Living Dairy-Free: Where to Start
Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Making any changes to our diet can be challenging and overwhelming at times. It can often feel like an emotional roller coaster when you realize that you need to cut an entire food group out of your diet. After going over my food sensitivity results with my naturopath and hearing the news of needing to cut dairy out of my diet, I remember my mind racing, sweaty palms and my life flashing before my eyes (mostly cupcakes, ice-cream sundaes and cookies). I didn’t want to believe it and even though I knew it was the confirmation I was looking for; it didn’t make it any easier. I remember leaving the office with a long list of things I should never eat again and a short list of things I should eat instead – none of them sounded particularly appetizing.
I have put together a list of basic staple items most people have in their fridge. This is a great place to start when switching from animal dairy products to plant-based "dairy" products. Although these suggestions below seem simple enough, I know they are not always easy to put into practice. My journey to living dairy-free and being happy about it didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t always follow my own advice and I always regretted it afterwards. To transition successfully to living dairy-free, start small.
I also want to note that I have not been compensated in anyway by these brands to include them on this list. I genuinely enjoy these products and I am excited to share them with you!
These are some staple items in your fridge that can be an easy and accessible place to start:
Switch your regular milk with a plant-based milk. Over the years, I have switched from rice milk to soy milk to almond milk and now to oat milk. Oat milk has been by far my favourite. It provides the perfect natural sweetness and creaminess. My favourite brand is Oat Canada for its zero sugar, flavour and consistency. It has a light flavour and sweetness which makes it perfect for baking, smoothies, cereal and coffee. I find some plant-based milks leave a slight film on the roof of your mouth that I don’t get from Oat Canada.
2. ICE CREAM
Ice cream one was of the saddest things I had to say goodbye to when I first went dairy-free. At the time, there were a few options, but nothing you actually wanted to eat. Today, there are so many ice-cream alternatives on the market that it can be difficult to choose just one! My favourite brand is Coconut Bliss. I love coconut bliss because it is an organic, fair-trade product that is smooth, creamy and rich in flavour. They have a variety of flavours to choose from, many of which are naturally sweetened.
This is another tough one because it literally seems to be on and in just about everything! There are many cheese alternatives out there – some are great and some are not so great. One brand I have been enjoying a lot lately is Violife. They have a variety of products such as a parmesan style wedge, feta style block, cream cheese, shredded cheese and cheese slices. The products I find myself buying regularly are the feta style block, parmesan wedge and the cream cheese. I find these products to be creamy, flavourful (in the right way) and can feel like you are working with the dairy equivalent when using it in a recipe.
I was never a big yogourt fan, so the thought of not eating yogourt again didn’t upset me. The more yogourt alternatives that came on the market from brands I had been buying other products from sparked my interest to try them. My go-to yogourt is the Maison Riviera unsweetened plain coconut delight. The consistency is creamy, smooth and the flavour has a slight coconut taste to it, which I enjoy. It is 0 grams of sugar and 120 calories for 3/4 of a cup. I find with some of the other brands, the consistency is too watery, it can often separate or has a high sugar content. For those who don’t enjoy the coconut flavour, they now have an oat-based version on the market. This is the perfect base to throw some fruit and homemade granola onto for that mid-morning snack.
Just like cheese, butter seems to be in everything! I have tried many brands, but my go-to butter replacement is Melt Organic Spread. There are a few reasons why I enjoy this product. Firstly, the taste is the closest thing I have had to butter and for that reason, it works well from baking to toast. Secondly, this product is organic, which is important as many non-dairy butter alternatives are made with non-organic and GMO ingredients. They also carry butter sticks which make baking quick and easy!
You may need to experiment with brands to find what you like, but it can be a fun experience, especially when you find “the one”.
I hope this has been a useful article for you to help take that first step in living your dairy free life.