Want to Go Dairy-Free? Read This First.

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Image by isamiga76

Image by isamiga76

Millions of Americans have report they’ve gone dairy-free. In fact, according to a survey by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 22 percent of Americans reported they’ve decreased their dairy intake. Are you thinking of joining them by going dairy-free?

What’s Your Reason for Going Dairy-Free?

There’s plenty to consider before cutting dairy from your diet cold turkey. Dairy is a big staple in many dishes and snacks, so the first step is to figure out your true reasons for going dairy-free. Does dairy cause your skin to break out or your stomach to have pretty bad indigestion, pain, or even vomiting caused by a lactose intolerance? Or do you feel like removing dairy would help decrease your fat intake and increase your lifespan?

All of these are convincing reasons to go completely (or for the most part) dairy free. Dairy can be good until it’s not. It can become a problem, a nuisance, and at the end of the day, your health and physical well-being may be improved with dairy out of the picture.

How Do I Go Dairy-Free?

After taking Danielle Omar’s Nourish program, I was, for the first time, convinced I could go dairy free without looking back. Up until that point, most of our family meals had some form of dairy in it––milk, heavy cream, cheese, butter, etc. so the idea of removing this was daunting but only because I didn’t know they all had great substitutions.

A dairy-free diet completely removes dairy ingredients in the process of preparing your meals. No butter in the pan, no creams in the sauce, no cheese toppings. However, many of these ingredients have great vegan substitutions that won’t completely kill the taste. Vegan butter can replace your regular butter, and depending on the type, you can cook with them just the same. Nut milks (like almond and coconut) are great alternatives for cow’s milk in your cereals and smoothies.

It may not be possible to just substitute almond milk in all of your recipes, but opening your mind to trying new dairy-free recipes can help ease the transition. Making the move to a dairy-free diet will be much easier when you find delicious recipe alternatives for the meals you’re used to eating. This cashew macaroni recipe and this tofu ricotta lasagna are two perfect and delicious dairy-free recipe.

What About Calcium?

A common misperception is that dairy is the only source of calcium. Calcium can be found in so many other foods––broccoli, almonds, dark leafy greens are all great sources of calcium. Heck, did you know the sun is a great source of vitamin D, too?

There are plenty of ways to get your recommended daily dose of calcium when eating a dairy-free plant-based diet. Top it off with a soluble, tasteless calcium supplement you can add to your morning cereal, coffee, or smoothie!

With some planning and education, you, too, can go dairy-free without looking back.

Have you already made the transition to a dairy-free diet? What are some tips you’d add? Let me know in the comments!