We have so many options these days for dairy alternatives! It’s still important to check labels, especially on new products, to avoid those “hidden” dairy or non-vegan ingredients, but I’ve put together my recommendations to save you some label reading. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; if you are striving for a whole-food plant-based lifestyle, all these dairy substitutions are not the solution. They are certainly better than the animal-derived versions, but like most creamy delicious packaged things, it’s important to be aware of the fat, sodium, and sugar these products add to any meal. Whether you are going to dig in once a day or once a year, here are some ideas:
- Cheese: There are tapioca-based, nut-based, soy-based, and coconut-based cheeses on the market. They range from more affordable, to swankier varieties. Watch those labels, and don’t get fooled by “lactose-free.” One of my favorites for burgers and quesadillas, is Chao Cheese Tomato Cayenne from Field Roast. Follow Your Heart also has great slices (along with all sorts of other products!) If you want some nice spreadable cheese to pair with some wine, splurge on Miyoko’s Kitchen.
- Dressing: If you love Ranch dressing, Follow Your Heart makes a great, creamy cruelty free vegan version! They also have other creamy varieties.
- Ice Cream: Fro-Yo or special lactose free ice creams like Arctic Zero (contains whey) can confuse some people. Make sure to find sweet treats that don’t contain any dairy, like coconut-, soy-, or cashew-based ice creams. Coconut Bliss (especially the Salted Caramel), Nada Moo, and So Delicious are some of my favorite brands. Basically, if it’s creamy and flavorful, I’ll like it. Ben & Jerry’s now has a few vegan offerings (with almond milk), and the best is always finding local, homemade vegan ice cream in vegan-friendly cities like Seattle, Portland, and NYC.
- Vegan Butter: My go-to brand is Earth Balance. They have soy free, organic, and other assorted varieties of their vegan butter sticks and spreads. I’ve also liked using Melt, but I don’t see it as often on the west coast.
- Milk: There are SO many kinds of milk! Cashew, almond, hemp, rice, soy, coconut, and rice are just the beginning. Some are thinner (rice) and some are super creamy (cashew). Many brands offer unsweetened and sweetened versions, so check labels! Our favorite is So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut.
- Coffee Creamer: The popular CoffeeMate “Non-Dairy” Creamer actually has milk deriviatives. They now produce an almond-based vegan product, and there are other great options from Silk and So Delicious. I don’t drink coffee, so check out this review for the best creamers!
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