Remember as kids when our mothers would force us to drink a glass of milk every day, and in some cases, two glasses, because it was good for health? It was supposed to be crucial for early and overall development for us. A lot of us got into that habit with repeated bribes, scolding and mostly, just plain tantrum throwing.
As adults, dairy has become a normal part of our diets. Not necessarily as a glass of milk but as part of our morning coffees and teas, our beloved pizzas and pastas that carry loads of cheese and when we turn to that tub of ice cream on days that are just too melancholy and depressing. So why go ‘dairy free’?
65% of humans worldwide are intolerant to lactose, the sugar found in milk, after their baby years. One study found that people in areas where livestock has been historically scarce are more intolerant of lactose than in areas where sheep and cows were easy to come by. Not just about the availability of milk, but when people go dairy free, they see significant improvements in their skin and hair, with regards to their gut health and also in terms of better weight management. Makes you think about all the money you spent on hair and skincare when you actually just had to let go one ingredient.
Letting go of something that has such a strong place in our diets can be a cause for doubt and denial. So here is a list of dairy alternatives to make the transition easier if you are considering it, and even if you are not, it doesn’t hurt to know the wide variety of options out there just waiting to be tried and loved.
1. Almond Milk
This is probably the most popular dairy alternative because of how delicious and cheap it is, not to mention the most accessible. Its flavor is not as strong as other plant-based milks, so that might make for an easier transition.
A tip here, when it comes to substituting regular milk with almond milk in sweets, you will notice a certain lightness and enhanced flavor to your desserts. And the taste it gives to coffee and tea is certainly loved, which is why assistants making coffee runs get fired when they get their boss’s order wrong, with regular milk instead of almond milk.
2. Soy Milk
Leonard Hofstadter’s milk of choice, it is the second most popular milk after almond and a good option for you if you are allergic to nuts or looking to cut a few calories. Soy milk is a bit of an acquired taste but it is worth acquiring considering that it provides just as much protein as regular milk.
3. Coconut Milk
This is a much thicker and creamier plant milk than the other alternatives. While it is a popular ingredient in a lot of Asian cuisines, it can be an effective substitute for desserts and coffees as well. Your Asian friends will be surprised to know that there is something in your house that they can borrow in times of need after all.
Interesting: Different Uses and Health Benefits of Coconut
4. Rice Milk
This is a sweeter option for people who prefer that taste. It is somewhat more watery in consistency compared to other milks and much lower in calories.
Other options include:
- Oat milk
- Hemp milk
- Flax milk
- Cashew milk
After covering the needs of our morning coffee, we need to seek dairy alternatives for our food, that is, cheese and butter. When it comes to butter, there are some options readily available like vegan butter. But there is still a huge variety to be explored in the dairy free world of this beloved ingredient. A lot of people swear by nut butters like cashew and peanut butter. Coconut and almond butters are equally popular. For those of you who cook, you can use coconut oil, olive oil or other vegetable oils.
Avocados are very versatile in the kitchen and are actually known as ‘butter fruit’. Yes, they can be used for more than just guacamole. Their creamy taste and texture along with high fatty content (the good kind) make for an easy substitute and even a marked preference over regular butter. Bananas are another ingredient that can be used in place of butter, for sweeter recipes, should you have a preference for it.
All the cheese enthusiasts in the house, sit up and take note of this information about dairy free cheeses, because god forbid people have to ever live without this absolute masterpiece ingredient. Dairy cheese delivers protein, calcium, fat and sodium. It can be replicated in two ways – in the form of soft and hard cheese.
Soft cheese can be replicated by soy or nut-based versions. A blend of vegetable oils, pea protein and tapioca starch is also used to achieve similar results. Tofu is popularly used to mimic the texture of cottage or ricotta cheese. Cashews, almonds, macadamia and brazil nuts also make for excellent dairy free cream or crumbly cheese, and you can also make this at home to satisfy the DIY bug in yourself. Hard cheese is harder to replicate for its fat content and texture.
Remember how your mouth waters when you look at that stretchy piece of cheese in a pizza commercial? That is the casein – a milk protein that’s making it happen. Nutritional yeast is a good substitute, in terms of taste, and it is high in Vitamin B12 which is an added bonus. Cheese has more knock offs than a Bottega Venetta handbag with companies and brands trying to replicate it by using vegetable oils, pea protein and starch. Soy protein and nuts are also commonly used bases.
It is important to note that dairy free cheeses contain a lot more ingredients than issues in Vogue and regular cheese and are also much higher in carbs. So be mindful of your requirements and find a suitable alternative. Tofu and homemade cheese from nuts are great nutritionally.
Now that we have hunted down acceptable substitutes for the three most used forms of dairy, let’s look at yogurt and ice-cream, our comfort foods and rather loved snacks. Vegan yogurt and ice cream are available in most stores, and is increasing in its popularity. You can also buy a yogurt making kit and do it yourself.
Going dairy free is a significant dietary change to make considering the amount of protein and vitamins present in milk, and for a lot of Americans, the only form of healthy food they consume during the day. Giving it up must also be supported by mindful choosing of the alternatives, including any missing protein or vitamins by way of your other diet to keep your overall nutritional balance.
The market for dairy alternatives is huge and you will not have any trouble finding what you want. The variety and taste make sure that stepping away from milk and milk products is not just something you do for health and the environment, but because of a whole new world of health benefits and gratification of taste buds that is pretty impossible to come away from once you get into it.
A lot of these alternatives, including milk, cheese, yogurt, butter etc can be prepared at home very easily, should you want to or are worried about the cost. The one advice we would like to give you is to make sure to evaluate your current dairy consumption, and find a substitute accordingly, because the ultimate aim is better health, which is only possible through mindful consumption.