Think you can’t live without milk, cheese or ice cream? The good news is that you don’t have to! Dairy-free alternatives for these foods and many more are now readily available for compassionate shoppers. The range of products is already bigger than you might think, getting bigger all the time and, best of all, no bobby calves or their mums were harmed in the making of these delicious foods.
There is a large variety of non-dairy milks available in supermarkets (mostly in the long-life milk aisle) and it’s a matter of trying a few and seeing which ones you like best in your coffee or on your cereal.
Soy milk is usually the cheapest non-dairy milk and many people love it. (Bonsoy is our favourite). But you might prefer rice milk (Aldi sells this cheaply), oat milk, almond milk or coconut milk.
If you’re partial to flavoured milk, try Vitasoy Soy Milky which comes in coffee and chocolate flavours.
Sometimes too, it’s a matter of experimenting with different brands to discover your favourites. (you can check out what’s on special and try out some new ones!) But here’s our big tip for making a successful change to non-dairy milks: if your taste buds have been used to dairy milk for a long time, it will probably in all honesty take them a little while to adapt to new tastes. But if you persist for a week or two, most people find their taste buds adapt. In fact, many people report that if they try dairy milk after a few months’ absence, its taste has become sour and unpleasant!
The thought of living without cheese used to be a big stumbling block for people thinking of giving up dairy. But things have changed for the better in the past five years and now it is much easier to find quality non-dairy cheeses in many of your favourite styles. These range from traditional cheddar style, smoked, soft, cream cheeses and spreads. Some supermarkets now stock Biocheese (a mild tasting block cheese). Brisbane’s best known vegan supermarket, The Green Edge, stocks a large variety of non-dairy cheeses (including Tofutti, Vegusto, Miyoko and Daiya), as do the various Flannerys stores and Wray Organic stores. Terry White Chemist at Lutwyche currently has a brilliant range of non-dairy goodies, and it is also worth checking your local health food store to see what they might have in stock.
Some plant-based cheeses melt beautifully on your pizzas while others will be scrumptious when sliced or spread on crackers. Once more, you can have great fun trying them out!
For people who enjoy cooking, a whole new world of vegan cheese making awaits you! Non-dairy cheeses can be based on cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, plant milks, and even coconut oil. You may become addicted to creating your own sensational products at a fraction of the cost to buy them! There are a myriad of vegan food blogs to guide you nowadays. For a range of recipes, try Cooking with Plants.
Like making cheese sauces? In plant-based cooking, there is a great substitute for cheese: savoury yeast flakes (sometimes known as nutritional yeast). This is found in health food stores and in many Coles supermarkets. Here’s one recipe with excellent results.
Most dark chocolate is dairy-free – and good for you! Look for Lindt dark chocolate (70%) and Whittakers dark chocolate in the supermarket or at Big W. (If ever in doubt about whether other brands of dark chocolate contain milk products, just check the label.).
The Noosa Chocolate Factory’s dark chocolate range is 100% vegan, and they have delicious fruit and berry flavours as well as plain. Find their stores in Adelaide St or at Garden City.
The Alter Eco range of chocolates has just hit Coles and their range of flavours includes mint and salted caramel.
The Sweet William range of chocolates in the health food aisle of the supermarket is all dairy-free and their white chocolate blocks are fabulous for eating or baking (think raspberry and white chocolate muffins!) Sweet William also has choc chips for baking as well as chocolate bars for snacks. Other brands of dairy-free chocolate and snack bars can be found in the health food aisle too.
Seatonfire chilli chocolate is made in the Lockyer Valley and many flavours are vegan. Order online.
If you’re a true chocaholic though, you will want to visit The Green Edge as they sell a large variety of non-dairy chocolate products – even Mars bar-type treats!
Ice Cream and Sorbet
Coconut, soy, soft-serve and sorbet – enjoy them in a cone, bowl or straight out of the container. Guilt free? Unfortunately no, if you’re calorie counting. But cruelty free? YES!! We love Cocofrio (the salted caramel……swoon. Just trust us). There’s also smooth and creamy Over the Moo, So Good (soy-based), CocoLuscious, Coyo and Weis sorbets (but not Weis icecreams which are dairy-based). And if you love soft-serve, you can’t go past Coco-whip.
For those who prefer home made, you can whip up your own delicious dairy-free ice cream with just a few ingredients. Here’s one super-easy vanilla ice cream recipe:
Blend one 400g can of chilled, full fat coconut milk, one cup of your favourite non-dairy milk, one cup of sugar and one tablespoon of vanilla extract. Churn in an ice cream maker.
Yogurt and Margarine
Nuttelex is a favourite dairy-free spread found in supermarkets. It comes in original, olive oil, lite, buttery and coconut oil (palm oil free). It’s great for any occasion in place of butter and is terrific for baking (if you’ve ever tried a beautiful Cloverly cupcake, Nuttelex is what they use for shortening). Some margarines contain small amounts of milk, so please check the labels.
You can find soy-based Kingland yoghurts in the supermarket. Coconut-based Coyo can be purchased at The Green Edge and other specialty shops.