The Land of (No) Milk and Honey

by Sarah on October 8, 2011 · 4 comments

When I read this sign in the bakery, I had to laugh.
My first thought was, “You mean ‘L’Shanah Tovah’ to everyone except vegans, right?”

After all, being a vegan can seem more like being rejected from that mysterious “land of milk and honey.” Clearly there is no challah in my future, but aside from the obvious “I can’t eat that” moments when faced with honey-drenched baklava or a glass milk proffered with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies* comes the real challenge: manufacturer-added milk and hidden honey.
*Neither of these things has actually happened. Consider them relics of imagined nostalgia from my (very short) vegan past.
Honey seems to be one of the great debates of veganism as far as I can tell. The “do you, or don’t you?” question has come up a few times already, and many people look shocked when I tell them I can’t eat honey. There are lots of arguments on both sides, but I figured if I was going to really give myself a challenge, I was going whole hog [or whole bee, as the case may...be(e)?] and all in. So i immediately knew to avoid obviously honey sweetened products.

But oh my goll, y’all, honey is hidden in everything! As it is a “natural sweetener,” even the choices you might consider ‘healthier’ have hidden honey. I found it quite amusing when reading labels my first day as a vegan that Reese’s Puffs were vegan……but Kashi GoLEAN and GoLEANCrunch! were not.GoLEAN Crisp, however? Totally fine and usable as a crunchy (or should I say crispy?) topping for my oatmeal.

The lesson?

Label-reading has never been more important to me.

As for milk, I knew giving that up would be easy for me. I was concerned about yogurt, but as far as other dairy products go, my familial ties to Wisconsin have NOT left me a cheesehead,^ and my morning coffee requires only (usually plant-extracted versions of) sugar.

^You might recall the last time I visited I didn’t even eat cheese.
I’ve long been a convert to unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

But what I didn’t think about was the milk that is added to so many products seemingly at random. Flavored peanuts? Added milk solids! Hazelnut crackers? Milk powder (along with egg whites)! And woe to be me when I discovered that my favorite multigrain pancake mix had buttermilk powder added to it.

But I refused to be without pancakes. And, rather than get out some whole wheat flour and whip up a batch of (honestly, y’all, really not that hard to do) homemade pancakes, I decided that there had to be an “instant” way….

…from something already in my pantry.
After all, label comparisons proved that the ingredients were really similar, with the exception of added baking powder, salt, and that silly buttermilk powder. So I decided this was as good a time as any for an experiment in vegan pancake making.

I poured one cup of Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Hot Cereal into a bowl, along with 3/4 tsp. baking powder, a pinch of salt, and a pinch (or five) of sucanat.
No eggs allowed…but that’s why the vegan gods invented flax eggs!

[2 Tbsp. ground flax + 1/4 cup water]

Some cinnamon-spicing, and a little fork-mixing later…
…I had a sticky, goopy mess, that was reminiscent of an overly-thick overnight oat concoction. [Strangely appealing, I must say. But I'm weird. Did I eat some? Of course.]
I added about 1/2-3/4 cup almond milk to thin everything out a bit.
For kicks, I put in a drop of maple extract. [If there is a choice between vanilla and maple, I will choose maple every time. ;) ]
And, after a few rather unsuccessful attempts at flipping…(perhaps it needs more flax? less almond milk next time?)
…I managed to make some pretty decent pancakes. [Not perfectly round...but really? Aren't the oddball pancakes more fun?]
As the texture of the “hot cereal” was definitely more coarse than a pancake mix, these have a nuttier consistency, almost like the corn cakes we used to eat growing up. In fact, that’s exactly what they reminded me of: slightly gritty, not-too-sweet, and probably best made in (actual) silver-dollar size.
They might not have been the most beautiful pancakes in the world, but covered in ripe banana and sweet apple (along with some extra pumpkin pie spice)…

….what’s not to love?
And vegans might not be able to eat honey, but you know what we CAN consume with abandon?

Maple syrup.

And, as I learned with the aforementioned corncakes of my childhood visits to Georgia…
…a little maple syrup makes EVERYTHING worth eating. :)
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristina @ spabettie October 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm

ah, the honey conundrum. it really makes no sense to me that a vegan would think honey is okay, if you follow the BASIC definition of what vegan is. (or is not). but I didn't come here to blather on and cause a ruckus. ;)

mmm PANCAKES! I think they look awesome as is. adding a flour (a general all purpose) might make them less grainy if you are wanting that. but again, these look perfect to me!

happy Saturday!

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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean October 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm

love oddball pancakes :)

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table October 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Those look pretty good! I'm joining you in the in the vegan club. I'm on a 21 day cleanse post-Italy. The first 10 days are all vegan… which I'm fine with. Its the fact that I can't have NUTS for 21 days that kills me. *Whimper*

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Maddie April 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Thanks for the advice. I’m a recent vegan (I mean RECENT, like yesterday). Anyway, I love it! Seriously, being vegan is great, and I’ve been living off of almonds, soy milk, salad, fruit, and other nuts. :)

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