Recently there seems to be a move for many towards a dairy free diet, we wanted to understand this a little more and pass on our findings to you, in order to help you make a more informed choice about how you eat.

There is, by no means, any one diet that is suitable for everyone, some choose a particular diet due to allergies, intolerances, ethics, values or simple likes and dislikes and we aren’t going to tell you what is right or wrong as that’s totally your own decision but we wanted to understand dairy free a little more and we hope our information helps you with that.

What is dairy free?

A dairy free diet means that you consume absolutely no products that come from animal milk. This includes things such as cow, sheep and goat milk, cheese, cream, butter, yoghurts and so on.

Some confusion exists regarding whether or not eggs are classed as dairy, as dairy is usually associated with farms, however eggs do not form part of dairy and so you are still able to consume eggs if you decided to choose a dairy free lifestyle.

Benefits of a Dairy Free lifestyle

There are many benefits to being dairy free, two of the top listed are weight loss and clear skin. These benefits do go hand in hand as they’re both linked to the fat content in milk. The high content of fat in milk products, can lead to those who have a high dairy diet increasing their weight. Teens suffer mostly from skin issues, such as acne and those who have tried a dairy free diet find that it has a great impact on the results of clear skin.

A dairy free diet can also be linked to improved digestion. Lactose is one element included in natural animals’ milk and lactose is one such ingredient which can have a high impact on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). 65% of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy and this is where conditions such as IBS can become active and lead to pain and bloating for many. Dairy is also very low in fibre which doesn’t help with a heavy dairy diet as a low fibre diet can induce constipation.

Substitutes

Perhaps after reading about the benefits you may be thinking that a dairy free diet would suit you and your lifestyle but you’re unsure about where to start and what you will need to do. Firstly, there are a couple of things you need to know before we look at food substitutes.

Milk products do provide us with a large amount of certain vitamins and minerals which we don’t tend to get elsewhere; Calcium, Vitamin D and Iodine are abundant in milk products and these vitamins and minerals are important to our body. If we are not able to consume these through milk, then we need to find another way in which to do this.  Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as Tuna, Mackerel and Salmon, as well as egg yolks, soya milk and orange juice.

Calcium can be found in spinach, kale, soy beans and some fish such as sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout. You may find that you’d prefer to take a supplement instead, there are many different options but Holland and Barrett have some good ones to try that also include vitamin D too.

Iodine is also in abundance in milk and quite an important ingredient as iodine helps to make your thyroid work harder and control your metabolism. Animals milk is full of iodine and so it is very important that you do find your iodine source elsewhere if you do choose to go dairy free. Switching to soya milk will only provide you with 2% of the iodine you find in animals milk in the same volume, but it can also be found particularly in white fish and seaweed. These supplements can help to increase your intake of iodine. 

Now food is important to us all and knowing where to start with supplementing milk products for dairy free products is important. It’s good to know what is available and how simple the switch can be. It is important to note that using a lactose free product does not necessarily mean it is dairy free, the lactose can be removed from some products whilst dairy still remains.

Milk milk can easily be switched for products such as almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk and many other different types of milk.

Butter butter can be replaced by products such as olive oil, coconut oil and even avocados and bananas, just be aware that the taste may change depending on what it is you’re making, so you will need to use the most suitable ingredient.

Cheese tofu is a great substitute for cheese, however if you want something exactly like cheese you can find vegan cheeses which will be totally dairy free

Yoghurts there is a wide selection of dairy free yoghurts available, take a look at the selection in Sainsburys alone https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/dairy– free/dairy-free- yogurts?

 

Ice Cream again there is a wide selection of dairy free ice cream available, Alpro do a good selection as well as Oatly and Ben and Jerrys, these can be found in your local supermarkets.

Recipes

Making meals dairy free can be as simple as making them with dairy products it’s just ensuring you have the right products available to you.

There are some great books to use to make dairy free recipes however these can be in short supply. Vegan cookbooks are the best ones to use and then you can just add meat to your recipe if you require it.

Vegan cookbooks for quick meals

Quick Fix Vegan

Nom Yourself: Simple Vegan Cooking

Vegan cookbooks for something a bit more upscale

Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen

Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats: Tasty plant-based recipes for every day

Our favourite Dairy Free recipe book

Eat Diary Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks and Sweets

Overall a dairy free diet can benefit the body if you do suffer from intolerances, allergies or disorders. It doesn’t mean you have to be meat free; it’s just substituting the dairy from your diet with other foods that can be healthier for you and your family.

If you’re not sure whether to make the move, try to substitute just one or two products to begin with, maybe start to use almond milk instead of your usual and see how that goes.

If you do think it would be great for you, please let us know how you get on, we look forward to hearing about your progress.