Dairy foods play a key role in many people’s diets. A number of food products are made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats, including cheese, yogurt, milk, butter and ice cream. But if you can’t or don’t want to eat dairy, you can find nondairy alternatives to these and many other dairy foods.
Why You Might Want Substitutes for Dairy
There are several reasons people might be looking for substitutes for dairy. Here are some of the more common ones:
- Milk allergy: 2–3% of kids under three have a milk allergy. This can cause a range of symptoms from hives and stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis. Most kids outgrow it by their teenage years.
- Lactose intolerance: 75% of the world’s population doesn’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the milk sugar lactose. This causes symptoms including bloating, gas and diarrhea.
- Vegan or ovo-vegetarian diet: Some vegetarian diets exclude dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but no dairy, while vegans exclude all food and products that come from animals.
- Potential contaminants: Some people choose to forgo dairy due to a concern over potential contaminants in conventional milk and dairy products, including hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.
The good news is there are plenty of substitutes for all the major dairy foods, including the seven below.