Dairy – sometimes it feels like it’s everywhere!

Dairy is often the first thing people try to tackle when going vegan, and for great reason! Dairy is not designed for us to consume, it causes many of us health issues such as bloating and IBS… but there are so many delicious alternatives out there too, so it’s a great place to make a change. 

NB: for cheese cravings, head to the bottom of this post.

How Can I Ditch Dairy For Good?

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Don’t We Need Cow’s Milk For Calcium?

Thanks to clever marketing and ‘research’ paid for by the dairy industry, many people believe that we need to drink cows’ milk to get enough calcium into our diet. This is not true at all! Dairy can actually do more harm than good. High intake can increase the risk of prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer. Plus, dairy products can be high in saturated fat as well as retinol (vitamin A), which at high levels can paradoxically weaken bones. Ironic!

Many independent studies have found no stand-out link between dairy, calcium and bones at all. One large-scale Harvard study followed 72,000 women for two decades and found no evidence that drinking milk can prevent bone fractures or osteoporosis, for example. 

How Can I Ditch Dairy For Good?

Dairy is not designed for humans. A mother cow produces it for her young, and just like human breast milk, it’s unique to the species and even the individual baby. A cow’s breastmilk is specially designed to grow a tiny calf into a huge cow, which is why 60% of people are lactose-intolerant – it simply wasn’t made for our bodies. It’s actually a little strange to drink the milk of another species, when most of us are weaned from our own mothers as children.

To briefly address the animal cruelty side, dairy is an extremely distressing process from start to finish. Female cows are forcibly impregnated on all but the smallest of farms, and kept in a perpetual state of pregnancy until they don’t produce enough milk to be seen as economically productive. They are then ‘disposed’ of. The resulting calf is either shot at birth or raised for cheap veal. Either way, mother and child are separated shortly after birth, and pine for each other. All so we can steal their milk. Sounds crazy, but there’s a whole industry trying to convince us that we need dairy. Marketing is really heavy around dairy!

The great thing is, there are so many foods out there containing the nutrients we get from dairy, but none of the side effects or cruelty.

So Where Do Vegans Get Calcium?

(the average adult should consume 1000mg calcium per day)

  • ½ cup firm tofu – 850mg
  • 1 cup almond milk – 516mg
  • ¼ cup whole sesame seeds – 280mg
  • 1 cup spinach – 245mg
  • 1 cup kidney or pinto beans – 145mg

NB: there are also many milks, cereals, breads and juices that are fortified with calcium, so you can grab extra this way. It will say on the label if they contain additional calcium, and how much. I also have a dedicated post on Basic Vegan Nutrition – so do check it out if you need more ideas!

As you can see, it’s really easy to get enough calcium in your diet as a vegan. But what about finding those dairy substitutes? 

How Can I Ditch Dairy For Good?

What Is Dairy?

Good question! Basically, it is any food made from the milk of mammals. Traditional dairy products include:

  • Milk from cows, goats etc
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Yoghurt
  • Ice-cream
  • Dairy chocolate
  • Snacks and processed foods that contain milk in the ingredients list
  • Whey, casein and lactose – all derived from dairy, and found in cheese and processed foods. Whey is particularly common in protein powders, but there are plenty of alternatives such as pea, soy, hemp.
  • Please note that Lacto-free brands such as Arla are NOT vegan. Watch out for them in the ‘free from’ fridge section.

NB: you may have seen the wording ‘may contain‘ eggs/milk etc underneath the ingredients list. This is simply a warning that the product was made in the same factory as other foods containing them. For example, if an item says ‘may contain milk’, it is still safe for vegans to eat (as long as the actual ingredients are ok!), but was present in the same factory.

How Do I Start Ditching Dairy?

If you’re new to dairy alternatives, think about where you consume dairy frequently. For many of us, it’s in tea and coffee, or cereal. Start buying cartons of plant-based milks and experiment with your drinks and breakfast. You can also begin by exploring the ‘free from’ refrigerator section of the supermarket, as that contains many kinds of vegan cheese, yoghurts and creams. Find a starting point that works for you. How Can I Ditch Dairy For Good?

Plant-based milk is full of calcium, other nutrients and it can be cheaper than dairy too. You can buy organic (YEP, ORGANIC) soy milk from Tesco for £1 per litre, or 59p for regular soya. Here’s a tip – grab it from the long-life section, by the tea and coffee, as it’s cheaper and lasts longer meaning you can buy in bulk. Don’t like soya? Next to it you’ll find almond, hemp, coconut, cashew and a load of other milks. If you’re an environmentalist, oat milk is one of the best for the planet. Grab one of each and see what you prefer. Start using it in your cereal, tea and baking. You’ll never look back once you find one you like – I promise!

Lastly, be kind to yourself. If you need to make small steps, that’s fine. You can replace one thing at a time if needed.

Would you like to know how to specifically get rid of those cheese cravings? I have a fantastic video right here – give it a watch and let me know if it was useful!

If you found this post useful, but feel like you need personal motivation, accountability to keep you on track, expert one-to-one advice regarding specifics – consider Vegan Coaching! It saves time, effort, research and is a great way to reach your goals more quickly.

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How Can I Ditch Dairy For Good?

 

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  • Before supermarket shopping...⁠
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⭐️ Do A Little Light Reading! ⭐️⁠
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Food shopping as a vegan can be really easy and no fuss, but to get to that happy place you need to remember something: knowledge equals power. ⁠
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Being familiar with key non-vegan ingredients that pop up frequently, can speed up your shop immensely. Lactose can sneak into creamy products, egg white pops up in some Quorn foods, for example. ⁠
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You also need to be familiar with what you CAN eat. Many supermarket chains have a special range of vegan food now so you can completely skip the label-checking for those – think Tesco with Wicked Kitchen. Check their websites, do some research and you’ll be ready to quickly spot that packaging in the aisles and snap up those goodies. ⁠
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If there’s a certain food you can’t live without, make sure you know which aisle it’s in and what it looks like before you visit – nobody likes returning to the same aisle 3 times. I love buying tahini to make sauces, but it took me a long time to find it hidden obscurely between the pickles.⁠
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Don’t expect to get everything right on your first shop either. If you go home with something you later realise isn’t vegan, don’t beat yourself up about it. Take it back, give it to a friend or donate it to a food bank. You’ll remember for next time!⁠
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Luckily, I have an amazing mum who is! She makes and sends me recipes for cakes and bakes, that are easy enough even for me to have a go at.⁠
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A basic vanilla sponge cake pleases everyone. It's the perfect starting point for a birthday cake, or with added icing, whipped cream or sprinkles.⁠
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Ingredients:⁠
210 g plain flour⁠
250 ml soy milk⁠
200 g sugar (white or coconut)⁠
80 ml oil (olive or vegetable)⁠
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda⁠
0.5 tsp table salt⁠
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar⁠
3 tsp vanilla extract⁠
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Instructions:⁠
⭐️Warm the oven to 180oC.⁠
⭐️Add the flour, sugar, salt and bicarbonate of soda to a bowl (don't forget to sift your flour!) and mix.⁠
⭐️Add the remaining ingredients, and whisk thoroughly.⁠
⭐️Add the mixture to a greased cake tin (7in diameter works well).⁠
⭐️Bake for 25-30 mins.⁠
⭐️Eat alone or add vegan single cream, vanilla frosting or buttercream if preferred.⁠
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  • This week I’ve been taking part in a #whatieatinadayvegan Veganuary special. Today is my day to share my meals! 
I always start the day with warm lemon water. It’s refreshing and gets the digestion going!
Next is a green juice. My go-to for this is cucumber, celery, apple, orange, ginger and spinach/kale. A hit of nutrients!
Mid morning is smoothie time, and today was mango banana. I always add flax or hemp seeds for omega 3. 
For lunch I usually have a loaded salad. But today was Saturday and Ben was hungry! So we had a lovely brunch 😍
Off to my mum’s for dinner. She’s not vegan but always makes great vegan food! We had spaghetti bolognese, garlic bread and apple cake for pudding. My mum actually prefers making vegan cakes as she thinks they taste better 👍
Eating vegan is so easy! If you have any questions or need meal ideas just hit me up anytime. 
And do go ahead and check out the other lovelies taking part in this week’s posts - @rs_recipes @thecookandhim @veginspired @veganbabelife @eatswithel_ @viva.vegana
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