Beyond Chicken Parmesan? Notes on old milk and vegan cheese from Italian cuisine



My relationship with Dairy products is complicated.

As a late 80s baby who grew up in the 90s, I was in “Got Milk?” Era, but raised by a mother who vehemently opposed the drink. In my little suburban New Jersey elementary school, we literally had “milk breaks” in the mornings, perfect between breakfast and lunch. While my classmates were feverishly drinking from their little milk cartons, I sipped lukewarm water bottles – or, if my mother was in a generous mood that week, chocolate milk or maybe even skimmed milk.

My bestial classmates shouted: “Michael drinks skin milk!” and I would strategically hold my box to hide the label. As an elementary school kid, like my classmates, I wanted to drink whole milk on a regular basis, but it sure wasn’t as if I had developed a taste for it. 25 years later I can count on one hand how often I have had a glass of milk.

Heavy cream, however, is a different story.

It really is all I add to mine Coffee, cold brew and espresso. Other dairy products also have an invaluable place in my home kitchen. Yogurt, sour cream, fromage blanc and creme fraiche give numerous dishes body and lightness and are also a pleasure on their own. Cheese is undoubtedly my favorite food; when i do Pamesan chicken, I like to add “heaps and heaps of cheese” and enjoy these almost burned shards as a chef’s treat.

Around me – and actually around all of us – the tension between Big (Traditional) Dairy and a Legion of old milk want to take over the shelf space in the supermarket. According to a report by LiveKindly In 1975, Americans drank 247 pounds of milk per person. In 2018 that number dropped to 146 pounds. Lancaster Agriculture notes that fairy farmers “are likely to have wafer-thin margins this year,” according to the USDA Data shows that the figures for the past three years for dairy farmers are “greater than any other decline in the past 13 years” compared to the previous year.

In other words, while you may have asked “milk or cream?” If you’re making coffee for someone, the 2021 question isn’t nearly as binary. But how did we get here? And what does that mean for conscious consumers and amateur cooks like me?


For decades, milk was touted as a miracle drink that would give children strong bones and grow them into Olympians. In recent years, however, environmental and animal welfare concerns have adversely affected the health value of milk. The question also arises as to whether man was meant to consume milk at all; a fact that has always convinced me is that humans are the only mammals that drink milk from another species and the only mammal to consume milk after childhood (I’d include the “think” emoji at this point and maybe even the “side eye” emoji if I could).

Ninety percent of adults of East Asian descent actually have difficulty digesting lactose as well LiveKindly notes that the American Medical Association actually “called for an amendment to federal law requiring children to be served cow’s milk for school lunch,” which is directly related to the millions of Americans who are lactose intolerant – many of them are Blacks and Asians Americans and Indians.

While Outside notes that cow’s milk is still widely regarded by many as a great post-exercise soft drink, and also reports that “a single glass of cow’s milk uses more land and emits three times as much greenhouse gas emissions as any plant-based alternative.”

The combination of environmental and ethical concerns, personal intolerance, and a growing cultural awareness of veganism sparked the plant-based industrial dairy revolution. The market is now inundated with options: soy, almond, macadamia, rice, oats, coconut, pea, banana, and seemingly endless combinations of the varieties available.

Are you healthier? It’s a complicated question. How Good household Note that many plant-based milks are secretly high in sugar, while milk milk is also more protein. There was also debate over the relative health of Oatly, the leading oat milk producer that uses canola oil to create a creamy opulence in their products.

The production of plant-based milk is also not entirely free from environmental concerns. The meanwhile feverish demand for almond milk has dire effects on our planet, especially devastation in California . External coverage backs this claim, stating that “80% of the nuts used in almond milk are grown in drought-prone California, but it takes a gallon of water to produce a single almond.”

In a recently published Food52 items, Rebecca Firkser laments that there really is no such thing as a really healthy dairy option: be it due to allergens, animal welfare, environmental concerns, or nutritional considerations. Of course, many dairy-free options are also very expensive. Firkser also points out that issues like harvesting and growing almonds and even growing oats can raise a whole host of other issues in addition to animal welfare concerns in the dairy industry – not to mention the treatment of workers involved in growing, planting , and cultivating these plants, often in dire conditions.

It’s a true culinary whack-a-mole when it comes to what to pull out of your fridge.


All in all, the surge in alternative milk coincides with some breakthroughs in other herbal products. Alicia Kennedy is breathtaking Function for eaters If you’re recording the history – and potential future – of vegan cheese in Eater, you could single-handedly say, “Hm, maybe I should try it?”

Kennedy writes: “The last decade has been a renaissance for vegan cheese.” The range has evolved from the taste of melted crayons to “small, artisanal vegan cheese that oozes, smells and blooms as convincingly as its dairy counterparts”.

And consumers react. One recently study notes that “the global vegan cheese market was valued at $ 1.01 billion in 2019 and will grow at an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.8% from 2020 to 2027.”

I stopped eating red meat in April and am now flirting with the idea of ​​total veganism. By 2021, the amount of herbal alternatives will be widespread, not overly expensive, and surprisingly tasty. If my avoidance of dairy helps some cows live better lives, helps reduce greenhouse gases that further add to the harm to our planet, and potentially adds to my own health “journey”, what is there to lose?

Maybe I’ll move on to mastering Beyond Pamesan chicken, doused with vegan mozzarella.



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