If you’re considering going vegan, dairy substitutes are a great way to add variety to your diet. It can be difficult to get all the protein you need to be healthy and feel your best, and many dairy substitutes are packed with it. You will also be reducing the amount of bad fats and cholesterol that is in meats and dairy products.
When wading into the veganism – or if you simply want to cut some dairy from your diet – bear in mind that many of these dairy substitutes are highly processed, and are thus very energy intensive and aren’t necessarily that great for your health. Soy cheese and fake meats, for instance, are likely to fall into this category. More often than not, though, most of these go through relatively simply processing to achieve their likeness to dairy.
Try some of these substitutes to bulk up your diet, and continue to enjoy some of those foods that you may miss as a vegan.
1.) Soy Milk
With vegans and non-vegans alike, possibly the most popular alternative to dairy products is soy milk. There are many variations and flavors on soy milk – vanilla being my personal favorite. Soy milk can be used to substitute milk in any recipe, from cream based sauces to baking. This is a highly versatile, tasty staple to keep in the kitchen.
2.) Almond Milk
This understated, oft overlooked product is rich and creamy, and can be tastier than dairy milk. This is used in all the same ways as soy milk. It contains higher concentrations of good fats than soy milk, as it is derived from almonds. There are also plenty of flavor variations on this one.
3.) Soy Cheese
One of the most cited missed foods in the vegan diet is cheese… So sad to see it go. But! There are plenty of soy cheeses out there to satiate your craving, should it arise. If you are going vegan, make sure to check out the ingredients to be sure that casein or caseinate is not included, which are not vegan.
4.) Nutritional Yeast
This savory, cheesy tasting powder can be added to pretty much any dish. Toss a generous spoonful into scrambled eggs, Italian sauces, or on top of sandwiches. Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk foods section of your local health food store, and, as such, is cheap. Keep an eye out for nutritional yeast that has been fortified with vitamin B12, as this is often missing from the vegan diet (it’s typically only found in meat), and essential to maintaining your health.
5.) Ice Cream!
Most grocery stores now stock at least a few types of soy ice cream. Its naturally lower in fat, which appeals to a wide swath of people who enjoy indulging in ice cream. Of course, there are a whole host of varieties to choose from, just as many as regular ice cream.
6.) Vegan Sour Cream
Tofutti sour cream is the go to brand for reliably tasty vegan sour cream. It’s made from natural oils and tofu, and is a tasty alternative to actual sour cream. They also offer a guacamole sour cream that works well with any Mexican dish you might want to prepare.
No healthier than regular mayo, it still provides a wonderful alternative. Great on any sandwich, of course, and also makes a mean fake tuna fish salad (made with garbanzo beans). This also comes in different flavors, as well as foritified with omega-3 fatty acids.
8.) Butter Substitute
Think “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”. Made with vegetable oils, this functions in much the same way that butter does, and has a surprisingly similar flavor. There are a variety of different brands out there, and some of them contain non-vegan ingredients such as lactose or whey. Check the label for these. Earth Balance margarine is completely vegan.
9.) Vegan Chocolate Chips
Try “Enjoy Life Gluten-Free Chocolate Chips”. They taste just like chocolate made from dairy, but are entirely vegan, and don’t even contain soy. It’s simple, too! They use: Evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, and non-dairy cocoa butter. I love short ingredient lists. You know exactly what you’re getting, and it’s super tasty!
10.) Vegan Yogurt
All the deliciousness of yogurt, without the dairy. “So Delicious” is an all natural yogurt that is made with coconut milk, making it a great alternative. Most grocery stores now carry this, but if you can’t find it, your health food shop is more than likely to have it. Try dumping a cup of this onto some granola and fresh berries, and you have yourself a delightful breakfast.