Almond Bars With A Citrusy Glaze

A blogger friend left me a message saying she wanted to go vegan but doesn’t think taking milk from a cow is cruel because there’s no bloodshed.

I understand her hesitation: many of us believe in the “California cow” myth– you know, the one perpetrated by those cutesy ads where dairy cows gossip, graze on idyllic green pastures all day and lie lazily in the sun. The one where, we are led to presume, they will willingly offer their udders to some smiling milkmaid and her soft, gentle hands.

But the reality looks more like this. Dairy farms are usually places where hundreds of cows are packed into muddy lots where they stand in their own feces most of the time, or in small stalls so tight they can barely move. They certainly don’t see any green pastures or even the blue sky. Their tails are docked (amputated) without any painkillers — is that something you can even imagine? They are then injected with astronomical amounts of hormones to make them yield unrealistically high quantities of milk. Some cows get so heavy because of all this hormone-pumping that their legs break under their weight. The excessive milking causes their udders to become painful and swollen and often infected.

For those who believe dairy cows are just fine because they don’t have to die to give milk, consider this: the average life span of a cow is around 14 years but most dairy cows are slaughtered for their meat around four years of age which is roughly when their worn-out bodies stop producing milk. They are crammed into open trailers and driven hundreds of miles to the slaughterhouses, packed in so tight that they can’t sit or rest during this, their final journey. Many collapse from heat exhaustion and are just left there to die. Those who survive will die in a day or two anyway. And here’s how that happens: when it’s time, they will be prodded with forklifts, sprayed in their nostrils with water and dragged with chains to get them into a box where their heads will be lopped off and their bodies carved into meat for steaks, burgers, roasts and whatnot.

What’s worse, the veal industry — which slaughters little calves for their meat– is a direct offshoot of the dairy industry. Cows lactate only when they are pregnant, so to give milk, dairy cows have to be kept in a constant cycle of pregnancy. The female calves they give birth to are retained to replace their moms as dairy cows, but the male calves are separated from their moms within hours of birth and spend the next three or four months confined to crates and tethered by their necks. And then they are killed for their meat.

I’m not pulling all this out of my you-know-what– these are cold, hard facts revealed during investigations by animal advocacy groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. Watch this video even if you don’t think you have the stomach for it, and then decide if you can stomach any more dairy.

And if all that’s not enough, here’s something more. You know how we’ve been told that milk is vital for growing strong bones. Well, studies by researchers at Yale and Harvard have shown conclusively that people who consume most of their calcium from dairy products break bones twice as easily as those who get their calcium from leafy greens and other calcium-rich vegetable sources. Countries like Japan and China, where people consume very little milk, if at all, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis in the world. On the other hand countries like India and the United States, which consume lots of dairy, have the world’s highest rates of osteoporosis. Coincidence? I think not.

Carrots, tofu, leafy greens like kale and spinach, beans, grains, broccoli, seeds and nuts are all rich sources of calcium that’s much more easily absorbed by the human body than the calcium in milk. Plus, they taste better.

Here’s the bottomline: dairy products are completely unnecessary, even when they come from “humanely” raised cows because, honestly, who ever decided that humans should drink the milk meant for calves? Come to think of it, it’s quite a yucky thing to do. Besides, we are the only animals who poach upon the milk of another animal, so shame on us!

And why should we do it, when there are dozens of great, healthier options like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and hemp milk, vegan cheeses that taste like the real thing, tofu that does a great job of emulating dairy in baked goods, and soy yogurts that make you go mmm.

Finally, to prove that you can eat deliciously sans dairy, here are my Almond Bars with a Citrusy Glaze which I veganized from a recipe in the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. These bars have a crumbly shortbready crust made with heart-healthy canola oil instead of butter, a chewy, toffee-like almond center that’s intoxicatingly sweet, and a lime glaze that will make your tastebuds tingle. And although they look and taste terribly elegant, they couldn’t be easier to make.

Enjoy, all!

Almond Bars With A Citrusy Glaze
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
(Makes 24 bars)
Recipe type: Dessert
  • For the bottom crust:
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓rd cup light brown sugar (can substitute with regular sugar + ½ tsp molasses)
  • ½ cup of canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • For the topping:
  • 3 tsp EnerG egg replacer + 5 tbsp warm water, whisked together until mixed
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar (can use regular sugar + 1 tsp molasses)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped
  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered or confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter or margarine, melted
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Zest of 2 limes
  1. Combine the ingredients for the crust with a fork or a pastry blender. Pat evenly into the bottom of a lightly greased 9 X 13-inch pan with oiled fingers.
  2. Bake the crust for 12 minutes in a 350-degree oven until lightly brown and set.
  3. To make the topping, mix all the ingredients in a bowl, then pour over the prepared crust, making sure it coats the crust evenly. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth it out.
  4. Bake for about 22-25 minutes or until the topping has set.
  5. To make the glaze, mix the ingredients for the glaze into a smooth paste. When the bars are still hot, spread the glaze over the bars or drizzle in a decorative pattern. Allow the bars to cool completely, then cut into bars with a sharp, serrated knife.
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    what about using organic and cage free dairy products? i regularly make healthy vegan choices in my vegetarian lifestyle (for instance, I use rice milk in my home instead of dairy milk), but I still enjoy cruelty-free dairy products and I don’t feel bad about that.

    Just wondering what your thoughts are. Love your blog and I’m going to try out these almond bars.

  2. says

    Priya, Thanks!

    Ms. T: Thanks for asking, and here’s what I think. Eating dairy products and eggs from animals and birds raised in more humane conditions is certainly a huge improvement over eating the products of factory farms. That said, I will add this: at the end of the day, taking milk from an animal — or eggs from a bird– is an act of exploitation against a mute creature. After all, it is not as if the animals and birds asked for this and there is no evidence that they are happier for it. If they could speak I’m sure they’d say, hands off! :)

  3. says

    Vaishali, what you said is so true. When I was reading what you wrote all I could imagine was what it would be like if someone took away my lactating milk, bottled it up and sold it to the supermarket.
    We are not vegans and I was not even clear about the meaning of the word till I started reading your blog. Your passion makes me pause and think every time I eat chicken or grab the egg and milk carton in the dairy aisle. But old habits are hard to break and when you don’t see where your staples come from it is easy to digest.
    Your almond bars look yummy. Will surely try it out . I know they will be yummy. All your recipes are.

  4. says

    Vaishali you know I am not vegan.. but i agree 100% with what you have written here. We humans are the only ones using other animal’s milk, meat eggs.. really how disgusting can it get?

    The bars are fantastic! Almond is th nut i use the most & love it.

  5. says

    I am not a vegan… but your post is seriously making me think.. All this while, I was thinking that I was doing a good thing bu being a vegetarian.. I did not know that cows are subjected to such horrendous cruelties in order to give more milk… thanks for the info Vaishali..

    and I love king arthur baking books.. I have been meaing to make something from their whole-grain baking book

  6. says

    Hi, It’s so good for you to write such an informative post. I live in the country, surrounded by farms, so I am well aware of what goes on. Luckily, I am surrounded by cows that are relatively happy, grazing in grassy pastures, but the chicken houses are another thing…also we get some pretty strong smells to say the least…would be so great for me to see more veggie and fruit farms and less acres and acres of corn for feed!! Recipe adaptation looks perfect….I’ll make this for the family to take along for lunch.
    Peace, Stephanie

  7. says

    Vaishali, I could not continue reading the cruelty caused to cows..My heart felt heavy reading half way through..And I am not going to see the video too..I know how horrible it would be..But I can definitely turn vegan..I can’t turn my family vegan overnight..But I can start with myself first..I don’t want to make this comment any longer..I shall send you an e-mail @ be you can help me with turning vegan..

  8. says

    Vaishali, bang on target! It is definitely not a coincidence that India has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis. And what’s more, I have never known anybody from amongst my circle of friends and family who has ever got themselves rid of osteoporosis by consuming milk!! I attended this wonderful workshop conducted by Dr. Nandita Shah called “Pills v/s Peas” a few weeks back. Through this workshop we realized that if cow’s milk contains the oh-so precious “calcium”, then the only way a cow can get the calcium is by consuming grass and greens. We might as well consume the greens directly! What is the whole point in raising a cow and torturing it to give milk by starving its calves? The process of milk extraction is so cruel that it is as good as murder for meat!

    Vaishali, I feel so disgusted with all of us – the human race!

  9. says

    I too had thought that animal cruelty does not involve in milk industry…this post is definitely an eye-opener for me…I try to make vegan substitions but it does get difficult sometimes since I am new at this…like I eat eggs regularly. Are there any vegan alternative for eggs? The bars looks awesome Vaishali…delicious :)

  10. says

    The bars look fabulous, Vaishali!The write up is very inspiring.I can’t say I am truly a vegan.Although I don’t eat meat, eggs,I still take butter, honey and sometimes technically, no, but after reading your post, I have second thoughts on using ’em too!Well, I am not sure if I can but anyhow..It is quite impressive how passionate you are!

  11. says

    thank you so much for all the info.
    this post was painful to read, I had to do a break in between, but the worst thing is realizing that everything you wrote down is the reality.:( make us think a lot that sometimes we are not doing the right thing, we are not caring for the Mother Nature which provides us with everything that we need to nurture our bodies without having to kill animals. From an energetic/spiritual point of view (where the vegan life style raises up naturally) is even worse, the animal’s suffering energy is attached to its meat and milk.

    The almond bars look delicious and I love almonds – they are my favorite snack! I will definitely try them!

  12. says

    Wow, what a powerful post. Thank you for talking about this issue. I feel like I’ve probably known in the back of my mind that the dairy industry is not fine but tried to ignore the issue selfishly for my own comfort. I can’t go on ignoring it though-It’s horrific what cows suffer and for what cause? It’s completely unnecessary suffering! I really need to make some dietary changes and definitely work on becoming vegan (I’m already nearly there as a vegetarian who avoids eggs and milk for the most part- it’s that yoghurt habit I need to kick.
    Thank you so much again.

  13. Thea says

    The recipe is delicious! I just made them, and it turned out great. I had to use cornstarch instead of eggreplacer and lemon juice instead of lime. They are a bit crumbly, and not as firm as I had hoped, but that could be due to my inability to wait til they are completely cold. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Anonymous says

    I live on a dairy farm and this posts is extremely deceptive and exagerated!!! Just because there are a few farms like that here and there does not mean you should say all farms are like that. Shame on you!

  15. says

    Anonymous, I wasn’t sure I wanted to dignify your comment with an answer, especially since you didn’t even have the courtesy to identify yourself, but on second thoughts I will because you need to hear this. While I agree there are dairy farms that don’t treat their cows as badly as factory farms do, they still have no right to hold animals against their will and use them for food. Millions of vegans every day show the world that it is possible to survive without meat and dairy products and be healthy. Instead of batting down those who are trying to lead a compassionate lifestyle, I suggest you give a second thought to what you do, and how fair it is to the animals.

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