Being a Vegan Coffee Drinker

Being a Vegan Coffee Drinker

No, no. I am not a vegan. I am not even a vegetarian or a pescetarian or any kind of (non) food eating tarian. I just eat the food that I like and attempt to remain healthy in doing so, with the exception of BIG COOKIE. Big Cookie is my weakness. 

I am lactose intolerant. 

This is a touchy subject in India. They really love their milk, almost as much as Chuckanucka. (CHUCKANUCKA WANT MIIIILK! Sorry, if you are not in my family, you don’t understand and would also probably forsake me if you did.)



decide for yourself

So I was saying, Indians like milk and they add it to many things. 

Here the preferred drink is chai tea.  It’s pretty charming, actually. Everyone drinks it all the time like it’s their day job. Then again I do remember that “take your child to work day” with Doug Fleming included having coffee breaks like it was his day job, so I am not one to judge. And for some people it really is their day (or night) job. 

You can always find boys riding bikes around with jugs of tea hitched to the back, every block there is a stand in the street, and on the train sleeping is pointless because every two seconds the chai guy flings open the door yelling, “CHAIIII, CHAIII, CHAIIIIIIII!” There’s not shortage. It’s fabulous.



Besides, it makes sense that they love tea. The Brits had a tea-drinking culture and  they colonized India. Unlike America, India did not have a tea party (BORING!) and so they are still drinking it. I’m not mad about it. I like tea.

 BUT their tea has an Indian flare (Duh). There are usually Indian masalas (spices) added and it is brewed directly into milk. Yeah, I said it, MILK. You can’t avoid it. Unfortunately, I cannot indulge in the chai habits of Bombay, though I am invited to often. 

So I spend most of my days offending people by refusing the chai offered to me and asking for drinks without milk.

Also I do enjoy coffee. How could I not? I think on a holiday when the whole family is home we have a pot brewing from about 7am-12pm and then again from 7pm-10pm. I was finely groomed to like coffee. So sometimes a girl just needs her coffee and that’s where Café Coffee Day comes in handy.

 I have been mentioning Cafe Coffee Day a lot. It’s because I go there a lot. I write letters, listen to podcasts, read, bask in the air conditioning, sew owls…


Since coffee is not so popular as tea, it is advertised as being something more. Their tagline is “A lot can happen over coffee” and  gee wiz, I’m sure it can. The thing is that they hardly serve just black coffee because people don’t buy that here.  So every time I walk up to the counters and say, “Can I have a plain, black coffee?” (Sometimes I add in Americano because that’s what a lot of places call it) I wind up in a weird argument with the boy behind the counter. I guess the moral is that an argument is included in the “a lot” that can happen over coffee. 


They hear black coffee and confusion erupts. You can just see their brains exploding between their eyes. And the thing is, I wouldn’t care so much, if I weren’t lactose intolerant.

The conversation is always like this:

Me: Could I please have a black coffee?

Them: No milk?

Me: No, no milk…just plain, black coffee, nothing in it.

Them: But in India we have black coffee with milk.

Me: But then the coffee isn’t black anymore, is it?

Them: It’s too bitter like that only. You won’t be able to drink it, it’s too bitter.

Me: It’s okay, that’s how I drink it at home. And besides I can’t have milk, it makes me sick, I am lactose intolerant.

Them: GASPprocessing…thinking…You should have the vegan (they pronounce it vay-gun) shake, you will like it better. 

Me: le sigh… It’s okay, I will just have black coffee, I promise I can handle it, just watch!

Them: Okay.


The result? They bring me out a Vegan Shake… (almost) EVERY TIME. And I don’t hate it. 

So what is a Vegan Shake?

It is about 20% iced coffe, 50% “non-dairy cream supplement” and 30% sugar.

Yeah, it’s really sweet. 

And if they do by chance bring out a black coffee, they will bring it to me with 4 or 5 packs of sugar, which makes me laugh every time, especially because packs of sugar at CCD come with about twice the amount of a standard sugar packet at a restaurant in the US.

So in Bombay I have become that girl. The token vegan coffee drinker who sits in the coffee shop in front of the neo fly murderer zapper, sipping her vegan shake for hours and writing in her diary. And I am very happy to so. 


I think the radiation from the fly murderer on my back has a calming, trance like effect. 

I have this feeling when I drink coffee for the first time again at home, I am going to have the shakes in a big way, and not the vegan shakes, the shakey shakes, because I have been made weak by cream supplement and sugar. 

But alas, I will miss Cafe Coffee Day here soon, just one of many treasures I hate to leave behind!