocery stores today. To my palate, the vanilla adds just a hint more sweetness than plain soymilk, making it seem similar to the sweetness of the cow’s milk or cream that most of us are accustomed to tasting in our coffee.
  • Variety isn’t just the spice of life! Nondairy creamers are a matter of personal preference, so experimentation is key. There are a variety of other nondairy milks and creamers on the market today—including almond, rice, and coconut milks. Sales or coupons are a good way to try out a variety of brands before settling on the one that makes your cup of Joe a joy.
  • If never hurts to ask! If you frequent local coffeehouses, you may find that they stock one or more nondairy options now that there is greater awareness of lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc. Even if they don’t now, asking them may prompt some—especially small local businesses—to begin carrying a small supply to meet (your demonstrated) demand.
  • Speaking of asking—ask others for recommendations. At the top of my list is So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer. For me, it hits the mark on both flavor and texture, and I know I’m not alone in favoring it.
  • Finally, flavored coffees are your friends. While not a huge fan of strongly flavored coffees, I have found that it is helpful in initially adjusting to vegan cream options. Choose a subtly flavored variety such as cinnamon, vanilla, or mocha. If full-on flavor-infused varieties are too strong for you, mix half a regular cup with the flavored variety to keep it from overpowering your beverage.

Hopefully these tips will help other aspiring vegans or newbies on their journey to veganism. So far, chocolate vegan milks for café mochas are my favorite, but I’m always on the lookout for other delicious alternatives. Do you have other tips for making the switch? Tell me about them!

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  • Anna says:

    I have shyed away from many dairy substitute creamers because of the multitude of additives and sugars. But I finally found a delightful, all natural, extra-creamy creamer for my coffee – canned coconut milk from the Thai food cooking section! Original, not light. With just a hint of coconut flavor, it taste great and has only one ingredient. I love it!

  • MammasGirl says:

    My mother has rheumatoid arthritis, and in my quest for alternative treatments, I came across a few blogs where people have experimented with giving up dairy products and beef. The RA swelling lessened and in some cases went into remission. My mom is a dairy queen, she loves cream in her coffee and many kinds of cheeses. I am hoping to give her an alternative to using dairy creamers in her coffee. so shes not miserable in the morning and hopefully the RA will become less of a problem for her. Im hoping that she will love the so-delicious milks. if she does then my next quest is a substitute for cheese.

  • Kathleen says:

    I have been a vegetarian for the last 8 or 9 years , but try to eliminate as many animal products as possible, transitioning to vegan( doing the best I can, live with a bunch of meat eaters, and I’m the one who does the cooking, so I never cook meat and there fine with that) but when I first went veg, the non dairy creamer fooled me, I don’t drink milk, and use soy creamer in my coffee and almond milk for anything else, but I used to use powder non dairy creamer in the beginning until I became more savvy to all the bull. It may seem overwhelming at first, but after the transition to vegetarianism I became so interested in food, that I am now a Nutritional Consultant, and I am continually shocked by the BS that is on our food labels.(more disgusted then shocked at this point) Anyways, great article and tips, thanks!! (sorry about the ramble lol)

  • Sharon Atkinson says:

    I have been a vegetarian for 12 years and I am changing to a vegan. My cousin who lived in Greensboro, N.C., died last October 8, 2011 of Mad Cow Disease. I am researching everything I can. This disease is very hushed-up in the U.S.

  • chander kumar soni says:

    so nice coffee.

  • Dazzle59 says:

    I am a long-time vegan and coffee drinker, and I agree with Leigh-Anne that So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer is the best non-dairy creamer on the market. I like the Original flavor (one serving has 10 calories, 0 grams fat and 1 gram sugar). It also comes in French Vanilla and Hazelnut, is ORGANIC (unlike Silk) and doesn’t have a weird aftertaste like some non-dairy creamers. It’s made by Turtle Mountain Foods, one of my favorite small independent vegan companies. I also use it in cooking and baking. Try it!

  • Linda says:

    Once I stopped having milk in my coffee, I stopped craving it. Now I have it mainly out of habit and I always have it black but it has to be strong and not instant.

  • Lori K. says:

    It’s funny! I love the So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer too, but my husband prefers Trader Joe’s organic soy creamer the best. Good thing we have options.

  • Philip and Barbara Burghardt says:

    I never really enjoyed a cup of coffee, till I tried So Delicious Hazelnut Coconut Milk creamer, now I can’t wait for that cup in the morning!!!!!

  • Nadine says:

    The title sounded so promising…but sorry, you didnt help me out that much! All that Ive foudn out so far: No milk-substitute really tastes good in coffee…except Starbucks soy coffee…dunno how they do that!

  • Casey O. says:

    I agree on the vanilla soy milk, I prefer it over dairy milk or cream, especially as a soy latte. Just the right amount of sweet. Great suggestions!

  • Bill says:

    Smart & Final sells a VERY good ‘non-dairy’ creamer that IS actually vegan called Rod’s. I’ve only seen it in quart size. but it is the best I’ve had. it was my favorite creamer even before I went vegan.

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