There are many reasons why you might switch to a dairy-free diet, and although it can feel like you have to make a lot of changes all at once, eating dairy-free can start with just a few small tweaks.
Next time you go shopping, think about the dairy products you normally put into your basket; some you might love, but others you might enjoy less. If you buy less of the food you don’t really like, you’re already closer to living a dairy-free lifestyle! And there are plenty of great alternatives to swap them for…
- Butter, buttermilk, butter oil, non-vegetable ghee
- Milk (cow, goat or sheep), casein, whey, skimmed milk powder, milk solids, condensed milk, evaporated milk
- Cheese, yoghurt, fromage frais, cream, crème fraiche
- Treats like milk chocolate and chocolate products, rice pudding, custards, crème caramel, dairy ice cream
- Flora Dairy Free
- Coconut, soya, almond, rice and oat-based alternatives to milk
- Soy or coconut yoghurt, dairy free alternatives to cheese, cashew or coconut cream
- Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, nut butters, dairy free alternatives to ice cream, sorbet, soya-based desserts
It’s always good to check the labels, especially for ingredients you might not expect to find like casein, whey or lactose. These could be in anything from biscuits to mayonnaise, and some vegetable and animal fats.
Cooking without dairy: keeping your nutrients topped up
If you do decide to switch to a dairy-free diet, you’ll have to make sure you still get all your recommended nutrients. These are the important ones:
- Calcium is needed for bone growth, muscle function and to help digest your food. The best way to meet your calcium needs when eating dairy-free is to eat a nutrient-rich diet full of whole foods. Key non-dairy sources include canned oily fish, green leafy veg such as kale, plus nuts, seeds, dried fruit, pulses and whole grains.
- Vitamin D helps with growth, strengthens your immune system, and keeps your muscles working. Simply go outside and enjoy the sunshine for at least 10-20 minutes – or, when there isn’t much sun to enjoy, find it in oily fish, eggs, fortified cereals, some mushrooms, liver – and Flora Dairy Free!
- Iodine helps keep your brain and nervous system at its best – and helps normal growth in children! When dairy isn’t an option, you can find non-dairy sources of iodine in white fish, shellfish, oily fish, iodized salt or supplements.
- Vitamin B12 primarily comes from animal sources. It can help reduce tiredness and fatigue, as well as more important bodily functions like normal blood cell formation and psychological function. Tuck into eggs, yeast extracts like Marmite, or fortified breakfast cereals to get this important vitamin in your diet.
Find out more about switching to a dairy-free lifestyle
There are some great sources with helpful tips on switching to a dairy-free lifestyle and cooking without dairy. Fill your tummy with yummy food and your brain with information here: