A Handy Guide to Dairy Alternatives

1 Mar 2020

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As more people are turning towards a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, companies have come up with various dairy alternatives to all our favorite dairy products. In the last year alone, over 4,500 dairy alternatives were reviewed on abillionveg!

Pro-tip for vegans: When looking for dairy alternatives, you will see two labels: "Dairy-free" and "Non-dairy". Products labeled "Dairy-free" are vegan. However, the "Non-dairy" products may contain ingredients like casein, whey, and other milk-based derivatives. So, be sure to check the ingredients list on each product before making a purchase.

cute cow Ms. Catalina Eduarda, from Santuario Clafira, is all up in your face to thank you for your interest in dairy alternatives.

 

Milk Substitutes

Plant-based Milks

Soy Milk

Made from whole soybeans or soy protein isolate; it has a creamy, mild taste and is the most similar nutritionally to cow’s milk.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is the richest and creamiest of all non-dairy products and is abundant in mono-lauric acid that is found in mother’s milk. Lauric acid heals the gut and nourishes each cell in the body.

Oat Milk

Oat milk has a sweet flavor. It's high in protein, fiber, and contains beta-glucan, which can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Rice Milk

Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic non-dairy milk, making it a safe option for those with allergies, or intolerances to gluten, soy, or nuts. It's low in fat and protein compared to other kinds of milk and great to drink on its own as well as in smoothies, desserts, and oatmeal.

Nut-based Milks

Cashew Milk

Cashews contain heart-healthy fats like those found in olive oil. They also relax the nerves, help induce sleep, calm the body and improve your immune system.

Almond Milk

Almonds are loaded with healthy fats and are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Unsweetened almond milk is an excellent option if you are trying to cut down on calories.

Best-rated milk alternatives on abillionveg: Cocobeet Chocolate Mylk, Trader Joe's Nut Beverage, Good Karma Flax Milk, and Whole Foods Coconut Cream & Almond Milk

Are you team soy mylk or team oat mylk? Vote in the comment section!

 

Cheese Substitutes

Nutritional yeast flakes

If you're a self-proclaimed “cheese addict” but want to ditch the dairy, nutritional yeast flakes are the way to go. These dairy and gluten-free flakes offer a cheesy and nutty flavor to foods like no other dairy-free ingredient. Fortified with vitamin B, it's sprinkled on like Parmesan or used to add a delicious savory flavor to macaroni cheese sauce. They're also a fantastic source of protein, folic acid, and zinc while being low in fat and sodium.

Tofu

Sliced smoked tofu mimics mozzarella or provolone on sandwiches. For a cottage cheese or ricotta substitute, blend or mash firm silken tofu with a dash of lemon juice. This can also be used in dips, sauces, or in pasta dishes. You can find soy- and nut-based versions of cream cheese at supermarkets, or make them at home using cashews, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, or almonds.

Best-rated cheese alternatives on abillionveg: Herb Nutmilk Cheese, Cultured Nut, Tesco Jalapeno And Chilli Cheddar, and Bleu Cheese.

Butter Substitutes

Butter is probably the most frequently used dairy product in cooking and baking recipes. Fortunately, many of the best dairy-free butter alternatives for spreading, cooking, and baking can easily be found at supermarkets or health food stores. For an all-rounded substitute, coconut oil is excellent in just about everything, from baking to stove-top cooking to spreading on toast. Healthy, creamy, and delicious, it's low in saturated fats and will not change the flavor of food too much.

Best for baking

A great butter substitute for baking is applesauce because of its sweetness, which means you will need less sugar than the recipe calls for. A mashed banana will work in place of butter and will add healthy nutrients to your dish. In many cases, you can substitute equal parts avocado for butter in recipes. This creamy fruit contains mono-saturated fat, which helps lower bad cholesterol. It works best in recipes that mask its flavor, like fudge brownies or decadent vegan chocolate cake. It also makes for a delicious replacement for butter on toast or bagels.

If you're looking to create shortcrust pastry, olive, rapeseed, and vegetable oils will do the trick. Using a harder vegan butter or vegan margarine will create the crumbly and flaky texture you're looking for in crumble toppings. Quick tip, heat is the enemy of pastry preparation, so be sure to use your butter alternatives at the coolest temperature possible.

With these substitutions, it's easy to get the same texture and moisture in baking. You might also want to consider baking without butter if you are looking to cut calories and saturated fats.

Best for Frying

frying

When using a butter alternative for cooking, use cold-pressed olive oil for lighter frying and rapeseed oil or coconut oil for higher temperatures. Using organic reduces the amount of pesticide residue you're exposed to during cooking. Meanwhile using cold-pressed oils preserves the oil's nutritional quality. Olive and rapeseed oil are rich in omega-3 and are beneficial in skin health and hormone circulation.

Best for Spreading

spreading butter

sweetfarm's review of Miyoko's Cultured Vegan Butter

Brands like Earth Balance create a smooth texture and the buttery taste you get with regular soft butter. Pure dairy-free spreads, Vitalite, and Flora spreads are fantastic butter alternatives to use on toast, sandwiches, and atop scones and crumpets. While these fats are highly processed, most of these spreads are rich in vitamin D. Remember to use sparingly to avoid over-consumption of these highly processed foods.

Best-rated butter alternatives on abillionveg: Nuttelex Vegan Butter, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, Earth Balance Coconut Spread, and Irene's Gourmet Butter.

It is easy to go dairy-free when you have access to substitutes for butter, cheese, milk, and much more! Look for more dairy alternatives in the product section of abillionveg.

If you've tried some dairy alternatives, what are your favorite brands? Let us know down below!

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Responses

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@solarpunkvegan profile image
solarpunkvegan2 YEARS AGO
My favorite cheese alternative is Chao by Field Roast, it's the best for grilled cheese, burgers, and other sandwiches. For dipping cheese's there's also Miyokos and Treeline. Kite Hill also makes things like cream cheese. So Delicious makes a cocowhip. Follow Your Heart has the best parmesan. There's tons of brands of yogurt as well. And I've also seen sour cream. Daiya is another dairy alternative maker but I don't like them personally, my friend enjoys their frozen pizzas. The only dairy alternative product I've never seen is cottage cheese, and honestly, who even likes that? Just kidding ;)
REPLY
@dhwani profile image
dhwani2 YEARS AGO
Wow! Thanks for the recommendations! I have only tried Daiya's cheddar and was not a fan. Looking out for great vegan cheeses,
REPLY
@spotgieter profile image
spotgieter2 YEARS AGO
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@mbonilla24 profile image
mbonilla242 YEARS AGO
Thanks for the suggestions. I love everything field roast
REPLY
@cjrudski profile image
cjrudski2 YEARS AGO
Thanks for the baking tips! Was really wondering how to bake vegan. 🙌
REPLY
@vikas profile image
vikas2 YEARS AGO
Love making my mylk at home!
REPLY
@veganverist profile image
veganverist2 YEARS AGO
Oat milk rules!!! Almonds/almond product are not vegan. Extremely short version: 80% of the world's almonds are grown in California. The sheer quantity of hives required far exceeds that of other crops. Apples, America’s second-largest pollination crop, use only 1/10th(!) the number of bees. Commercial honeybees are considered livestock by the US Department of Agriculture because of the creature’s vital role in food production. A recent survey of commercial beekeepers showed that 50 billion bees – more than seven times the world’s human population – were wiped out in a few months during winter 2018-19. This is the highest number since the annual survey started in the mid-2000s. A beekeeper interviewed, who trucks his bees to California, routinely loses 30% or more of his bees a year, mirroring national statistics. In any other industry, the death of a third of your workforce {or industrialized meat crop} would cause an international outcry – but this staggering loss is now considered the normal cost of doing business. No other class of livestock comes close to bee mortally rates. More bees die every year in the US than all other fish and animals raised for slaughter combined. The fact is that there are many more, and better, viable and use-diverse plants from which to make "milk." Almonds, and this is just my opinion, are not vegan.
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