Making the decision to cut dairy out of your diet, or even to cut back on dairy consumption, can seem like a daunting task. It can lead to concerns about missing out on preferred foods, or worse, the fear of missing out on key nutrients. It’s certainly relatable, for most of us have spent our entire lives inundated by propaganda that the Dairy Industry has perpetuated. An attempt to undo years of behavior and palate conditioning can be intimidating, to say the least. So, we’ve set out to make the transition easier, and provide you with support, by compiling a beginner’s list of dairy-free foods, regardless of your goals or intentions.
The great news is that most foods are dairy-free anyway, and the notion that dairy is a “food group” fit for humans is, simply put, a fallacy, concocted by the federal government to monetize a surplus of dairy after WWII.
The truth is, there are so many more ways to obtain superior nutrients from plant sources than anything you’ll find in dairy. And by not consuming dairy, you spare yourself the countless unhealthy byproducts of this antiquated food group. The primary key to success in reaching peak dietary wellbeing is consuming more whole foods. By cutting dairy out of your diet, or simply reducing your intake, and filling that void with plant foods, you’re already taking a monumental step toward optimum health. So, let’s jump into this overview of dairy-free foods.
Non-Dairy Food Shopping List
Shopping for things to eat without dairy is easy because, as stated above, most food doesn’t even contain dairy.
Let’s start with some of the carbohydrates you’ll want to stock up on. Fruits and vegetables will provide you with vital nutrients that are more bioavailable than if you were to obtain them from dairy (1). And a wonderful additional benefit to these foods is fiber. Fiber feeds your intestinal microbiome, leading to a healthier you (2).
- Bananas, apples, papayas, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranates, oranges, and cherries. Just to name a few.
- Kale and spinach are high in calcium and vitamin K (vitamin K is integral to calcium absorption). Carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, and cabbage. Three tablespoons of dried ground basil contains the same amount of calcium as a serving of milk, except that it’s actually more bioavailable than the calcium in dairy.
- Quinoa. Bread. Oats. Wild Rice. Barley. Beans and rice eaten together are a wonderful source of protein. This winning combination ensures you get all nine essential amino acids.
- Edamame (soy beans). Green, black or red lentils. White beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans, the primary ingredient in hummus). Peas. Both quinoa and tofu have all nine essential amino acids, and tofu is high in calcium too!
Nuts & seeds: cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seeds (this marvelous seed contains all nine essential amino acids and calcium).
- Avocados. Olives. Nut butters. See nuts & seeds above. Avocados make for a healthy snack on their own, or, put some in a smoothie to add healthy fats and extra creaminess.
This section is helpful to anyone who wants to explore the abundance of non-dairy substitutes on the market. Fortunately, you never have to feel like you’re missing out, or making a sacrifice, when there are so many amazing choices to satisfy any type of craving. Plant-based dairy alternatives have made leaps and bounds in taste, and quality, in recent years. If you’re just starting out, you’re actually really lucky to be taking this adventure in 2023. Prepare to have your mind blown!
- Dairy-free Cheese: Miyoko’s (Garlic Herb or Classic Chive spreadable cashew cheese), GOOD PLANeT (snackable Pepper Jack wedges or Parmesan shreds), Violife (shredded Cheddar or Jack), Follow Your Heart (American or Provolone slices, feta crumbles), Daiya (Pepper Jack or Mozzarella) Tofutti (cream cheese). Having a party and looking for a wonderful spread for snacks? Try Miyoko’s Roadhouse Cheddar. Put this out for the revelers and they’ll still be hanging out by the hors d’oeuvres table when the lights dim and the music dies; you might even have to forcibly remove some of your lingering guests. You can also serve up a GOOD PLANeT Smoked Gouda Wheel, which tastes amazing alone or on just about anything it touches.
- Dairy-free Milk: Oatly (Oat milk), Almond Breeze, Silk (Soy, Cashew, Almond), Pacific (Soy), So Delicious (Coconut), Good Karma (Flax), Dream Blends (Coconut & Almond, Almond Cashew & Hazelnut), Milkadamia (Macadamia).
- Dairy-free Coffee Creamer: nutpods, Silk (Oat & Almond, Original, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Mocha Almond, Creme Brulee, Caramel Almond).
- Dairy-free Butter: Miyoko’s Vegan Butter (hint of salt or unsalted), Earth Balance (original, soy free, whipped).
- Dairy-free Condiments & Sauces: Follow Your Heart (various dressings, sauces, and mayonnaise), Victoria Vegan Alfredo Sauce, Daiya (dressings and sauces).
- Dairy-free Whipped Cream: So Delicious CocoWhip, Reddi Wip Non-Dairy Whipped Topping (almond and coconut varieties).
- Dairy-free Ice Cream: So Delicious (cashew milk & coconut milk ice cream pints and bars), NadaMoo!, Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy, Haagen Dazs Non-Dairy, HaloTop Dairy-Free, Arctic Zero Non-Dairy, Whole Foods Non-Dairy, Talenti Sorbetto, Sorbabes, McConnell’s Dairy-Free.
- Dairy-free Yogurt: Forager (cashew base), So Delicious Coconut, Cocoyo Living Coconut Yogurt, Silk Almond.
Feel like your curiosity is piqued? We’re here to provide guidance and support for anyone interested in taking the dairy-free journey, wherever you are in your personal odyssey.
Check out our Dairy-Free Meal Planner!
1) Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet? Counterpoint | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic