Deciding to go dairy-free can be daunting, especially when you realise how common dairy products actually are. But don’t fret; the choice you’re making is a good one! Let us provide you with a list of tips that will make the transition a whole lot easier.
1. Know your milk substitutes.
Cashew milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk and rice milk are among the many dairy-free alternatives, and taste just as good in whatever you’re making. Soy milk and cashew are great for sauce recipes thanks to their thcik and cewamy texture, whilst oat milk’s designed to be added to hot drinks are perfecr for teas and coffee. These days there are replacments for everyfrom from yoghurts and cheeses to butter and creme fraiche. In fact, even supermarkets are now creating their own ranges of milks and cheeses to meet the growing demand for vegan products.
2. Focus on what you can have rather than what you can’t.
There are plenty of dairy-free restaurants and vegan venues out there, and many foods naturally do not contain dairy. Recipes for dairy-free foods and drinks abound on the internet, and you are very likely to happen across new tasty recipes you’ve never tried before! See it as trying new things rather than as limiting yourself.
One of the things people say they miss the most or can’t give up as they don’t enjoy the vegan alternatives is cheese, so if you’re thinking of cutting out dairy we recommend steering clear of alternatives until your taste buds have adjusted and trying lots of new recipes that don’t include cheese. You’ll soon realise you don’t miss it as much as you thought you would, and you can appreciate the taste of vegan cheese without comparing them to dairy cheeses.
3. Keep your snack cupboard stocked.
Hunger often comes with diet change, so keep lots of dairy-free options around in case you find yourself reverting to the familiar. Keep a range of desserts in the fridge/freezer too, as many places don’t offer dairy-free desserts and you’re less likely to be tempted if you have sweet treats waiting at home.
4. Plan in advance.
Meal plans stop you from slipping up due to lack of preparation. Shopping lists and recipe searches every now and again are really helpful here. If you know what you’re having for dinner and have all the ingredients on hand you are less likely to opt for takeaways or ready meals containing dairy.
5. Choose vegan options.
Even if you’re not vegan, buying vegan products or making vegan choices at restaurants will ensure there is no dairy in your food. You’ll find out just how incredible vegan food is too!
Otherwise, be proactive in deciding where to go for dinner. Friends and family will often be more than willing to let you plan the outing, and doing so allows you to ask questions or plan your dairy-free meals in advance.
7. Check and double-check labels.
Some dairy ingredients have less obvious names than milk, cheese, butter and cream. Whey, lactose and casein derivatives are ones to watch out for when reading the ingredients. Google a list of names for dairy and familiarise yourself with them. Look out for dairy-free symbols, too. You might be surprised at just how many products that you wouldn’t expect contain dairy, like guacamole!
8. Get those vitamins!
Make sure you’re still getting a good amount of Vitamin D, B12, calcium, magnesium and protein despite cutting out dairy. Actively seek out food and drink that are fortified and will provide you with these vital nutrients.
Many people believe that children in particular need to consume cows milk to aid their development, but if you select the right milk for your child they will recieve all the nutrients (and more!) than they would from cows milk.
9. Less is more.
The fewer ingredients there are in a product, the more likely it is to be dairy-free. Fresh produce is a great example. If you’re in a hurry, simple products can be lifesavers.
10. Ask for advice.
The dairy-free diet is becoming more and more popular, so chat to others who are making or have already made the same change. This way, you can collect recommendations and receive encouragement at the same time. We recommend joining local vegan groups as people are happy to offer their own advice on their favourite products and where to find them in your local area.