Dairy is Scary……….
And NO…..I don’t just mean from an animal welfare and environmental point of view.
Let’s be realistic it tends to be the thing people claim would be the hardest thing to give up if they were to go vegan.
“But how do you cope without cheese” seems to be a question I’m asked all the time. It’s also what I thought myself when considering a plant based diet for health reasons before I went vegan. I used to think there’s no way I could give up cheese. I swear to god that stuff is more addictive than hard drugs! There are actually studies out there to suggest that this is the case.
To put into perspective just how much I loved cheese I would have chosen a big stick of cheese over a chocolate bar as a teenager. So much so it became a standing joke with a close friend if we were ever near a vending machine, “Emma won’t want anything, there’s no cheese” (Emma made do with chocolate as Emma has no self control was how the story actually unfolded). When Facebook started up and any news about cheese popped up, I’d be getting tagged left, right and centre! New cheese cafes, cheese wedding cakes, those studies about cheese being as addictive as crack…….people thought of me.
So if I can ditch the dairy I hand on heart promise you ANYBODY can.
I’ve spent the last few years eating my way through so many dairy free alternatives, trust me I’ve tried A LOT, some great and some not so great (I’m being kind). I’ve noticed over the last three years that the quality has improved massively so if you were put off dairy free products years ago please don’t assume that’s how they all still taste now. The products I’m listing below are incredible and indistinguishable from their dairy laden counterparts.
Why Ditch Dairy?
There are three main reasons why ditching dairy is a great idea!
We absolutely do not need to consume dairy for healthy bones or for any health reason for that matter. We can find all of the calcium we need in fortified dairy alternatives like the milks, yoghurts and cheeses recommended in this article.
Dairy is actually very harmful, it’s full of chemicals including steroids, hormones and white blood cells or pus in other words. Dairy is high in saturated fats and cholesterol and as mentioned before is highly addictive. Dr T.Colin Campbell author of The China Study actually found it’s the protein in milk that is so addictive but this same protein is also a carcinogen, this was verified after decades of laboratory research. The China Study is an incredibly interesting read. You can find it here.
Also it had never occurred to me quite how strange it is that we are the only species to drink another’s secretions? How weird is that? We aren’t baby cows so why drink milk intended for them?
I could write an entire blog just about this but I’m going to keep it brief for now.
We NEED to start acting now if we are to reduce our impact on the planet, we are quite literally a ticking time bomb and all evidence suggests switching to a plant based diet is the single biggest change we can all implement.
Dairy farming is devastating to the environment. You need double the amount of water to produce the same amount of cows milk as you do plant milk. The greenhouse gas emissions are also staggering meaning the carbon footprint for producing cows milk is also double that of plant milk.
My favourite reason……The Animals
Often we overlook the cruelty surrounding animal agriculture in the dairy industry as the animal isn’t being killed for meat…..or so we think.
In reality the life of a dairy cow is tragic. A cow has to be pregnant or recently given birth to lactate which means a dairy cow is repeatedly artificially inseminated over and over again throughout her life so she produces milk. Cows bond with their young just like we do but the calf is removed so they don’t drink mums milk as that needs to be sold for human consumption. This is heartbreaking for both mum and baby, they often cry out for days and have been known to chase after their babies. Imagine going through that over and over again.
What about the babies? Female calves will end up joining mum on the milk line and male calves are surplus to requirements, effectively a waste product. They either live a miserable, short life in a tiny crate and are then killed for veal or are killed shortly after birth.
Dairy cows are often so exhausted after years of pregnancy, birth and milking they are killed at an age much younger than their life expectancy and end up being used as meat.
The dairy industry IS the meat industry.
For those reasons my obsession with cheese vanished. No taste is worth that suffering, especially when we have such amazing alternatives like the ones listed below.
The Best Dairy Alternatives
I’m hoping my research may come in handy for people starting out or maybe putting off switching for fear of ditching the dairy.
I’ve created this handy resource detailing my favourite dairy free staples and a few naughty treats too, I mean who can live without whippy cream, ice cream and chocolate? Not me thank you.
Oat milk all the way! It makes a gorgeous porridge and tastes lovely on cereal.
It’s also great in tea and coffee. My husband Matt took a lot of convincing to swap his milk in his tea but he loves oat milk now and says it’s great in his brew.
We buy Asda’s own Oat milk for £1 per litre.
Another well loved brand for milk is Oatly, their range is pretty big so it’s a matter of trying them out to find your favourite but this one seems to be a popular choice.
Here we go……..this was a big deal to me! I NEEDED a decent replacement.
My favourite hard cheese (after a lot of searching) is the Asda Free From Cheddar Block. It’s £2 for a 200g block.
It melts well, it grates well and it’s lovely sprinkled on pasta dishes.
Asda Free From also wins the title for best soft cheese too. Their plain cream cheese and Garlic and Herb are both gorgeous. They are £2 for 255g.
Hand on heart the Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese is 100% identical to Boursin. I actually welled up when I discovered this! If it’s ever discontinued Asda will find an incredibly dramatic, upset vegan woman on their doorstep.
Asda pizza counters also offer vegan grated cheese as an option so you can even get a delicious vegan pizza made up for you in store.
This category only needs one word really!
It comes in a block or a spreadable version and costs approximately £1.80 for 225g
I promise it’s gorgeous! My mum is a butter fiend and I often wonder if there’s any toast under her wedge of butter and even she is a Naturli convert. As the name suggests it contains all good stuff unlike some of the other dairy free spreads.
You can buy it in Sainsbury’s or some local Wholefoods shops. My local shop Glossop Wholefoods is now a stockist.
I don’t think I’ve tried a bad dairy free ice cream? Obviously I stand to be corrected.
Swedish Glace is wonderful, it’s easily found in most supermarkets and costs on average £2.50 for 750ml. It comes in a range of flavours including vanilla, chocolate and raspberry.
Magnums now produce a vegan original and almond ice cream lolly. Both equally gorgeous! They cost £3.50 for three.
Ben & Jerrys have a range of vegan tubs which will hopefully be expanding again soon. My favourite is Chocolate Fudge Brownie and it costs £5.50 for 500ml. Perfect for those Saturday night two spoons, one tub and a movie kind of night. Me and Matt know how to live.
I’ve heard a rumour they are bringing out a cookie dough flavour so obviously life will be complete once this occurs.
It’s a tale of luxury vs budget here. My top three range from cheap as chips from Aldi to a mid range bar to a slightly pricier praline style multipack.
Aldi – the kids blooming love this! It’s cheap too at only £0.69 per 100g.
Montezuma- it’s £2.50 (approx) per 100g. This sweet orange flavour is my favourite. A little chunk each night sorts out my sweet cravings.
Vegolino – these are my absolute favourites! Including pre vegan……..I ate so many over Christmas I was sure I’d be put off for life but nope. They are little creamy, praline, chocolaty mouthfuls Of deliciousness.
Perfect gifts for Easter and guaranteed vegans and non vegans will love them – trust me I bought them for a few family members for Christmas and they were unanimously loved.
There are so many great yoghurts! You can’t go wrong here so I am just sharing my number 1 favourite!
It’s the Alpro multipack 2 x cherry and 2 x Blueberry for £1.80 and I tend to get mine from Asda, most supermarkets stock a huge range of Alpro products now though so you won’t struggle finding lots of options to enjoy.
One of my favourite breakfasts is fresh fruit with one of these yoghurts.
My children are a bit obsessed with hot chocolate and whippy cream when we get in from walking the dog so I had to find a great alternative.
Food Heaven Heavenly Whipped Cream is amazing! You would never know you have swapped to a dairy free product.
It can be found in the free from fridges in Morrison’s and Asda and also some Wholefood shops are stocking too so it’s worth checking with your local one.
It’s £1.99 for 200ml.
I can confirm it tasted great with the cherry pie!
Oatly Creamy Oat Fraiche – I love this stuff, I use it when making Cheesecakes, in soups and casseroles and it’s also delicious used as you would double cream for a blob on your cake or scone. It’s available in most supermarkets for £1.55 for 200ml.
I really hope this guide has been useful and may save you some time when out shopping.
I really hope you enjoy the products.
Please take a mo to sign up to my blog at the bottom of the page and follow me on social media, you will receive notifications of new recipes and blog posts and be the first to know about any offers or competitions.
If you have any questions or would just like to chat more about a vegan lifestyle please do get in touch! I’m always more than happy to help!
With love from