Switching to a dairy-free diet can seem like an impossible task, but we’re here with some food swaps to help make your transition to lactose-free living as easy as possible.
Whether you’re cutting out dairy because of an intolerance, because you’re going vegan or because you think it’s good for your health, you don’t need to worry about feeling deprived.
You can still eat treats (including cake and biscuits!) and all sorts of delicious food — you just need to know what you can swap for things like yoghurt, cheese, milk and cream.
Wondering where to buy all the products in this list? A lot can be found at any supermarket, but you should definitely check out this list of our favourite places to buy dairy-free products.
Following a dairy-free diet? Try these easy swaps:
Swap cow’s milk for plant-based milk
This one is the most obvious, but not everyone realises that if a recipe calls for milk, it’s usually no problem to just replace it with your favourite non-dairy alternative milk.
When it comes to things like tea, coffee and cereal, you may have to try a few types and brands until you find something you like. Find a dairy-free milk to suit you.
Swap mozzarella for grilled tofu
Cheese is definitely the most difficult thing to replace when you’re on a dairy-free diet, but grilled tofu mimics the chewy texture of mozzarella remarkably well. It won’t melt though, so use it on things like sandwiches and stick to specialty non-dairy ‘cheese’ for meals like pizza.
Swap butter (used as a spread) for coconut oil, avo, roasted garlic or mayo
You might use butter as a spread almost every day, but you have a whole lot of (even tastier) options when it comes to something dairy free and delicious to put on sandwiches and toast.
Swap butter (used for baking) for dairy-free margarine, applesauce, mashed banana or avocado or coconut oil
If you’re looking for an easy dairy-free swap when baking, you can replace butter with dairy-free margarine without changing anything else in a recipe.
If you’d like to avoid margarine, you can experiment with coconut oil, applesauce, banana and even avocado, but recipes may need some tweaking. Here are some tips on cooking with coconut.
Swap ice cream for sorbet
No need to give up frozen treats! Just opt for sorbet instead of ice cream when you’re eating out. You can also make your own sorbet, or try your hand at ice cream, but replace the cream with a non-dairy alternative.
Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate
Hallelujah! Good-quality dark chocolate should not contain milk, so you can eat as much as you like — but it’s best to stick to a couple of blocks a day if you’d like to reap the health benefits of chocolate. It also means that recipes like this vegan chocolate cake are safe for you to try on a dairy-free diet.
Swap dairy-based cream for coconut or cashew cream
Cream replacements need to be thick and well, creamy, so look for something that meets those criteria. There are also products, like Orley Whip, that are designed to mimic cream perfectly, so you can whip them just like cream.
Swap Parmesan for nutritional yeast
Yes it has a weird name, but vegans swear by the savoury, salty taste of nutritional yeast for adding a flavour hit to almost any dish. Sprinkle it on sandwiches, use it in pesto and pasta and even add it to salads.
Swap cream cheese or yoghurt for mayo
We’re not suggesting you help yourself to a bowl of mayo and muesli, but you can use it in dressings and as a topping where you would otherwise use cream cheese, sour cream or yoghurt.
Because it’s so creamy, many of us think that mayo contains dairy. But here’s the good news: it doesn’t; it should be just egg and oil and a few flavourings. This may not apply to shop-bought mayonnaise though, so check the label, or make your own.
Swap creamy dips for hummus, guacamole or salsa
No need to feel left out on a dairy-free diet when everyone’s tucking in to chips and dips. Just go for dairy-free substitutes like hummus, guacamole or salsa. They’re healthier AND tasty, so you’re winning on both fronts. Remember to check the ingredients of the chips for cow’s milk, though, as some chips may include dairy.
If you want to go dairy free, but aren’t sure where to start, sign up to our #7Days #FreeFrom dairy newsletter. For one week, we’ll send you all the recipes, tips and inspiration you need. Sign up for free here.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.