As Easter rolls around I can’t help but feel left out. Not because I’m not religious, not because my mother is on a strict, ‘no sugar in the house' diet but because I am lactose intolerant.
“But you can eat dark chocolate!” Shut up. It’s not the same and you know that. It’s like telling a person allergic to animals to buy a decorative house plant instead.
Usually, I can cope with my ‘condition’ it’s a simple matter of avoiding everything that makes life worth living, like chocolate and cheese.
But once I’ve truly accepted the fact that I will live as an outcast for the rest of my life, being lactose intolerant isn’t that bad. Until, of course, Easter decides to rear its ugly chocolate head.
I can’t go anywhere in the months of March or April without being taunted by something I can’t eat. The constant mailers and ads are promoting “two Cadbury blocks for $5”, little reminders that I can never experience the post-Easter regret feeling after eating my weight's worth of Lindt chocolate truffles.
“But wouldn’t you save money?” No. The Millennial inside me will spend Easter money on (almond milk) flat whites instead and that’s not something I can influence willingly.
As the awareness of gluten intolerance becomes more apparent, more and more suitable products are being released. And la-de-da for you gluten intolerant people, I hope you’re happy with your gluten free goddamn tortilla wraps and crackers.
Walking through the supermarket aisle during Easter is like a poor starving man walking down, well, a supermarket aisle...
Seeing people consume whole glasses of milk is so interesting and also horrifying for me. How did you do that? How are you still okay? Should I call your parents or a medical professional?
Look at ALL these available alternatives! Wow!
But as chocolate bunnies and speckled M&Ms point and laugh and I sulk by, I can’t help but wonder, would you have a month dedicated to peanut butter with the number of people that are allergic to peanuts? No, because people would be excluded.
On a global scale, New Zealand doesn’t have the most dairy-free people. But that doesn’t mean those that are here don’t matter as people - we still have human rights for crying out loud. Nine percent of New Zealand can't eat dairy. That is about 405,000 people.
Showing the percent of lactose intolerance by country percentage.
I wouldn’t say I am deathly allergic to lactose because frankly, I’m not. But it doesn’t like me. The feelings I have are not mutual, my love towards chocolate is unrequited and each year I’m reminded about how I have loved, and I have lost.
How do you even fight against lactose intolerance? The answer is not cow tipping or thinking you can ‘get away with it this time’. But as a small tip, if you ever want a list of the best public bathrooms, hang out with a lactose intolerant person.
Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year, following Halloween. According to the US-based National Confectioner’s Association (yes that is a real place) ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced each year.
This year alone, New Zealanders have already bought over five million Easter eggs. And retailers are quickly jumping on the ‘I hate all lactose intolerant people’ Easter bandwagon.
M&Ms have released pastel egg-shaped versions of their chocolate, Reese's makes peanut butter eggs, Malteasers makes bunny shaped chocolate now. Schmacko has also released chocolate for DOGS. Because for some reason a dog comes before me on the level of inclusion in Easter traditions. Stuff you, billion-dollar pet industry.
A recent conversation I had with a waiter in Newmarket shows that there is lot more education needed around dairy-free requirements.
“I have a dairy allergy, can you tell me how this meal is cooked?”
“It’s cooked on the grill.”
I don’t ask for much; all I want is for every single chocolate ever made in the history of the universe ever to have a lactose-free version that tastes exactly like the regular version from now until the end of time. Not a hard task, people.
As awareness grows for us, the lactose intolerant community, my hope is that next year more options will be available and us lactose intolerant folk can rise from the shadows and reclaim our holiday involvement from the people who once mocked us. Or we can find something else to complain about, either one.
Happy Easter, hope it's legen-dairy.