How To Go Dairy-Free
Going dairy-free can be a major change in your life, and a seemingly impossible transition to undertake. But as the world heads in a plant-based direction and more people discover that cow’s milk is not a health food, (in fact, it’s the opposite), it’s more important than ever to know how to successfully go dairy free and understand all of the benefits that your body will reap for doing so.
1. Identify Your “Why”
There are so many reasons to kick dairy to the curb, and before embarking on your journey it can be helpful to get clear about your motivation. Are you doing so for your own health and athletic performance, for the planet, or animal welfare concerns? Take a moment and identify your “why” so that you can refer back to it if you start to wander off of the dairy-free path.
Going dairy-free can be challenging for many reasons, and research suggests that cheese is addictive (in a similar way to drugs are), due to a chemical called casein that triggers the brain’s opioid receptors. Knowing this can help you understand why it might not be easy at first. But we’re here to help you! Once you identify your “why” it is time to solidify your decision with confidence.
Build A Dairy-Free Support System
Pro tip: If you know someone who can join you on your dairy-free journey, it can be helpful to have support along the way, in the same way it’s great to have a gym buddy. While there are many tips online to help you along the way, our popular Dairy Detox will give you everything you need to easily go dairy free. We even have a dairy-free guide for kids!
2. Take Inventory Of Your Favorite Dairy Products
If you’re not following a plant-based diet, you might be surprised to learn how many dairy products sneak into so many of our favorite foods. Some of them are obvious like milk, cheese, ice cream, and coffee creamer, but dressings, desserts, even some potato chips and many baked-goods often contain dairy as well.
So check out the contents of your fridge and your panty and get clear about where you’re getting dairy in your diet. And we can even help you with this. Check out our fridge makeover. This can help if you love a cold glass of cow’s milk in the morning, can’t live without your yogurt and granola for a snack at lunchtime, and have to have shredded cheese on your tacos at dinner.
It can be overwhelming to think about giving up these foods, especially when you love cheese, but we have good news for you: you don’t have to! Just about any animal-based dairy product that can be found in today’s world has an equally delicious, plant-based alternative that will help you completely eliminate dairy.
3. Swap Out Cow’s Milk For Plants
There are endless options for deliciously dairy-free cheeses, milks, yogurts, dressings, creamers, ice creams, and more. They are often made out of soy, oats, nuts, seeds, legumes and other good-for-you ingredients. To identify which brands to look out for at the grocery story, check out The Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free Alternatives and our Dairy-Free Meal Plan.
4. Experiment In The Kitchen
While picking up rich oat milk, tasty cashew cheese, or delicious soy ice cream at the store can be an easy thing to do, don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen. There may be times when you can’t find exactly what you want at the store that’s dairy free. That’s where you come in!
There are thousands of dairy-free recipes on the web that allow you to make dairy-free milk, cheese, and more at home. You can start by simply typing “recipe” into the search bar on our website and you’ll get more results than you might know what to do with! Once you’ve tried all of those, we also like, “This Cheese is Nuts!” by Julie Piatt and “Simple Happy Kitchen” by Miki Mottes. And you can always search “dairy-free recipes for [insert your cravings here]” and try new things. It’s really fun once you get started!
5. Beware Of Hidden Dairy
As we mentioned before, dairy lurks in so many of the cracks and crevices of food that we consume on a normal basis. Take some time to learn about what specific labels mean on food packaging, especially when it comes to “dairy-free” vs “non-dairy” labels.
6. Spread The Dairy-Free Word
It may sound a little too good to be true, but when you’re living dairy-free you’re doing yourself, and the whole world, a favor.
Your Body Will Thank You
65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. Are you? Once someone who is lactose intolerant consumes cows’ milk or other lactose-containing dairy products, symptoms can occur within 30 minutes to two hours. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea. And despite what the dairy industry has led you to believe, dairy products don’t actually lead to strong bones, better athletic performance, or increased health.
The Planet Will Thank You
Not only does dairy do a body bad, but it does the planet bad as well. Dairy farming pollutes precious waterways, pumps out harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and destroys local ecosystems. Did you know that it takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce just 1 gallon of cow’s milk? That’s right! By ditching dairy completely you are taking a lot of pressure off of the planet.
The Animals Will Thank You
If nonhuman animals could speak to humans using words that we understand, it is fair to assume that they would ask us to stop exploiting their reproductive systems so that humans can drink their breast milk.
Although the dairy industry would lead you to believe that cows (and other animals used by the industry) live happy lives and willingly give up their breast milk, the reality is much more grim. Like all mammals, cows must give birth to lactate and make milk. They are often artificially inseminated by humans and forced to give birth year after year. Like humans, they carry their babies for 9 long months, only to be separated from their babies by dairy farmers and forced to become milking machines. The dairy industry causes a lot of heartbreak to make a product that just makes us sick, unhealthy, and hurts the planet.
Ready To Make The Switch?
Now that you’ve learned why and how to go dairy-free, don’t be a stranger. Our experts at Switch4Good are here to guide and support your dairy-free journey. We’re excited for your life-changing transformation that lies ahead!