SOME VEGANS RECKON IT’S A BREEZE GIVING UP ALL ANIMAL-DERIVED PRODUCTS, BUT CREAM WAS GARY STEEL’S WEAK POINT – UNTIL NOW.
I’VE KNOWN PEOPLE who don’t like cream, but they always seemed like aliens to me. I grew up in a creamy family. We didn’t have a lot of money, fancy cars or a big house, but there were always desserts after dinner, and often, that meant great globs of whipped cream. Dad was the King of cream, smothering fruit salad, pave, whatever, with lashings of the stuff. When Mum and Dad went to Valentine’s for an “all you can eat”, Dad saved his appetite for the sweet bar, and each serving of dessert, no matter what he chose, would be doused and disguised in whipped cream.
Everyone has their weaknesses, and Dad didn’t drink or gamble or philander, so I guess he needed something “naughty” to spice things up. I must have got his cream genes; either that, or the subtle cream conditioning meant that when I thought of cream, I thought of all good things. You know, ‘the cat got the cream’, ‘creamy complexion’, ‘cream of the crop’, et cetera. [Okay, I know there are also phrases like ‘she makes me want to cream my pants’, and ‘don’t be a cream puff’, but that’s beside the point!]
The point is that cream is generally thought of in glowing terms, as something life giving, and positive. And all my vegetarian life, I could go for a week or two without a cream bun, but eventually, the need in me would build. Yoghurt was a good substitute, actually, and of course it felt healthier. Every time I tried “going vegan”, my undoing was either yoghurt or cream.
So it’s with a certain amount of pleasure that I can announce that I have discovered a product called Alpro Soya Single. Manufactured in Belgium in a tiny, 250ml box, it’s described on the back as ‘plant-based’ and ‘naturally dairy and lactose free’, but most hearteningly, it actually makes a great show of replicating the fat-laden texture of “real” cow cream without exploiting a single bovine.
The downside of Alpro Soya Single is that, according to the packet, ‘this product is not whippable.’ My Dad, bless his soul, would have been mortified, but I’d be willing to bet that he’d dribble it over whatever he was eating, in any case. And it actually tastes good. Most soy products make a poor fist of that very specific creamy taste and texture, but I’m impressed.
I’m not quite sure how they did it, and I’m trying not to think too hard about that. The downside of so many vegan products is that they’re so processed, and who needs more ultra-processed products that are made by food technologists and probably bad for our health and that of the planet?
But hey, a person can only deal with so much at a time, eh? Still, let’s peel off the superimposed Nutrition Information sticker to take a peak at the ingredients list, shall we? Water, vegetable oil (sunflower), hulled soya beans, fructose-glucose syrup, emulsifier (sucrose), stabilisers (xanthan gum), guar gum, sea salt, and that all-encompassing ruse-word, ‘flavouring’. Well, not terribly encouraging, but as a special sweet treat, what’s not to like?
One of these days I’ll have weaned myself off the idea of cream, and I’ll be happily munching on a sophisticated array of splendiferous homemade raw food concoctions (either that, or the whole world will be at war with Isis, and we’ll be reduced to living in bomb shelters and eating lizards to survive).
In the meantime, whenever I get that ‘need for cream’ feeling that niggles and just won’t go away, at least I know that Alpro Soya Single is there to prop up my addiction. GARY STEEL
* I’ve never seen Alpro Soya Single at my local Countdown, but apparently some branches stock it. The product can also be purchased through the Cruelty Free Shop, Ethical Shopper and probably other ‘alternative’ food outlets