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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As a meat-eater, it was probably easy to get by without thinking about meals in advance. You could grab a snack from wherever, or grab takeout on the way home. But thinking in advance helps us all out. It means we eat more healthy, save money on random snacks and meals, and can do some time-saving meal prep in advance!⁠
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⭐️ Consider where you will be for the next few days at mealtimes, and plan accordingly. Factor drinks and snacks in too – I always have an extra something stashed in my bag, just in case I’m out later than usual! ⁠
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⭐️ If you’re somewhere new, looking up restaurants online beforehand can help. Check out Tripadvisor – just enter ‘vegan-friendly (TOWN)’ in their search bar, and you should easily find where the plant-based people are going. Then you can narrow the options right down to your path of driving or walking. HappyCow Vegan Guide is also a great website that pinpoints vegan options near to you. It’s available as an app and will show you vegan stores and cafes too.⁠
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⭐️ If you’re just looking to grab and go, see where popular chains are such as Pret A Manger and M&S Food. Most towns, airports and service stations have at least one vegan-friendly chain. In fact, in 2018, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation. So you can get familiar favourites wherever you are! ⁠
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⭐️ You can also personally ask for recommendations on Facebook groups. Local vegans are always happy to point you in the right direction, so that you don’t go hungry. If you’re too impatient to wait for responses, try the search function to see if anybody has asked a similar question in the group recently.⁠
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I remember going vegan and thinking I'd never be able to have cake or baked goods, because they had to have eggs in.⁠
Wrong again! Since then, I've discovered vegan meringues, brownies and all kinds of other goodies.⁠
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I like to make these cookies! They're actually one of the first vegan desserts I made, which of course means they're very easy to do.⁠
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They are perfect for school bakes, having guests over, or special occasions. ⁠
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TOP TIP: Leave them in for a few extra minutes if you prefer them crunchy on the outside.⁠
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Ingredients:⁠
120 g vegan butter⁠
100 g white sugar⁠
100 g brown sugar⁠
120 g plain flour⁠
1 tsp vanilla extract⁠
50 g cocoa powder⁠
1 tsp baking soda⁠
1 tbsp non-dairy milk⁠
1 Pinch salt⁠
100 g vegan chocolate chunks or chips⁠
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Instructions:⁠
1. Preheat oven to 180C.⁠
2. Add the butter, both sugars and vanilla to a bowl and mix thoroughly.⁠
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, then add baking soda and salt. Mix together.⁠
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix thoroughly.⁠
5. Add the chocolate and milk. Mix the dough – it should be sticky and thick.⁠
6. Roll the dough into small individual balls and put on a greased baking tray.⁠
7. Bake for 10 minutes until still soft in the middle. Take out of the oven and leave to firm up for 10 minutes.⁠
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Tell me...⁠
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Which do you usually prefer?⁠
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1. Starters⁠
OR⁠
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And for those worrying about changing habits, I completely understand. It is a daunting prospect – we all have busy lives and routines that we like following. But it is do-able and completely worth it! Take it from somebody who is out on the other side of change – ⁠
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You create a new normal. ⁠
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Once I fully realised the horrors of the dairy and egg industry, and associated health risks, I knew I had to do it. Now I have good habits and healthy routines, that don’t involve cruelty. I’ve found new dishes at the takeaway that I actually enjoy more. I’ve learned to make my own ‘egg’ foo yung at home, which is very satisfying, and healthier! I’ve discovered Vego chocolate bars (heaven) and gorgeous vegan lunches. Life is great!⁠
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As with getting rid of any habit, mindset is a huge player. Humans are emotional creatures! We make many decisions (especially in the moment) based on emotion rather than logic. If you’re not emotionally committed and prepared, the likelihood is that your new habit won’t last. We often adopt certain beliefs to justify keeping old habits. In the context of veganism, this could be “but I won’t get the nutrients I need” or “I can’t afford it”. ⁠
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What’s yours? It’s important to challenge these limiting beliefs. Are they REALLY true?⁠
Let’s replace those beliefs with new ones – “I’ll be saving lives” or “I’ll be helping the environment for my grandchildren”. Being vegan really is a positive lifestyle choice.⁠
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