What to Know Before Going Dairy-free

 

I’m going to tell you this upfront: It’s going to be hard. Giving up cow products probably involves giving up some of your favorite foods. Dairy is one of the most common ingredients in almost every meal. Going dairy-free will require you to change your entire lifestyle, but in my opinion the pros outweigh the cons.

It’s been about two years since I decided to stop eating dairy products completely and even longer than that since I stopped eating beef. When I first decided to give up dairy, I tried to give up milk and cheese first, I didn’t concern myself with dairy within other products. This is the hardest step. Cheese is such a staple in our diets so this significantly limits your options for what to eat. Honestly, it just means thinking a little more about what you are going to order when you eat out and erasing cheese and milk from your grocery list. But once you give up milk and cheese you’re halfway to a dairy-free diet.

Dropping dairy completely from your diet takes a little more work in terms of research. It requires you to know what is going into your food, what products are naturally dairy free, and what to order at restaurants (remember to inform the waiter of your dietary preferences to avoid confusion). Going dairy free may also require you to cook at home a little more than you are used to.

As you're shopping look out for the following items on ingredients labels: casein (any kind), caseinates (any kind), curds, delactosed whey, ghee, lactalbumin,  lactalbumin phosphate, lactoferrin, lactoglobulin, paneer, whey.

These are the more hidden types of dairy in labels, but of course don't forget to watch out for the more obvious ones such as butter or whipped cream. Most ingredient labels will include "contains: milk" at the end of the ingredients list which is super helpful, but I recommend always double checking!

You’ll have to change much of your lifestyle to live dairy free but many of these changes are small. I've realized in the past couple of weeks that having a community of fellow vegans, vegetarians, or alternative-milk-enthusiasts is a crucial part of beginning this lifestyle. Turning to others for encouragement and tips has helped me feel even more confident in my decision.  I’ll be here to help you every step of the way with recipes, advice, and products to make your transition easier. And I hope we can all help each other through this slightly traumatic loss of Mac 'n' Cheese.