Going dairy-free is easier than you think! These guides will help guide you through any challenges you may have with going dairy-free and give you tips on how to make the change happen.

What Does the Term “Dairy-Free” Mean?

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A product is described as dairy-free if it doesn’t include any milk or milk byproducts. It’s not the same as being vegan or lactose-free. Goats and other mammals, including cows, are the sources of dairy milk. Just like humans, female animals create it for their offspring.

Lactose-free does not always mean dairy-free! It simply indicates that a product does not contain lactose (milk sugar). 

Is Vegan Dairy-Free?

There is no dairy in any vegan products. The opposite, however, is not accurate. A vegan won’t eat non-vegan items like meat, fish, or honey, even though they don’t contain dairy.

Why Should You Ditch Dairy?

  • Lessens the suffering of animals in the dairy industry
  • Fewer harmful effects on the environment, such as consumption of water, deforestation, and methane generation
  • Milk intolerances or allergies
  • Saturated fat is abundant in full-fat dairy products, particularly cheese
  • Dairy-free diets can help with digestion and skin problems.
  • Aids in the absorption of specific nutrients or medications

Giving up dairy can improve your health, especially if you are lactose or cow’s milk sensitive. However, giving up dairy will mostly benefit the animals and the environment.

Alternatives for Dairy

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You cannot merely stop eating dairy products like cheese, butter, and milk when going dairy-free. Dairy can infiltrate your kitchen and shopping cart in a few cunning ways. Below are your best options when looking to replace dairy products in your kitchen.

Dairy-free milk

This will most likely be the simplest swap! Plant-based milk replacements have grown in popularity in recent years, and you are no longer limited to soy.

Almond, rice, oat, hemp, cashew, macadamia, pea, coconut, and more are all used to make milk. Each has a distinct flavor and serves a particular purpose. Simply test out several dairy-free milks to choose your favorite!

Dairy-free yogurt

Yogurt is arguably the next most popular dairy substitute at the grocery store. You can get unsweetened, simple variants or flavors like vanilla, berries, or a variety of others. You can also use plain soy yogurt for sour cream and cream cheese. 

Dairy-free cheese

Store-bought dairy-free cheese might be hit or miss. Don’t go looking for something that perfectly matches cow’s milk cheese; instead, look for something that tastes good and can be utilized in a comparable fashion.

Some vegan cheeses, like cream cheese, parmesan, shredded cheese, and sliceable cheese, are manufactured with nuts or vegetable oils and come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Dairy-free butter

Vegan butter has gone a long way. They have become significantly healthier while still tasting like butter made from dairy products! Dairy-free butter is definitely worth a try because it doesn’t contain harmful trans fats and occasionally even has nuts in it! 

Simply check the labels. Many varieties of margarine are also dairy-free and may be simpler to find.

Dairy-free ice cream

There is no need to include dairy in any ice cream! Find delicious, ultra-creamy ice cream that is produced from soy, coconut, almonds, or a variety of other plant-based ingredients.

You can even get cookie dough flavors, as well as elegant ice cream sandwiches, vegan chocolate-covered ice cream bars, and fancy ice cream sandwiches. 

Moreover, the majority of sorbets are already dairy- and vegan-free! Making your own dairy-free ice cream at home is a simple and healthful alternative.

Your preferred frozen fruit can be turned into a sorbet by blending it, or it can be combined with chocolate powder, coconut cream, and any other decadent ingredients you can think of! 

A Beginner’s Guide to Going Dairy-Free

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Educate yourself

Identify why you’d like to give up dairy. Write down your reasons so you can remember why you’re making this change when things become tough!

Learning about animal welfare and how dairy cows are treated can be a major motivator to stick to a dairy-free diet. Next, look into delightful dairy-free foods that you’d like to try. Make a shopping list for your next vacation and get thrilled about new food sensations and textures!

Give attention to what you can eat

Negative feelings can be triggered whenever we remove something or restrict ourselves. Consider all the foods you are still able to eat rather than what you can no longer have. If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, you can still eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds that come from non-dairy animals.

Examine the labels

You’d be surprised at how many dairy-containing items there are! Forget milk cartons and butter blocks. Dairy can be found in a wide variety of foods, including bread, breakfast bars, margarine, potato chips, tomato sauce, and vinaigrette.

This implies that your next few grocery shop trips will be a little longer than normal because you’ll have to double-check practically every label — except those that indicate “vegan.” But don’t worry, once you know which products are dairy-free, you can just keep buying them without worrying.

Taking it one step at a time

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If cutting off dairy completely seems like too much of a challenge, just start by substituting the things that are most convenient for you. This can be coconut ice cream or oats made with almond or oat milk! Work your way up to the types of food that you love the most and that you believe are going to be the hardest to give up.

Put nutrition first

Certain dairy-free substitutes do have a distinct nutritional profile or are healthier than others. If you regularly substitute unfortified almond milk for cow’s milk, for example, you can eventually run out of protein, calcium, vitamin D, or iodine.

Choose soy or pea-based dairy-free milk and yogurt substitutes for their higher protein content and make sure they are all fortified with essential nutrients.

Experiment with new food

Never tried vegan cheese before? When considering dairy-free options, keep an open mind and simply give a few a try before making a decision. It might be challenging to reproduce certain foods, especially cheese!

There are numerous store-bought and handmade options. The simplest one is usually nutritional yeast, which you can add to pasta or use in recipes! Remove the notion that each meal necessitates the use of a dairy product; many Asian recipes are already dairy-free.

Organize your kitchen

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Consider giving away any remaining yogurt, cream, cheese, or chocolate that is made with dairy. In most cases, the adage “If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth” comes into play.

If you know that everything in your cupboard and refrigerator will be “allowed to eat,” making the switch and cutting off dairy will be a lot simpler. If you share a home with someone who doesn’t want to cut out dairy, provide them with their own boxes to store dairy-based foods in the refrigerator and pantry.

Eating out

This is one of the most difficult aspects of adjusting your diet! Whenever someone else prepares your meals for you, you must let them know that you do not want any dairy products to be used in them. Don’t be afraid to discuss your requirements with the waiter or chef at a restaurant – and maybe even look at their menu online ahead of time! 

Make a commitment

Commit to completely abstain from dairy for two weeks. You may overcome the obstacle and become more creative by adopting this attitude. Bring friends along to make it more enjoyable, and watch how quickly it becomes second nature to you.

If you’re looking for a restaurant in the Denver-metro area that serves dairy-free food, look no further than Wave The Grain! Please contact us at 720-335-6942 for special orders!