Whether you’re Paleo, vegetarian, vegan or just health-conscious, a dairy-free approach might be on your radar and more importantly a dairy free diet.
But there are some important facts to consider when you’re thinking about eliminating dairy from your diet.
Firstly, we should know what exactly dairy is.
Put simply, dairy is any kind of animal milk and its by-products, including cheese, cream, butter and yoghurt.
Milk is most known as a source of calcium.
But it also contains other nutrients including protein, carbohydrate, fat, Vitamin A, D and E, B vitamins, phosphorous, lactose and casein.
That’s a lot in just one food!
Many types of processed foods also contain dairy products.
Desserts, ice cream, baked goods, dips and cakes are just some examples of foods that can contain dairy products.
If you’re in doubt about whether a food contains dairy, have a look at the ingredient labels, or ask the person serving you when eating out.
Cow’s milk and its derivatives are the main type of dairy food consumed in Australia.
However, there are other animal milk products available.
For example, goat milk has less lactose than cow’s milk, and some people find it easier to digest.
Why go dairy free?
There are many reasons why you might think about eliminating dairy products from your daily diet.
- You have an allergy or intolerance to dairy, lactose or casein. This is becoming increasingly common, with one study suggesting up to 75% of the population develop an allergy or intolerance at some point in their life
- You’re concerned that dairy may be having a negative impact on your health, such as bloating, gas, increased inflammation and other possible digestive disorders
- You’re concerned about the treatment of cows and dairy farming’s environmental impact
- You’re following a diet that removes dairy
- You want to fit in with the cool kids
But don’t we need dairy?
Many of us have been raised with the food pyramid, which tells us that dairy is a nutrient-dense food, and the best source of calcium.
But is dairy actually essential, or are there other ways to get enough nutrients in if you want to go dairy-free?
You might have heard that it is almost impossible to get the recommended 1000mg of calcium daily without dairy or you may have been warned that your bones will dissolve, and you’ll turn to jelly!
Despite a glass of milk containing approximately 250-300mg of calcium, it’s not the only source available to you.
There is calcium present in many plant and animal foods such as;
- Sardines with bones (350mg per 100g)
- Spinach (240mg per cup)
- Dried figs (200mg per 100g)
- Mussels (200mg per 12 mussels)
- Chia seeds (190mg per 30 grams)
- Cooked Oats (185mg per cup)
- Silverbeet (170g per cup)
- Okra (150mg per cup)
- Tempeh (111mg per 100g)
- Kale (100mg per cup)
- Parsley (83mg per cup)
- Almonds (60mg per 20 almonds)
- Sunflower seeds (55mg per 1/2 cup)
- Fortified foods such as cereals, juices and soy milk
You’ll notice that some of these ingredients feature in our Super Cubes frozen smoothie packs, so we’ve got you covered ;)
Vegetarians and vegans who have cut out milk also need to consider their vitamin B12 intake.
Most foods high in B12 are animal-based. Non-animal sources of B12 are restricted to shiitake mushrooms and B12 fortified foods such as cereals and nutritional yeast.
Eggs are another vegetarian source of B12, but you would need to consume around 4 eggs daily to get your recommended B12.
If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet and are concerned about your B12 levels, consult your healthcare practitioner to see whether supplements are right for you.
The good news is that other nutrients in dairy are relatively easy to consume if you’re eating a varied diet with plenty of whole-foods.
What to do?
Fortunately for you, more people are switching to a dairy-free lifestyle, which means more companies are providing substitutes for all your favourite dairy foods.
Looking for a milk substitute?
You’ve got a variety of options including coconut milk, nut milks, oat milk or soy milk and it’s also really easy to make your own dairy free milks!
Coconut can also be used to make dairy-free yoghurts, ice creams and similar other foods.
There are also plenty of nut-based dips and cheeses (that are delicious, we must say).
So the choice is yours to follow a dairy free diet and the variety of foods is definitely there available for you if you want to start making the changeover.
Choose wisely, learn well and remember to check out the dairy free options in the Super Cubes frozen smoothie range while you're here visiting.