How To Go Dairy Free – The Ultimate Guide
If you are running to the market because you’re out of milk, turn around and head back home.
Relax, we won’t let you starve because there are multiple non-dairy products you can try to live a healthy life. For too long, we have believed in the benefits of dairy products and how they prevent ailments.
But it’s time to think again, because are they really beneficial?
Today we bust the myth surrounding dairy foods and provide numerous alternatives you can try. Give our guide a read and switch to a truly healthy lifestyle.
Problems With Dairy Products
Why should you listen to us when we say that a dairy-free diet is synonymous with a healthy lifestyle? Well, you shouldn’t, and that’s why before discussing some popular dairy-free alternatives, we will tell you about the problems of consuming dairy products.
For your benefit, we have categorized these issues based on physical, ecological, and ethical problems.
1. Animal Cruelty
One of the most telling arguments against dairy products is animal cruelty because most beverages and foods contain the milk of mammals, like cows, goats, and sheep. Unknown to you, big dairy companies mistreat animals, subjecting them to poor living conditions just to increase productivity.
The next time you drink a glass of milk, remember that a cow or goat will probably live 13-19 years less to meet the growing demands for dairy. In most cases, dairy mammals are impregnated with steroids, not to mention other chemicals, which limit their lifespan to 6 years.
On average, healthy cows can survive for 20-25 years, so you can imagine the conditions dairy cows are subjected to, such as tiny enclosures with no room for movement. But even if this doesn’t make you think, wait till we tell you what happens to the calves.
Upon giving birth, the mother and her calf are separated from each other, quite intentionally to exploit the maternal instincts of the female cow. These calves are slaughtered within just 7 days, and nearly 500,000 calves are killed per year as part of dairy farming.
Apart from the inhuman treatment of animals, dairy goods come with their fair share of health concerns, such as osteoporosis. So far, you might have heard people saying that drinking milk improves bone health, but did you know that drinking too much milk can weaken bones?
If you’re left scratching your heads after reading this, refer to this 2005 health study that showed milk didn’t improve bone density in children. You can even read this Harvard University research conducted on 72,000 women for 12 years to show that milk neither enhanced bone health nor reduced fractures.
On the contrary, drinking more milk might even make bones weaker, especially in women. This is due to the link between osteoporosis and milk consumption, while other issues like obesity, cancer, neurological symptoms, and diabetes become more prevalent.
3. Environmental Impact
We bet you didn’t know that consuming dairy ingredients and products prove detrimental to the environment. If you don’t believe us, consider this – there are 300 million dairy cows worldwide, and they do much more than produce milk. The manure from cows is one of the major contributors to greenhouse emissions which results in climate change.
Even more dangerous is that manure and fertilizers seep into the soil and contaminate the groundwater. This pollutes local water supplies and damages forests and wetlands due to uncontrolled dairy farming.
The brunt of the issues is related to water pollution and wastage since looking after dairy cattle requires 500 billion cubic meters of water per year.
More and more scientists are researching potable water sources, with clean water running out fast for the human race. If you still have a regular water supply at home, enjoy it while it lasts because even one tiny cup of yogurt requires 90 gallons of water.
Other popular dairy foods that are equally harmful to the environment include:
- A stick of butter – 109 gallons of water
- 2 cheese slices – 50 gallons of water
- One ice cream scoop – 42 gallons of water
Dairy Alternatives For Sustainable Living
Suppose that we do convince you to shift to a healthier lifestyle; what are some dairy replacements that you can try? After all, getting our daily dose of vitamins and nutrients is still important.
Iodine helps produce thyroid hormones, and dairy milk is rich in this nutrient. But so are other alternatives that will help in eliminating dairy from your diet:
- Navy beans
- Himalayan crystal salts
- Sea vegetables
- Turkey breast
- Fish and shrimp
2. Vitamin D
Most people are hesitant to try out dairy-free recipes, lest they become deficient in Vitamin D. But you forget the best source of Vitamin D is the sun – available for free and a sustainable energy source.
We tried it ourselves and found that soaking in the morning sun for 10 minutes sufficiently improves bone health. But if you live in the northern hemisphere and don’t get daily sun exposure, try any of the following foods for a Vitamin D supplement:
- Cod liver oil
3. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12  is essential to lower the chances of nervous system damage or anemia. While most people opt for dairy products, you can try meat and fish delicacies as an alternative.
Your options are slightly slim when it comes to vegan products, even though supplements and fortified foods contain their fair share of this vitamin. Other than that, you can try the following dairy-free foods:
- Grass-fed lean beef cuts
- Wild salmon
- Nutritional yeast extracts
- Supplements like canned coconut milk
- Breakfast cereals
The dairy industry doesn’t want you to know that cow’s milk isn’t the only source of a daily calcium supplement. You’ll be surprised at the number of options available, even for vegetarians:
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Green beans
- Butternut squash
- White beans
- Sweet potatoes
When you find yourself lethargic or don’t want to do any work, it could be due to the lack of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin . It keeps the red blood cells healthy and increases the body’s energy reserves, so if you’re thinking about living dairy-free, try out the following foods:
- Meat and organ meat
- Fresh leafy greens
Things To Avoid For A Dairy-Free Diet
Most dairy products contain milk which is the primary reason for health issues. So, some of the things to avoid when choosing a dairy-free diet or if you’re lactose intolerant are:
- Processed milk chocolate
- Cottage cheese
- Most kinds of milk, such as powdered, buttermilk, evaporated milk, or condensed milk
- Whipped, sour, and half-and-half cream
- Cheese, especially aged products
Another secret would be to avoid processed foods altogether, as almost 75% of them contain dairy products. The next time you spot any of the following foods, steer clear of them.
- Potato chips
- Beef hot dogs that contain cheese, lactose, or other dairy ingredients
- Fortified baby cereals
- Granola bars
- Tomato sauce
- Fish sticks
- Chicken nuggets
Before purchasing, read the product label to see if it contains lactose because most people lack the enzyme lactase, which causes their lactose intolerance to flare up. Even though it may seem insignificant, the inability to digest food is the root cause of most health problems.
Dairy-Free Meals And Dairy Substitutes
Is going dairy-free proving tougher than expected, especially considering that we are stopping you from eating many of your favorite foods? There’s no need to feel disheartened and before you order another carton of cow’s milk, let us tell you about some organic choices and non-dairy alternatives.
You can opt for unprocessed or fresh fruit and vegetables, along with wild fish, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat, spices, and herbs. Avoid foods with added ingredients and drink lots of water after eating high-fiber vegetables and fruits.
Below you’ll find a list of specific alternatives to chart a healthy meal plan (minus the dairy products).
1. Cow’s Milk
Instead of cow’s milk, you can purchase hemp, cashew nuts, almond milk, soy milk , and coconut milk.
Alternatives for dairy-free cheese would include smoked slices of tofu, nutritional yeast, homemade guacamole, and vegan cheese.
3. Ice Cream
You wouldn’t believe us if we told you about dairy-free ice cream, but it’s an actual thing, thanks to the non-dairy coconut and almond flavors. And don’t worry as they are equally delicious.
4. Processed Chocolate
A simple solution would be to opt for unprocessed organic chocolate, so check the ingredients list for cocoa solids and cocoa butter. It should contain only these two compounds, with no lactose. You can enjoy semi-sweet or dark chocolate flavors with this dairy substitute.
For a dairy-free, balanced diet, we have chosen some healthy alternatives for butter, such as olive oil , clarified butter, and coconut oil. Consumers also prefer Miyoko’s vegan dairy-free butter, which combines cashews with organic coconut oil.
To purchase dairy-free yogurt, look for products with a coconut base that makes them safe for consumption.
If you’re looking for something other than the dairy-free options we have reviewed above, there are homemade recipes you can try. We have highlighted two such recipes in this section.
1. Dairy-Free Creams
You can buy organic heavy coconut cream as a replacement for regular creams, like half-and-half varieties. It’s an excellent way to prepare a non-dairy cream without additives, preservatives, or refined sugar. The final mixture will be rich and thick, so you get an original cream taste. But to cook something, you can refer to the following recipe.
- Nut milk
- Coconut milk
- Silken tofu
- Date syrup
- Hot water
- Medjool pitted dates
Some people mix nut milk with silken tofu, which doesn’t involve any additional steps. You can even add 4 tablespoons of date syrup to 2 cups of coconut milk and mix them in a food processor or high-speed blender.
Another option would be to make the date syrup from scratch by mixing Medjool pitted dates with a cup of hot water in a food processor.
2. Dairy-Free Cottage Cheese
The preparation of dairy-free cottage cheese involves a few more steps, so first, let’s check out the ingredients you’ll need.
- ½ tablespoon herbamare
- 3 teaspoons of soaked raw cashews
- 12 ounces organic silken tofu
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, chives
- 3 teaspoons unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of nutritional yeast
The first step is to crumble the silken tofu using a fork and set it aside. Then, you’ll have to blend almond milk, herbamare, cashews, vinegar, and nutritional yeast in a food processor until the mixture achieves a smooth consistency. To this, add the silken tofu and cashews before finishing the dish with fresh herbs.
You can serve this dairy substitute with crackers, veggies, or bread but remember to store any leftover cheese in the fridge. It will remain good for 4 days, so eat it accordingly.
Tips For Outdoors
Now, we know what you’re thinking. All these options are great when buying food or staying indoors, but how will you manage to eat dairy-free when dining out or traveling?
We have got you covered in that aspect as well with our dairy-free tips for local and international travelers. Before dining out, you can check online for all the restaurants that serve gluten-free and dairy-free desserts and meals.
When you can’t find any, let the server at a restaurant know that you can’t consume dairy, and they will recommend a healthy substitute. The bottom line is – just ask! You’ll be surprised by how many weird requests a server receives, so providing dairy-free food is not a major concern.
On that note, here are some other tips that will come in handy:
1. Natural Food Market
Search for natural food markets online whenever you’re traveling, and make sure to purchase grass-fed lean proteins, berries, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
2. Ask Questions
When dining out, you need to be aware of several things, such as salad dressings which often contain dairy ingredients. It would be best to ask the server if their dishes are cooked with butter.
For breakfast, avoid french toast, pancakes, and waffles as they contain buttermilk. Also, stay away from baked goods.
3. Kosher Restaurants
When possible, dine at a Kosher restaurant since they don’t mix meat and dairy, and you can find many healthy alternatives.
4. Prepare Meals
Many people underestimate the importance of preparing meals for a trip and hinge their hopes on finding a suitable dairy alternative while traveling. But after long hours on the road, the mind begins to play tricks, and you’ll find yourself craving something milky!
Keep non-dairy snacks in handy for situations just like this. And pack all food items in air-tight bags or stainless steel containers to prevent spillage.
For perishable items, it would be best to keep them in a cooler shoulder bag or gel packs for safety.
5. Mediterranean Cuisines
If you like Asian food, you’re in luck, as munching on delicious Mediterranean cuisine  is an effective way of staying dairy-free. Mediterranean dishes have tomato-based or oil-based sauces rather than cream, while Asian restaurants hardly use dairy products.
But no matter what you do, don’t succumb to the temptation of consuming fried foods.
6. Cook Yourself
Before booking the hotel or lodge, check whether they have a kitchen that you can use. Worst comes to worst; you may have to cook for yourself to avoid dairy and stick to a diet. You can also visit a vegetarian restaurant, provided you don’t mind missing out on meat.
Managing Your Dairy Cravings
What if we said you could manage your dairy cravings through non-dairy products? We aren’t kidding because there are several ways to stay dairy-free, even if you want to consume pizza!
That’s right, because although pizza contains loads of cheese, you can go to town with the toppings. Ask the outlet to skip the cheese, or you can make pizza at home.
This is just one technique, and we have discussed other options below:
1. Glass Of Water
Rather than losing sleep over purchasing dairy-free products like rice milk to replace dairy items such as sour cream and cream cheese, you can just drink a glass of water. Drinking water is super healthy and helps detox the body by removing toxins. It’s also quite filling, and drinking 12-16 ounces of water will keep cravings in check.
The human body deals with thirst and hunger similarly, so drinking water makes you feel less hungry. That’s why some people drink water before a big meal to eat healthily.
There’s no substitute for proteins, but they are a great substitute for dairy, so it’s a win-win situation, whichever way you look at it. Eating 4 ounces of protein-rich food will significantly reduce cravings because it takes the body longer to process it than carbohydrates or fat.
This is the same reason protein is good for weight loss, and you’ll feel less hungry. We recommend keeping walnuts and almonds close at hand, or you can try canned tuna, meat slices, and salmon filets.
But don’t go overboard; stick to 4 ounces because anything more will give the body a hard time breaking down the food.
It’s about time we wake up to the reality of stress and anxiety and how mental fatigue can affect our physical health. When you’re stressed, the production of feel-good chemicals decreases while chemicals that induce anxiety increase. And most stressed people choose to binge eat, finishing a packet of chips or munching on dairy products.
If you care about your health, don’t do this. Identify the symptoms of stress in your life and try to overcome them to keep cravings in check. You can even consult a professional for help.
4. Plan Your Meals
Another way to cut down on binge eating is by planning your meals. Try to maintain a schedule for all your meals and stick to it to avoid eating at odd hours. This will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent disorders.
5. Sit Somewhere Else
This may seem like a silly suggestion but trust us because it works. It’s so simple yet effective, so whenever you feel the urge to eat something, try to remove yourself from the vicinity of that food item. In other words – out of sight, out of mind.
When you see or smell something delicious and have a deep hankering for dairy products, switch rooms or take a different table at a restaurant.
You can also go for a brisk walk or get some exercise. Some people play with their pets or even call their friends to have a chat. The bottom line is to do something, anything! But don’t give in to temptation.
The next time you’re about to buy a packet of chips or order your favorite fried foods, think about the consequences.
This is your chance to do your bit for the environment, so don’t let us down. We are counting on you! Sorry to sound like activists but read our guide again if you still think dairy foods are the way to live a healthy life.
We have referred to scientific research and placed the facts before you that all point to healthier alternatives. Just try non-dairy foods for a while, and we are sure you won’t regret it.
With that, we will sign off, and see you soon with more interesting guides.