There are so many reasons to go dairy-free, but the hardest part isn’t giving up cheese or ice cream, it’s the lifestyle change of choosing foods that aren’t dairy based. If you’re going dairy-free for a temporary amount of time (while you’re breastfeeding, to test for allergies, etc), you probably don’t want to change how you eat and just want the alternative dairy products which can be really awful tasting. If you just had fake cheese, you would definitely think that going dairy-free is impossible because it tastes so awful.
I’ll be honest: pizza with fake cheese on it is f-ing gross.
The best option is to replace what you can with alternatives, and then add meals to your weekly menu that don’t require cheese/milk/etc. I’ve tasted all the alternatives that are available in grocery stores within a 30-mile radius from Grand Rapids, and there have been some surprising winners.
I haven’t really drank regular milk since I was a teenager so replacing milk wasn’t something I really had to think about. If you just drink it in a glass, there isn’t a great replacement but if you’re over the age of 8 I don’t think you should be just drinking milk in a glass anyways. I use almond milk because the only use I have for milk is to put it in smoothies or to have it with cereal once in a while. I don’t want extra sugar with my milk because I normally have plenty of sugar in my cereal, so I buy Unsweetened Almond Milk from Costco.
If you’re really concerned about additives in your almost milk, I’ve heard it’s really easy to make but I have never been that worried about it to spend a half hour making milk that will go bad within a week.
You can use just regular Almond milk, but it tastes like garbage in coffee, so I use Silk Almond Milk Creamer which is the closest to dairy creamer I have found. Almond milk creamers are creamier than coconut milk ones, but they can contain a higher amount of sugar so you will want to read your label if you’re limiting sugar.
Most of the dairy-free ice creams are great, but if you have to choose between them, choose an almond milk based one and one with a flavor stronger than vanilla. I found that with a coconut milk vanilla ice cream, the flavor of coconut was overpowering the vanilla and it’s not as creamy as an almond milk ice cream.
I think Breyer’s Dairy-Free ice cream tastes 99% the same as regular ice cream so if you are really fussy about your ice cream, this is a safe bet. I also really liked the ice cream sandwiches by So Delicious because they are a small, single serving size and taste excellent.
Almost all of the fake cheese is garbage. If your favorite treat is chips and cheese, you will need to switch to chips and guac or chips and salsa. I bought some before posting this to check if the fake cheese had gotten any better recently, and while it does look better it does not taste better. It tastes like a fake soy replacement; like sad cheese.
I liked this brand of slices, but honestly, if you can avoid putting cheese on something I would suggest it.
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are the best alternative. Depending on what you need butter for, you can replace with Coconut oil or vegan margarine too. Shortening is also dairy-free, so if you’re making cookies you can replace the butter with vegetable shortening. It’s not “healthy”, but it’ll work.
Technically most margarine doesn’t have dairy in it, you just have to triple-check the ingredients list to make sure it doesn’t have one of the “secret” dairy ingredients like casein or lactic acid. Alternatively, you could just get Earth Balance Buttery Spread because it tastes great and has the Vegan claim on their packaging. They have a bunch of different options if you also need Soy-Free or other requirements, I just haven’t tried them so I can’t offer my opinion on them.
ONLY So Delicious Coconut Yogurt tastes like regular yogurt. It’s the same consistency, tastes great and comes in a bunch of flavors.
I haven’t tried baking with this cream cheese, but Daiya’s cream cheese alternative is really great for spreading on bagels. It tastes almost exactly the same as regular cream cheese.
Milk chocolate has milk right in the name, but it’s not something you think you’re giving up when you go dairy-free. Enjoy Life brand has a few different options for vegan chocolate so you can continue to make a lot of the same recipes as you did before. They even make cookies you can buy so you don’t have to make everything from scratch. If your local store doesn’t have Enjoy Life in stock, it’s always available on Amazon for about the same price.
Hah! Bet you thought you just had to give up cheese, but noooo, companies put milk into random foods so you have to check labels for literally everything. I really like the unhealthy, bleached, white bread for grilled cheese and avocado toast so I was happy to find that Lumberjack bread doesn’t have milk in it (it’s made in a facility that uses milk products, so depending on how strict you need to be you might need to find another solution).
Almost all granola bars have dairy in them even if they don’t have chocolate chips in them. Most of the Lara Bars and Rx Bars are dairy-free so you can have those without a problem, and there is one Nature Valley bar that doesn’t have dairy in it.
Products that Surprisingly Don’t Have Dairy:
Yup, you would think these have dairy but they are just loaded with High-Frustose Corn Syrup. So, still not healthy but an easy fix for a chocolate craving that won’t give you the side affects dairy does.
Also a food you would expect to have dairy but doesn’t. They don’t advertise that it’s dairy-free so you will have to check the label of whatever your favorite flavor is. I checked the Strawberry one and it was safe.
Food Bloggers/How to easily find Dairy-Free Recipes
Now that you’ve gone through all the replacements and your house is dairy-free, you have to think of actual meals to make that don’t include dairy in them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to search Pinterest for recipes that follow diet plans that happen to be dairy-free like Whole 30 or Vegan recipes. Some of my favorite food bloggers to follow are:
She definitely makes a variety of foods, but I like to follow her recipes for baked goods like desserts.
She is definitely the cutest vegan blogger and is fun to follow on Instagram. Since I still eat meat, I will take vegan recipes and then just add meat to them. For example, with vegan carbonara, I would make the vegan sauce, and then just add chicken on top of the recipe.
She is a paleo blogger, but paleo is also dairy-free so you can follow her recipes for ideas as well.