An estimated 65% of people around the world have difficulty digesting lactose. With the rise of plant-based dairy alternatives, however, dairy sales have decreased over the years. These dairy-free options are not only better for the environment, but they are also easier to digest, contain more nutrients, and are associated with reduced food sensitivities.
Why Should You Use Non-Dairy Substitutes?
Some people decide to avoid animal products for humanitarian reasons, while others want to decrease their exposure to hormones, antibiotics, and potential contaminants that are in conventional dairy products. When it comes to non-dairy alternatives, however, the goal is to watch out for added sweeteners and flavorings. Certain brands try to trick the consumer into consuming something “healthy,” when it is not healthy in actuality. For a list of plant-based dairy substitutes, look at the list below.
A glass of cow’s milk is not the best source of calcium. The average glass of milk contains 149 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 8 grams of protein. Unsweetened almond milk, on the other hand, contains 2.5 grams of healthy fat, 39 calories, and one gram of protein. You don’t need to load up on protein, people, so the one gram per serving of almond milk isn’t detrimental to your health. It is the most common non-dairy milk out there, but coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, and hemp seed milk are other beneficial options. Try to steer clear of soy milk because soy is one of the most genetically engineered crops on the planet.
When it comes to baking, butter is one of the most common ingredients. As the saying goes, “Everything is better with butter.” You know what is omitted from that saying? Eating a lot of butter has been associated with increased levels of visceral fat, higher cholesterol, and obesity. Mashed avocado, coconut oil, and coconut butter are healthier plant-based alternatives to butter. All three of those alternatives contain healthy fats that benefit heart health. Finally, make sure to avoid vegetable oil-based margarines because they still contain derivatives of dairy, for example, whey.
Ice Cream Alternatives
There are more dairy-free ice creams on the market now than ever before. A lot of the non-dairy ice creams are made from cashews, coconuts, almonds, or entirely nut-free when it comes to fruit sorbets. The only thing to watch for is the flavorings, dyes, and sugar content. The easiest way to avoid regular ice cream is to make your own ice cream at home using frozen fruit, cacao powder, or a small amount of plant milk. Click here to browse the ice cream recipes in our dessert recipe section.
Cheese is typically what prevents vegetarians from committing to veganism; it’s just that good. It is also incredibly fatty and rich in sodium. Luckily, nuts have the ability to form a creamy texture when blended, which is why many companies are producing vegan cashew cheese, for instance. While there are processed vegan cheeses, they contain a high amount of chemicals that are unhealthy to consume. Make your own cheeses using raw nuts, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Nutritional yeast is an excellent seasoning for vegans because it offers a nutty, cheesy flavor.
Cream is the higher fat top layer that is separated from fresh milk. It is commonly used for many culinary applications, but there are many non-dairy options that you can use instead of regular half and half. Many non-dairy cream products are made from almond milk or coconut milk, but our favorite is the cream made from peas. It doesn’t have the flavor of coconut and is easily used in cooking or in beverages.
What To Watch Out For
While some people are intolerant to dairy, others are intolerant to nuts and soy, which can be difficult to digest. When purchasing non-dairy alternative products, be sure to inspect the ingredients.
Many non-dairy yogurts and cheeses contain additives and fillers, like inulin, to improve the texture. These are not the worst for your health, but they aren’t natural either. Stay on top of your health and strive to purchase the most natural products.
Unfortunately, a lot of non-dairy products contain added sugars in order to enhance texture and flavor. There are many unsweetened versions of these dairy alternatives, so be sure to choose those options. Even then, read the nutrition label.
You may notice that non-dairy options cost more than dairy products. It never hurts to spend a little extra money on your health, so don’t let a couple dollars stand between you and a healthier body.