Supposedly 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, meaning that 65% of us cannot digest dairy properly. So why are so many people still consuming it, and why is society holding onto the belief that it's an essential part of a balanced diet? There are countless plant-based alternatives available that are better for our health, ethical reasons, and the planet.
The dairy industry is thought to be even more inhumane than the meat industry, and due to the world’s growing obsession with accessing cheap food, it’s not looking as if it will change any time soon.
The good news is that it could not be easier to cut down on your consumption; thanks to all of the calcium-rich plant-foods and dairy alternatives out there.
I get it, you tried a piece of dairy-free cheese, and you hated it. So now you think that all of them are going to taste bad. But I can assure you that’s not true! Just because you like Edam that doesn’t mean you’re going to like stilton, right? Just look at dairy-free cheeses in the same way.
The selection of plant-based substitutes is practically endless, which means there’s more than likely one out there suited to your taste. Cheese is mega versatile because there are amazing luxurious, artisan brands out there that will blow you away! And don’t be afraid to try to make your own cheeses, too (it’s easier than you think). In terms of milk, you’ve got hazelnut, almond, oat, coconut, and that’s just scratching the surface.
Nooch is sometimes known as nutritional yeast or vegan yeast flakes. It’s a magical ingredient that’s high in B vitamins (most importantly, B12) and can be found in most health food stores. Nutritional yeast is a staple in vegan kitchens due to its cheesy, nutty flavour which makes it perfect for using in dairy-free versions of your favourite foods, such as, macaroni and cheese or parmesan.
Calcium helps to form and maintain healthy teeth and bones, making it incredibly important to your overall health. Fortunately, there are other calcium-rich plant foods to choose from, and they’re much healthier as they don’t contain any saturated fats. Some non-dairy foods that are high in calcium include broccoli, kale, fortified plant milk, and tofu.
It’s important to go at your own pace when it comes to switching up your diet, otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up to fail. I quit dairy overnight because that’s what worked best for me; I felt that doing things slowly would allow more time to talk myself out of it! However, if you would rather take things slower then I would recommend cutting out one food group at a time, for example, start with switching to dairy-free yoghurt, and then work your way up to the product that you find the most difficult.
If you find that you’re flagging and are wanting to go back to consuming dairy full-time, give yourself a gentle reminder of why you decided to cut down in the first place. Was it for ethical reasons? If so, think of the lives that you could be saving, and how much smaller your carbon footprint is. Was it for health reasons? Then think of the potential changes in your health and appearance that you will benefit from, whether it’s to do with your gut health or skin troubles.
After that, if you’re still struggling, then perhaps it’s not the right time for you to be changing your diet, or you need to change your methods. Giving up isn’t something to be ashamed about because you can always try again in the future!