Dairy-free is sometimes the hardest part about going plant-based. Cutting out meat is the first hurdle for most, but cutting out all dairy can be challenging. In going dairy-free, there are 3 things we’ve found to be the most beneficial in smoothing the transition.
Going Dairy-Free: 3 Must Have’s
It’s important to note that none of the below listed items do not contain any soy.
#1: Nutritional Yeast
We haven’t been using nutritional yeast as long as we’ve been dairy-free, but we’re happy we found it because it is seriously addicting.
Explaining what nutritional yeast tastes like can be tough, but we always say, a cheddar taste, parmesan style, nutrient packed deliciousness.
It’s like a super healthy version of the cheese that’s leftover on your fingers after eating cheeto puffs.
If that doesn’t make you want to try it, I don’t know what will.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that has several benefits. It’s high in B12, which most of the population (especially those cutting out meat and dairy) are deficient in. It also contains other B vitamins.
Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein and contains iron, making it another great dietary addition for those who are plant-based.
It also is low in fat and sodium, as well as gluten and sugar free.
To be honest though, it’s a great addition to just about everything.
An important tip when using nutritional yeast is to remember that as a substance, it is flaky and dry, so it is best when combined with other liquids or oils.
#2: Non-dairy milk
Photo credit to Vitacost blog.
The almond milk craze has been around for a while now, but there are more options than just almond. Coconut, cashew, soy, and mixtures of each are also available.
The latest emerging dairy-free milk is oat milk, which we’ve never tried but can believe it to be a creamy and delicious option.
It doesn’t stop there either, if you need “cream” in your coffee or other heavy cream for baking and cooking, there are healthier designated options as well. Just look for them in your dairy aisle.
We prefer almond milk, and often buy an unsweetened plain as well as an unsweetened vanilla. It’s good to note that sweetened and flavored options of non-dairy milk could have added sugars or other ingredients, so it’s important to read the ingredient list.
Much like the nut based milks, cashews serve as a creamy alternative perfect for “cheesy” sauces or creamy pasta sauces.
Buying unsalted is best, and buying in bulk is even better. We now have cashews in our cupboard all the time.
Often, recipes tell you to soak them in water overnight, but we discovered for time saving purposes, that they can be boiled for 10 minutes instead.
How to get started
I personally started using milk alternatives, like almond and coconut milk, way before I decided to give up other dairy products.
Eventually, I began to cut out other dairy products like cheese, butter, and cream to go completely diary-free.
My transition was slow and gradual, which made it all very achievable in the end.
But you can definitely go cold-turkey, especially when you have these tips to help you along the way.
Today, there are tons of great options for other dairy product alternatives from shredded and sliced cheese, cream cheese spreads, and even yogurt, which helps a lot, too.
Although we try to limit our intake of processed foods, we do enjoy the Daiya cheese alternatives that we use for our almond flour pizza.
We also use the earth balance vegan butter for our garlic butter crust and garlic butter mushrooms in our one-pot pasta.
Another product we love is Kite Hill almond milk yogurt, but usually only buy when it’s on sale.
Other than those products, we stick to the above 3 to satisfy our “dairy needs” and it works really well.
Going dairy-free may seem intimidating, especially when you realize how many of the things you eat currently contain some dairy product.
If you’re going dairy free reading labels becomes a necessity. Packaged and processed foods, even some seemingly dairy-free products will contain some type of dairy.
So make sure you read labels!