Wednesday, February 27, 2013

There's an App for This!

Testing. Blogging from phone. Check 1. Check. Check. Sibilance.

Better Than Butter?

When I first discovered my dairy allergy, I had to make some big changes.  I was addicted to cheese, living with a butter maniac, but had luckily not had any cow's milk to drink in years due to intolerance. I just HAD to change though, because I was in indescribable pain and throwing up every day.  For those vegetarians who just make an ethical choice to eliminate dairy from their diet out of the goodness of their hearts, I APPLAUD you!  That is amazing.  It's a real addiction, one I see flourishing all around me.
My mom once asked, "But, like, how do you not eat butter?"  I had been dairy free for a while at that point, so completely irrational questions like this no longer made sense to me.
"What do you mean?  I just don't eat butter."  I'm always being asked for ways to prepare new and exotic ingredients, but the question of how to NOT eat something confused me.
"What do you put on your bread?"
"I don't know...  Do you mean for a sandwich?  I don't put butter on sandwiches."
"No, I mean, if I'm having a slice of bread, I have to have butter on it."
"Oh, I guess I don't just sit around eating bread.  That solves that problem."
As much as I was picking on her, and it sounds silly and simple, the idea of not eating bread smeared with butter was beyond her comprehension.  Years later, when she was visiting for a week, she bought a pound of butter to keep in the fridge to add to her own food.  She added it to everything.  EVERYTHING.  It was the classic, "you can't have butter with this food because it's vegan," psychological torture, so she had to just coat everything I made in butter.  She kept apologizing and putting more butter on her plate like a completely out of control drug addict.  Before the week was up, she had finished her pound of butter.  She wanted to know who else had been eating it, since surely she could not have eaten an entire pound of butter in less than a week.  That would be outrageous.  She went home with a new realization that she had a problem.  A butter problem.  What a strange addiction, and yet, she's not alone.

It seems that every non-vegan I know has recently discovered that margarine is essentially plastic and that we should all be eating "real" butter.  Butter even has "lots of nutrients," and as one post I saw said, "Even if it's not from grass-fed beef, the cheap stuff is still really good for you."

Okay.  Can we all just take a collective deep breath.

First of all, butter is not health food and it's not good for you.  If you think otherwise, I really have no interest or ability to reason with you.  You know it, your grandma knows it, PAULA FUCKING DEAN even says you can't eat like she cooks on her show every day because that shit is for special occasions.  Last time I checked, you aren't saving your essential nutrients for special occasions.  I can quote vegan doctors and you can quote Weston Price (pardon me while I gag), but then we're just each presenting our own information that maybe an objective person would say is equal but completely contradictory.  If you look at a Tbsp of unsalted butter (I'll give you the low-sodium benefit of the doubt), you get almost no nutrients from it.  Less than 10% daily value across the board.  Oh, wait, what that's 36% recommended daily allowance of saturated fat.  Do you worry you might be saturated fat deficient?  Butter may be your answer!  Even protein, which so many say, "Well it's a dairy product, so it's a good source of protein and calcium!"  Nope.  In a serving (that's 1Tbsp) there is .1g of protein (0% of your RDA) and 3.4 mg of calcium (again, 0% of your RDA).  So I'm not sure where this "nutrient" idea came from, but it's 100% bunk.  This totally nutrient-free item is basically a stick of saturated fat, which I promise you aren't lacking in.

So, if we can all just realize that butter isn't health food, then maybe we can continue on some kind of path that resembles reason.  The next leap that the posts FOR butter keep making, at least the ones I'm seeing, is that margarine is bad.  It's plastic.  It's UNHEALTHY (As unhealthy as a stick of saturated fat?!).

Let's compare.  Earth Balance Buttery Spread (the most common vegan alternative to butter) is basically in the same boat as butter.  It's all fat with no nutrient value.  The arguments against margarine that I have seen have to do with the "scary ingredients" in margarine though.  I don't buy most margarine, because it has animal products in it, so that's an omni's problem, not mine.  Earth Balance has the following ingredients:
From the Earth Balance website
I'm not trying to argue that this is health food.  IT IS NOT.  It's a butter substitute, and since we already know that butter isn't health food, there's no reason to believe it's substitute would be either.  There's no artificial colors, nothing an adult can't pronounce, and no GMO's.  The palm is controversial among vegans, because palm production has been destroying orangutan habitats, but Earth Balance has been working hard to find sustainable harvesting methods.  I personally have reduced my palm to almost zero after hearing too many sad orangutan stories, but if you are going to consume palm, Earth Balance is probably the best company to do so from.  Again, you don't NEED a stick of fat to eat, but if you are going to eat a stick of fat, I recommend one that isn't butter.

GMO's, you say, why butter comes from a cow, how could it be genetically modified?
So, I can understand the concern with some margarines, they are trash made with GMO oils and such I'm sure.  BUT, it's important to note that the majority of GMO soy and corn is fed to animals for meat and dairy.  Also, dairy cows are often given a GM hormone, rGBH.  My point is that unless you are buying organic butter, you are getting all that GMO crap, plus supporting the GMO industry.  Also, toxins store up in fat, so since butter is pure fat from an animal that was likely exposed to insane amounts of toxins, it's basically just pure toxins you are eating.  Just like not buying the best quality vegan margarine, buying sub-par butter is going to expose you to the same dangers.
For more about GMO foods, you can visit

Now you wonder why not just eat the organic butter instead of Earth Balance?  Again, it's hard to reason with someone who wants an argument against taking from an animal what is rightfully her calves, or needs an argument why a human shouldn't consume the fat of a cow's breast milk.  If those things seem normal to you, it's hard to know what I would need to say to convince you otherwise.
In searching for information about what happens to cows in dairy farms, the information is largely from animal rights groups, because who else gives a shit?  I am linking to the wiki page knowing that wikipedia is not a reliable source for anything, but it's not overly biased and gives a general idea.  If that's not a good enough reason, I don't really know where to go from there.  If I hadn't had a dairy allergy, I don't know what would have convinced me.

For those who are sitting there thinking they would prefer a whole food, not something processed, what I have switched to, and it doesn't taste just like butter, because that's not my goal, is extra virgin coconut oil with Himalayin sea salt.  Doesn't get more natural and whole than that.  It's not filtered through an animal, it's straight from the tree and salt flat (I don't know how salt is derived, I'm not going to lie).  I like avocado on my toast, with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.  I use coconut or canola oil in most cooking, sesame oil (not toasted) for roasting veggies.  My daughter like nut butter on her toast, and my son prefers his plain.  On a potato, some salsa and avocado are delicious.  My husband likes his with BBQ sauce.  Popcorn has never been so delicious as it is popped in coconut oil then sprinkled with nutritional yeast (and I like black pepper with this too).  It's not that hard.  It can be done in small steps, or in big ones.  Maybe an allergy leads you there, or maybe your heart, maybe your fear of heart disease and cancer.

If you are vegan, and you have awesome buttery replacements, share them in the comments!  I'd love to hear what you are doing!