Have you ever wondered what it would be like to transition to a dairy-free diet?
Perhaps eating foods and beverages with animal-based milk makes your stomach hurt (lactose intolerance) or experience milk allergy. Or you’re curious about taking on a dairy-free diet due to animal rights.
Whatever the reason, with so many dairy-free products and resources out there, making the switch is easier than ever. You just have to get started.
There are so many options: Dairy-free cheese, coconut yogurt, soy cheese, alternative kinds of milk, and so many others.
In this blog post, we’re sharing a few tips to see if eliminating dairy products is for you.
How to Go Dairy-Free? 11 Tips to Successfully Make the Switch
Making the transition from dairy foods to eat dairy-free overnight can be tricky, to say the least! We often rely on dairy-based products to add flavor and creaminess to our foods, but with the right swaps and dairy substitutes, you don’t need them.
Learn milk substitutes
Animal-based milk, like cows milk, is used in all sorts of recipes, such as soups, baked goods, smoothies, creamers for coffee … and much more! But if you’re looking to incorporate a plant-based, dairy-free diet, learn which substitutes for milk are out there (Vegan milk). That way, you can try each and determine which tastes best for you.
We found this dairy-free cheat sheet to learn about milk substitutes at a glance. Try pinning this to your Pinterest board or print out a copy to keep handy.
Opt for nut and seed milk
Nut and seed milk are so tasty and rich in flavor, you won’t even notice you’re not drinking animal-based milk!
A few common milk alternatives are soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, rice milk, cashew milk, and hemp milk. Many of these alternatives are comparable to cow's milk in protein content with a reduced number of calories, fats, and carbohydrates. Many substitutes also have a creamy, mild taste and work well in a number of foods and beverages.
Work with what you have instead of what you can’t have
This is a great mindset shift when it comes to adopting dairy-free options … or any diet! Instead of fixating on how much you’re craving your favorite animal-based milk products, focus on something else that’s just as tasty but fits within your dietary needs.
For instance, if you’re craving a slice of salty, savory cheese, try to think about something, a dairy replacement you could eat instead that satisfies the craving. A few non-cheese examples include: Dairy replacements like Kite Hill ricotta, cashew cheese, pesto sauce, vegan queso, and tahini.
Stock your snack cupboard
Yes, your pantry isn’t just for Proper Good soups, chilis, and oatmeals (but those are always great to keep on hand ;) ). You can also stock your cupboard with non-dairy snacks to satisfy your craving for dairy … but without it!
Simply Whisked created this GREAT list of non-dairy pantry staples to pick up on your next grocery trip. This includes cooking and baking essentials like olive oil, cold turkey, fresh fruit, cashew milk, non-dairy cheese, and nutritional yeast. They also share dairy-free ideas to satisfy your sweet tooth, too!
Make plans in advance/meal prep
As with most diets, meal prepping in advance is a key to success! When you prepare your dairy-free meals and snacks, you can relax knowing you have the perfect foods at your fingertips.
Try reading this dairy-free cookbook for beginners by Chrissy Carroll, a registered dietician. This cookbook offers over 100 dairy substitute meal ideas for those who don’t know where to start. Or if books aren’t really your thing, follow bloggers who specialize in dairy-free recipes, like Make It Dairy Free.
Vegan food is an easier alternative
Vegan and dairy-free diets have many similarities, but they aren’t quite the same.
A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including dairy, eggs, meat, and fish. A dairy-free diet removes all milk products but not necessarily any other animal products.
While all vegan foods are considered dairy-free, not all dairy-free foods are vegan products. Because of this, going vegan may be easier to navigate versus strictly dairy-free. A lot of vegan dairy alternatives have become available, including non-dairy and gluten-free options for milk, cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, and ice cream, like canned coconut milk, almond milk, and nut butter.
Are you struggling to navigate which products in the grocery store are dairy-free versus those that aren’t? Labels are your best friend! When selecting dairy-free products, make sure to read the label so you’re not accidentally consuming animal-based milk products.
We know this requires patience. When you’re first starting out on your dairy-free lifestyle, we recommend taking an extra 30 minutes onto your grocery run to allow yourself time to read labels. This will help prevent frustration, avoid dairy allergy reactions, and can truly take your time to learn!
Expand your palate
We bet you hadn’t heard of hemp milk, Daiya, or other out-of-the-box milk alternatives before beginning your dairy-free diet. But boy, there are a lot of dairy-free products out there, and that’s a great thing!
Now is the time to be adventurous. Try dairy-free foods you never even dreamed of trying and get creative! Want mac and cheese but are bummed about not being able to use heavy cream? Swap it for almond milk! Not sure how grandma’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe could ever be the same without animal-based milk butter? Try vegan ghee instead!
There’s no harm in experimenting in the kitchen with dairy-free alternatives. After all, if it’s not your cup of tea, just try something else next time!
Try to eat whole foods
Eating whole foods helps you stay on track and is often healthier, too! When looking to avoid dairy, a great solution is to focus on other food groups, like veggies and fruits. When you’re having fun trying new foods, you won’t even miss the dairy cheese topping!
Whole foods are also rich in antioxidants, fiber, and minerals, and can even keep you full for longer.
Less is more
When starting your dairy-free diet, you may be used to having three square meals per day–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And with those meals, perhaps you have dairy-based rituals associated with them. A splash of creamer in your morning coffee. A glass of milk with your evening dinner.
If you’re struggling to break those dairy-based habits, try eating 5-6 smaller, snack-like meals instead of 3 large ones. When you “graze” throughout the day, it can help keep you satisfied and less focused on your dairy cravings.
One of the best ways to learn about the dairy-free lifestyle is to ask questions, listen, and observe what others have done. If you don’t know anyone who is dairy-free, try finding influencers who speak about the topic on social media, like Instagram and TikTok.
If listening is more in line with your learning style, download audio books on going dairy-free to listen to while working out or commuting to the office. If you and your kiddos are both dairy-free, Dairy-Free, and Happy! By Michelle Diana Lowe is a helpful, encouraging resource to listen to together.
See?! Going dairy-free isn’t so bad. And when you’re prepared, it can be downright easy and fun to experiment with dairy-free products in the kitchen!
And with Proper Good on your side, going dairy-free can be an absolute breeze. Check out our dairy-free bundle for the easiest and tastiest dairy-less meals. One of our personal favorite dairy-free products is Proper Good oatmeal, that’s made without animal-based milk. Instead, if you’re in the mood for a creamy splash, our oatmeal pairs perfectly with any nut milk of choice! Dairy-free in a pinch? You bet!
So get out there and be the best dairy-free you can be. :)