Have you recently decided to eliminate dairy from your diet due to food allergies or because you are adopting a vegan lifestyle? Cutting dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese and butter, from your daily meals will certainly require a change in your usual grocery shopping and cooking habits, but the many dairy substitutes and nondairy replacements available at the market will make the switch easy. Here’s how to remove dairy from your diet and still eat deliciously.

Woman with popsicle

The health benefits of removing dairy from your diet

Dairy products are excellent sources of key nutrients, such as calcium, vitamins D and B12, riboflavin, phosphorus and protein. Because dairy products are derived from animals, however, they are also sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and full-fat varieties are high in calories. Lowering your saturated fat and calorie intake can improve your heart health, reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes, and promote healthy weight maintenance. If you or someone in your family has a milk allergy, there is no question that a dairy-free diet is essential for health, safety and quality of life. Further, if you are giving up dairy for ethical reasons, you are promoting the humane treatment and health of dairy animals.

Replacing cow's milk

Every dairy product has a nondairy alternative. Milk from cows and other animals is used as a beverage and in recipes for both sweet and savory foods. Nondairy milks, such as from almond, soy and rice, are available in a yummy variety of flavors and can replace milk in most recipes. Coconut milk is another nondairy choice that will give your beverages and recipes a tropical taste. If a recipe calls for buttermilk, simply stir 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into 1 cup of soy milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Replacing cream and creamer

Eliminating cream doesn't mean you will never be able to dollop whipped cream onto your desserts or flavor your coffee with specialty creamers. In addition to nondairy whipped toppings for your favorite desserts, you can find soy-based creamers to enjoy with your coffee. Give flavored nondairy milk a try in your coffee.

Replacing yogurt

With more people giving up dairy for health or dietary reasons, the selection of soy-based yogurts is growing. Peruse the supermarket yogurt section and you'll find plain, vanilla and fruit flavored soy yogurts. Soy yogurt seamlessly replaces dairy-based yogurt as a snack and in recipes.

Replacing cheese

Tofu and vegan cheeses are delicious nondairy substitutes for nearly all types of cheese. You may have to visit a natural foods store to find vegan cheeses, but tofu is available at most grocery stores. You can use crumbled, seasoned tofu in place of cottage cheese or ricotta and yeast flakes for Parmesan cheese. You can even make your own nondairy cheese -- do some research online or scour dairy-free cookbooks for recipes.

Replacing ice cream

If ice cream is one of your favorite desserts, you'll be pleasantly surprised at the vast selection of nondairy ice creams made from soy, rice and coconut. Though many sherbets contain milk, sorbets are typically dairy free. Adding nondairy sherbet and sorbets to your shopping list can expand your go-to dessert options while satisfying your need for cold, refreshing treats.

Replacing butter

Your morning toast habit and love of baking don't have to end just because you're eliminating butter from your diet. Dairy-free or vegan butter substitutes come in stick, spreadable and shortening forms and can be used in many recipes, in addition to adding moistness and flavor to your breakfast foods. If you opt for margarine, go with organic and trans fat-free varieties.

Read labels

Just because you eliminate the obvious dairy in your diet (i.e., milk, yogurt, cheese and butter) doesn't mean you are in the clear. Dairy may lurk in other everyday foods. Read labels on all packaged foods before buying or consuming. Be on the lookout for -- and avoid -- these common dairy-derived ingredients: casein, whey, ghee, lactic acid, lactalbumin, lactoglobulin, lactose, milk sugar and recaldent (found in dental products).


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Comments on "Easy ways to remove dairy from your diet"

Martin July 11, 2012 | 10:57 AM

Much talk on this with colleagues today Whether this conapmy is real or fake (I lean towards fake, but I don't see the point of it), all the kneejerk FUD and way-cool marketing talk here is making more of this than it deserves. scnt has become mainstream since 1996 and, statements to the contrary .to produce cows along with pigs and the everpopular sheep. (Even dogs!) High-producing livestock sell for many tens of thousands $ on market yes, businesses use science for profit (gasp) .and yes, clones are doubtless in some foods today . Once you've done your due PubMed diligence to get the facts of it, if what you're left with is the willies .fine but don't spread it here. that's a gut reaction .What I want to know is: what really is the issue? Is there anything special about cloning that demands real consideration? As I see it, it breaks down to issues that are already under scrutiny .not to lessen them, but they're known . 1. reproductive tech generally . lots of issues, but keep in mind we're talking animals not infertile people. Artificial insemination is already the rule in agriculture, it's nothing new, and cloning doesn't change the process 2. animal cruelty. again, no issues that AI .and of corse the use of animals for food don't already bring. 3. longevity. that's the crux of it I think .SCNT just extends the life of a specific gene set, ethically no different from extending the life of an individual 4. food contamination. The products are genetically identical, so why would there be any new issue? And besides this case is dairy ..that comes from cows old enough and healthy enough to have had calves, people, wouldn't diseases have a chance to exhibit? we're not talking about embryos or even veal here . 5. sanctity of life . no different from AI issue here, except maybe prolonging the gene set is actually helping value the life of the individual Am I missing something or is there some special issue that makes cloning different from standard practices already in livestock agriculture? If not, then at least be honest about following your gut reaction and not an analysis of the science and ethics of it at all.- Mel

Beaner July 10, 2012 | 8:36 AM

I don't deny that eliminating dairy from your diet has a lot of health benefits. The issue that I have is if I eliminate dairy from my diet why would I want to substitute all the over processed non dairy foods that are available? Soy "cheese" for example is generally an over processed item. I personally don't know if I could completely eliminate dairy for this reason. I do realize that I can make different dairy replacements at home that would not be so overly processed but honestly with having children I don't have the luxury of spending hours in the kitchen. Does anyone have any suggestions of non dairy items that can be purchased that are not so overly processed or contain GMO's?

MB November 01, 2011 | 6:32 PM

Soy is another ingredient that causes allergies so I don't know why that is suggested.

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