There are plenty of reasons why ditching dairy is worth considering.
From environmental protection and animal rights, to clearing your skin and helping your digestion, removing dairy from your diet is incredibly beneficial to both you and the world. But it’s a lot harder than a person might think! It’s not just about avoiding milk, cheese, yoghurt, and butter themselves, but all the foods they go in. That means croissants, breads, crackers, biscuits, custard, muffins, mashed potatoes, and more. If you’re going dairy free, you need to be cautious about what you’re eating, and what’s hidden in your food. To make it easier, follow our quick tips:
- Read the labels
You’ve got to be vigilant! Always read the label and keep an eye out for ingredients called whey protein or casein, which are forms of dairy. Unfortunately, this’ll make it a lot harder! Products like granola, boxed cereal, prepared breadcrumbs, deli meats, protein bars, energy bars, and vegetarian meat products can contain one of the two. Careful what you eat – always read the labels.
- Double check with the waiter
Eating out at restaurants can be a bit tricky. Even though it won’t seem evident or be listed on the menu, many dishes are cooked with cream or butter to add a bit of flavour. The good news is that as long as you speak to your waiter, you should be alright. Sometimes restaurants use pre-prepared foods or make one dish in bulk, so it might not be possible to alter those orders. But in general, meals are made from scratch, so as long as you specify you’re dairy-free, they can usually accommodate!
- If you’re not sure, go vegan!
Because keeping clear of food products that contain dairy can be so tedious, consider this: when in doubt, go vegan. If a product is labelled as vegan, it won’t contain dairy, saving you the bother of reading the labels and figuring it out yourself. Many grocery stores have sections dedicated to vegan products, so if you’re looking for a quick snack and a staple product, it’s a good idea to start there!
- Explore substitutes
There are plentyof people who go dairy-free, and because of this, there are plenty of dairy substitutes out there. Embrace the adventure! Try different combinations in different drinks and dishes. Oat milk with your coffee, coconut milk for cooking, and almond milk for your smoothies. There’s so much more out there than just soy milk. Switch it up and find what works for you! Fun fact: cashew cream is great for thickening sauces and other dishes.
- Remind yourself why
Whatever the reason you chose to go dairy free, it’s very likely a good one. Health, weight management, environment, animal rights, or of course, decreasing menopause symptoms, are all great reasons to cut dairy out. It can be VERY tempting to grab that pint of ice cream and give up but remember: the reason you cut it out in the first place is much more important than satiating a 9pm craving. Plus, most dark chocolate bars are dairy-free, so you can still have a quality dessert (top tip: if dark chocolate is too bitter for you, heat up a small amount of almond milk in a saucepan and pour it over finely chopped dark chocolate in a bowl and mix – now you’ve got a sweeter dark chocolate fondue!)
Overall, cutting out dairy might at first seem like a difficult task, but it’s completely manageable and the benefits definitely outweigh the costs. It’s great for your skin, for your digestive tract, for your weight, for your general well-being, and definitely for the planet! Of course, be sure you get in enough calcium through other sources, like leafy greens, nuts, and soy products. Otherwise, with these tips and a ready-set mind, you’re good to go!