Milk consumption is at its lowest level in 36 years, according to "The Chicago Tribune," in February 2013. You may choose to follow a dairy-free diet for religious or personal beliefs or you may have to ditch the dairy due to intolerance or allergies. No matter your reason for removing dairy from your diet, you will have to be dedicated and diligent to follow a fully dairy-free diet.
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Educate yourself about living a dairy-free lifestyle by reading books and nutrition blogs dedicated to the subject. Use these educational sources to plan your dairy-free meals for the week and make a shopping list for the ingredients you need so you don’t feel overwhelmed at the supermarket.
Replace cow’s milk with any one of its nondairy alternatives. Some options include soy, almond, cashew, hazelnut, hemp, oat, flax, rice and coconut milk. Make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of soy milk.
Swap out cheese with nondairy alternatives, such as tofu or soy cheese and replace dairy yogurt with soy-based versions. Soy yogurts are available plain or flavored with fruit. Replace the cream in your coffee with nondairy creamer and the butter on your toast with nut butter or a dairy-free soy butter alternative. Nondairy cream cheeses and sour creams, many of which are made from soy, are also available. As dairy-free diets increase in popularity, so does the availability of nondairy alternatives.
Say goodbye to dairy ice cream and hello to sorbets or soy milk, rice milk or coconut milk ice creams. Some sherbets are also dairy-free, but check labels as some do contain milk.
Check labels carefully. A lot of processed foods are made with dairy products. These dairy products are not always listed as “milk” or “cheese” in the ingredient lists. Avoid foods that contain casein, curds, custard, lactalbumin, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, lactose, whey, zinc caseinate and calcium caseinate. This list is not exhaustive. When cutting out dairy, familiarize yourself with all dairy-containing ingredients. Look for products labeled vegan, as these foods do not contain any form of dairy or other animal products. Some packaged foods also contain warnings that the food was processed in a facility where it may have come into contact with dairy products. If you have a dairy allergy, look for and heed these warnings.
Watch out for hidden sources of dairy. Some sources of dairy are not as obvious as others. Some artificial sweeteners, breath mints, candies, chewing gums, chicken broths, lunch meats, spice mixes and medications may contain milk or dairy-based products. Don’t ever assume an item is dairy-free without checking its label.