Ditching dairy tends to make or break people when they are trying to go vegan…
Believe me, it’s completely normal to have a tough time giving up milk, cheese and yogurt.
Growing up, I was the kind of kid who would throw a temper tantrum if my parents wouldn’t let me have a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, a grilled cheese for lunch and macaroni and cheese for dinner.
Did I mention yogurt and string cheese were my favorite snacks? My fondness for cheese, and really all dairy products, only grew stronger the older I got.
After a few years of eating vegetarian, I started to become more educated on the harsh realities of the dairy industry.
I simply couldn't ignore this information anymore. It was time to totally cut dairy out of my diet.
Which worked! For a little... but every once in a while, I still found myself caving to a slice of pizza or a sip of a milkshake.
Interestingly enough, there is an explanation behind why I was constantly craving dairy, and more specifically, cheese. According to a Forbes.com article that explores The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal Barnard,
“Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a casein-derived morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiate molecules built in...Our brain's ‘reward center’ releases dopamine when we eat salty foods like cheese in order to encourage us to eat more of it.”
Wild, right?! We crave cheese, one of the hardest things to give up when going vegan, because it literally encourages our brains to eat more of it.
So how do you stop eating dairy all together?
You try. And then you fail. And then you try again.
You slowly swap out all of the dairy in your life for vegan products. And then eventually, you’ll find the products and recipes you enjoy, and your body will slowly but surely stop craving dairy!
Thankfully, there are tons of non-dairy products out there to help make your transition easier! Like any market, some products and brands will be better than others. Usually, it just comes down to personal preference regarding flavor and texture.
Here are some of our favorite vegan, non-dairy brands and products to help get you started:
Yogurt, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, creamy dips, pasta and drinks. We couldn’t love Kite Hill anymore! Their products are a tad more expensive than other brands out there, but once you taste the high quality ingredients, you’ll understand why you’re paying a bit more. Sorry not sorry if become addicted!
Think you’ll never have a good pizza or piece of lasagna again? Stop stressing! Violife changed the vegan cheese game with their super melty shreds. The possibilities are endless. Thank you, Violife. You are a vegan cheese God as far as the VegToday team is concerned.
Miyoko’s products are similar to Kite Hill in the aspect that their prices can be on the higher end, but they are so freaking delicious that you won’t mind spending a little extra money every once in a while. We like to grab their butter for special occasions like date night, and their beautiful cheese wheels for vegan cheese boards!
Where do we start? So Delicious makes just about every non-dairy product you will ever crave. They have vegan milk, coffee creamers, yogurt, cheese, ICE CREAM and more! Our favorite thing about So Delicious is their affordable prices that make eating tasty, non-dairy products accessible for everyone.
Shout out to Daiya for being there for the non-dairy crew since 2009! And WOW have they grown over the years. They started with just vegan cheese and now they produce just about any non-dairy product your little heart desires. Vegan cheesecake, mac and cheese, burritos, pizza, dressings, yogurt and SO much more. We also love the cost-friendly prices of these products.
Drink coffee? Love ice cream? RUN, DON’T WALK to the closest store to you that has Oatly’s products in stock. You’ll never miss a latte or scoop of ice cream made with cow’s milk again. Oat milk has this crazy creamy texture to it that’s unlike any other non-dairy milk on the market.
Silk is a great brand to familiarize yourself with if you’re trying to ditch dairy. They have tons of great non-dairy milk options (almond, soy, cashews, chocolate, coconut, oat), yogurts and creamers! The best part about Silk is that their products are easy to find. They’ve made their way into tons of major grocery stores and Target.
We love Tofutti’s cream cheese and frozen desserts! Their cream cheese seems to be the go-to vegan option at a lot of bagel shops, but it’s also easy to find their products at local grocery stores. HELLO non-dairy cream cheese bagels for breakfast at home on a lazy weekend!
Worried about giving up butter? Earth Balance has you covered. Their products are affordable and easy to find at local grocery stores. Try one of the buttery spreads on your toast, or replace butter with one of their vegan buttery sticks when baking! You’ll never miss butter again.
Other Vegan Alternatives to Dairy
It’s incredible to have all of these vegan products at our grocery stores today. And these are just some of our favorites! There are tons of other non-dairy products on the market popping up every day. Some chains are even producing their own line of vegan, non-dairy products. Wegmans has great cream cheese and yogurt, Trader Joe’s has amazing vegan queso and Whole Foods has delicious cheese style slices for sandwiches.
Everyone’s taste buds are a bit different, so our advice is to get out there and slowly start trying different products until you find your favorites! Most of these brands have a store locator on their websites so you can easily find the closest location to you.
Another tip is to follow these brands on Instagram and Facebook, so you can get inspired by all the insanely delicious recipes people are making with these non-dairy products every day!
Happy non-dairy shopping! And remember - if you fall back into the cheese trap, just climb back out and try again. You’ve got this!
Michele & The VegToday Team