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Dairy Alternatives: Lactose & Dairy-Free

For every dairy product, there is a cruelty-free alternative. In addition to being more humane than cow’s milk, soy-, rice-, and nut-based milks and cheeses are generally lower in fat and calories and contain no cholesterol.

Milk: Soy, rice, or nut milk can replace cow’s milk in any recipe. Soy and rice milks are available in a variety of flavors including plain, vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. If you cannot find a nondairy milk, try making soy milk at home.

• For desserts, try using almond, oat, or coconut milk.
• For whipped cream, try Rich’s brand nondairy whipping cream, beaten until stiff peaks form. You can find it at most Kosher or specialty baking stores.
• For buttermilk, combine one cup soy milk and one tablespoon vinegar.
• Silk brand creamer makes an excellent coffee creamer.

Cheese: You can make vegan cheese at home; check out our recipe section or The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak, available online at the PETA Mall. There are also plenty of convenient alternatives to cheese, such as the following, available at the grocery store or online:

• Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative by Follow Your Heart brand comes in mozzarella, nacho, Monterey jack, and cheddar flavors and contains no casein (a milk derivative). You’ll find it in natural food stores or online.
Tofutti brand makes a wide variety of soy cheeses, including nondairy cream cheese, as well as vegan sour cream and ice cream.
• Replace cottage or ricotta cheese with crumbled, seasoned tofu.
• For parmesan cheese, try Soymage vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast flakes.

Yogurt: Try Silk or Whole Soy brand vegan yogurts alone or in a recipe.

Ice Cream: There is a wide variety of vegan ice cream available on the market. Try Soy Delicious, Soy or Rice Dream or Tofutti, brand.

Don’t forget to check out our vegan shopping guide and delicious recipes.

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  • unknown says:

    i raise, butcher and eat my own chickens/turkeys and i don’t see any problem with it. it may be gross to reach into a chicken and pull out the guts or be the one to kill them but where I live Agriculture is a way of life and I’m willing to defend it.

  • George says:

    Greetings – please remember to include coconut milk and coconut ice cream as dairy replacements!!! Soy has been known to have very high absorbed pesticides – to keep the weeds out – most farmers spray soy crops heavily and the soy plant absorbs the pesticides – JJvirgin.com “So Delicious” is the brand I use and I LOVE it… I used to have rootbeer floats… and now replace that with a small portion of coconut ice cream and blueberries.
    http://www.sodeliciousdairyfree.com/ enjoy!

  • PETA says:

    @Tracy: You can order a free vegan starter kit here: http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/free-vegetarian-starter-kit.aspx

    And a great resource is here: http://features.peta.org/how-to-go-vegan/

    Congratulations on deciding to go vegan!

  • Tracy Rife says:

    I am 54 years old and have heard tell of the crulity animals endure for our eating pleasure but until today I never really realized how awfull it is. I accidently saw something my husbend downloaded from the internet that has shaken me up. I want to change the way I eat so I can at least know that I am not a part of the problem but this is new,new,new to me. I have no idea of what I am getting myself in to. I am so used to drinking milk and eating cheese for protine and to feel full. I havn’t had any animal products to eat today and I am hungry. Can anyone help me with this drastic diet change? I would appreciate any advise.

  • Heidi says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for about 16 years. I’m now considering, after researching the dairy industry more, that I don’t want to b part of it anymore, because of animal welfare & my health. I want to become a vegan. Which is going to b very hard for me. although reading some of the comments on here, its very confusing whats good for you & what isn’t. Things that ive thought were good I’m now hearing to not consume too much. My main concern is my weight. I loose weight very easy & its hard enough now to keep weight on. I’m worried becoming a vegan Will turn me into a skeleton. Anyone else have this problem? & will becoming a vegan make this worse? Everything always goes on about losing weight, what about if you don’t want to lose it.

  • Jill says:

    I live about a mile from a dairy and I see the newborn calves that have been taken away from their moms and put in cages so that people can have their mothers’ milk. I see the babies,their little noses pressed against the wire, trying to see beyond their captivity. I long to set them free and let their mothers love them – but their mothers are imprisoned as well, standing in a hard, dirty feedlot, enduring the same miserable conditions yards away. The babies are kept on a hard, cold cement floor with no comfort such as straw because their new diet gives them diarrhea and the cement floor is easily washed by a hose…leaving only cold water for them to lie or stand on. A few months later these sweet, gentle animals who knew no mother or love or comfort, or ever experienced the warmth of the sun or the joy of stretching in the soft grass, will be shipped away unceremoniously to die a brutal death in the slaughterhouse and other babies will have replaced them. Since they are “livestock” there are no animal cruelty laws which apply, and the best thing you can do to ease their and all livestock suffering – is to stop consuming any animal products. I don’t find it even a tiny bit difficult to be a vegan and am happy to provide recipes to anyone having difficulty. I appreciate all of you who are vegans as well as those of you who are trying.

  • Soliraja says:

    To Sameera (and everyone else) It isn’t just about animal welfare, although that is important. Dairy products and other animal fats cause us to pee away out calcium. (Pls watch “Food That Kills” by Dr. Klaper.) In countries where they don’t eat meat and can’t afford milk, osteoporosis is unheard of. We have been misled by the Dept of Agriculture since the 1950s. Dairy is NOT a source of calcium for us – it reduces our calcium. Notice cows don’t drink it once they grow up.

  • ishika says:

    Relieve the cows from this torture by switching to soya

  • ruta says:

    yes..surely it can be..this will be my part to help some innocent animals

  • Maria Esquer says:

    There is no need to cause pain to others for food in today’s society. We now have so many choices to avoid torture on other species.

  • sameera says:

    do you suggest that we should stop having dairy products like milk?but how does getting milk harm animals or hurt them?

  • Propapanda says:

    ou may be in need of nonbiased education. Bottom line: our ancestors who did not mill wheat or have dairy were far healthier and we can definitely do better without. Milk is for baby cows not humans.

  • Propapanda says:

    @chris…think before you speak. You can not possibly be a vegan and eat dairy of eggs. True vegans do not consume or use any animal or animal byproduct which obviously included dairy and eggs. Also, you should appropriately research dairy products, how they are made, what they contain and how our society, especially American politics affect the fallacies we have grown up with. You can thank your FDA for leading you to think that dairy is a necessity to your diet, pus is not part of mine. As for soy causing you health problems…propaganda well paid for by afiliates of the American Farmers Association, not to mention that EVERYTHING consumed should be done so in moderation. Many ailments are miscommunication in your nervous system caused by spinal/chiropractic issues you may be unaware of. Education is the root of it all and sadly like many here in this country, y

  • Stevie says:

    Ok ya’ll. I love my dairy products and honestly it would be too hard for my family and I to give up dairy products because we eat so much of it. I’ve learned that eating too much non-dairy supplements is actually bad for your health, but I don’t want to promote animal cruelty. Can anyone tell me of a cruelty free dairy farm where they treat their animals with respect?

  • chander kumar soni says:

    so cool and mind blowing replacement.

  • Jessy says:

    Your tips are amazing. But here is the problem; they’re only suitable for people who live in US or maybe in Europe. I live in Egypt and we don’t have all of these vegan substitutes, which makes it impossible to stick to a vegan diet. I’ve been trying out being vegan for the past 11 years! and I always fail because there are no suitable substitutes for the “normal” diet. Can you please post in some DIY recipes for substitutes so that we dont have to suffer as much??!!
    Thank you

  • Chris says:

    I have been an ovo-lacto-vegan (eggs+dairy vegan) for over 20 years. One big problem with the natural/organic/cruelty-free dairy food replacements is the high cost; however, there is a cost-benefit balance to consider since eating organic may help keep you from developing our new #1 killer, cancer (heart disease is now #2). Even more important for those who can afford organic soy dairy food replacements are the estrogen-mimickers which occur naturally in soy products. Eating a lot of soy, even organic, is bad for folks of any age, but particularly so for babies, children, and women of childbearing age. Please enjoy these products in moderation. If you consume dairy products every day, please consider NOT doing the same with soy-based dairy replacements. An alternative strategy might be to buy dairy only from known organic cruelty-free suppliers & supplement/replace with some of the organic soy products on an occasional basis. Moderation also seems wise for the rice products (arsenic) as well. https://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/02/23/147294466/in-rice-how-much-arsenic-is-too-much http://www.thelotustrust.org/ahimsa.html “Cow-slaughter and man-slaughter are in my opinion the two sides of the same coin.” Gandhi

  • indycar01 says:

    milk is for baby cows, excessive dietery protein not only depletes the bodys calcium, it also overloads and damages the kidneys. can everybody PLEASE! email the indycar drivers (indycar.com has drivers facebook page) every year the winner drinks dairy milk, TELL EM WHY!.. they need to switch to soymilk.

  • rvp says:

    Ruth, Thank you for the tip about Silk having ties to the dairy industry and veal production. Good to know when I look at the non-dairy items on the shelf the next time round.

  • Jem says:

    @ AC06 I’m in a similar position although have only been vege for a year and a half. I also am considering being vegan, I currently eat only free range eggs but I want more info on milk and I know dairy will be extremely difficult to give up but also willing to be converted. Something preventing me from being vegan are the health implications..?

  • Reenie says:

    Hi there,
    I make 100% plant-based vegan cheese alternatives that are addicting but in the healthiest way! It’s called “PeaceCheese” and I am currently selling four super yummy varieties on my website: http://www.ilovepeacecheese.com ! Come visit me!

  • rvp says:

    Great post Joyce! Thank you.

  • Alan says:

    would like to be vegan, currently i’m a fisho-cheeso-semi-vegetarian.
    unfortunately it is not true that there are vegan alternatives for
    cheese. It would be nice if some food technologists could make
    a passable vegan blue cheese, a passable vegan parmigiano.
    On the other hand, i like vegan pizza. that means NO cheese, no goop, not diary goop and not oozing soy goop.
    How about if some of the high roller hollywood type PETA
    supporters would start a vegan pizza chain called
    “No Cheese Please!” ??

  • AC06 says:

    I’m trying to phase out dairy after being a vegetarian for most of my life. I want to do it because I sort of know it’s the right thing to do, but I could do with some real inspiration.

    Are free range eggs, butter and organic dairy milk really so bad?

    Any help? My hands are up and I’m willing somebody to convert me here.

  • Alafair Robicheaux says:

    @ Anja Ahimsa cows are treated humanley and the babies are never taken from their moms but i think they are only in Europe http://www.ahimsamilk.org/

  • Anja says:

    Ok, I’ve been a vegetarian for about 3 years now, and I eat no meat whatsoever, also not fish. I became a vegetarian because I don’t want to support the animal cruelty surrounding the meat industry, but I still rink milk and eat cheese and butter, and those are HUGE sources of protein for me. My question is: are there any ways to buy cow milk that comes from a REAL farm, where the cow was allowed to keep it’s baby and wasn’t over-milked or abused or treated with hormones or anything? Please let me know!

  • Joyce says:

    Just an opinion searching for a place to vent- After a lot of research on hormonal release and other stress-induced responses of the bodies of human beings, I have come to the definitive conclusion that we are in more trouble than we thought. Despite a smattering of anxiously defensive reports to the contrary (wonder who payed for those), we MUST see that humana (and their pets, too)are absolutely, no doubt whatsoever eating the fear,the terror and the anguish of the animals they consume, whether through their flesh, milk, eggs or other parts of their bodies, via their months or years of extreme stress hormone production. The amount of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenalin, would have to be incredibly high in any of those animals when they finally die,or else we can no longer say we believe in the horrific dangers of living a stressful life ourselves.Surely those who say these animals are not very stressed and have no stress hormones in their flesh, skin, bones, hair, milk or eggs must think the public is amazingly stupid. Well, on second thought, there are some people who have as yet failed to put two and two together. But they will. So I have some questions, if that’s okay. First, what is this profoundly cruel and painful treatment of animals,followed by their ravenous consumption doing to humans? We already know that the rate of children with ADD/ADHD, autism, PDD and other primarily neurological disorders has skyrocketed over the last forty years. A large part of that amount is directly attributable to the pesticides and toxins coming from produce and grains,of course. But that’s not the only thing we have been eating that is destroying our DNA and our lives (Cancer, heart attacks – remember those top two killers we have been warned for many years to avoid by keeping our stress low? Even ADD/ADHD, diabetes and obesity,are on the rise in adults,despite all our new-found knowledge and medications, as are a gamut of neurological dysfunctions, as we have chosen to call them. So if that is happening to humans, what is it doing to dogs and cats and other pets to whom people, even many vegans and vegetarians for lack of funds usually, continue to feed little ground up live baby chicks and dying calves? How are they holding up? Or are they? Are there changes there, too?
    Second, I keep hearing people say that they are fine with raising animals for their meat, their fur and their skins and whatever else as long as it is done humanely. Besides being one l-o-n-g oxymoron sentence, are they not lying to themselves? I believe their statements to be completely untrue. In many countries people still serve much-sought-after entrees of dogs and/or cats in popular eateries (young puppies and kittens being the most tender and sometimes treated like a young calf to make them ‘veal-like’, it seems.) Do you think these people would truly be okay with that if ‘done humanely’? I think not. Lastly (and thank you for your patience), I have often wondered about all of the sci-fi people out there who consider themselves meat-eating, fur-wearing, leather- coated Trekkies. Ha! On one of the very first shows of the Star Trek Generations series, Will Riker stated that (only slightly paraphrased), “We don’t eat animals, sir. Humans stopped using animals as slaves hundreds of years ago.” I say, as one of the continuing movements towards change, let’s dare the Trekkies and scifi buffs to be really true to themselves…or admit defeat and resign from the Federation immediately! Who’s with me?

  • Lexikins says:

    @Denay Laop: I agree, cutting out meat is especially beneficial to the environment, our health, and the well-being of animals. Something to also consider—not at all being judgemental here!—is that unless you are buying organic fish, you are most likely getting “factory fish” so to speak. They dredge up fish from rivers and store them in small containers, with way too many fish per area of space. One negative consequence is that many fish die, or get diseases and rapidly pass them to all the other fish because they are in much closer proximity than they ever would be in the wild. It’s nasty and pretty much as bad as factory farming. So buy local/organic as much as possible! :)

  • billy says:

    I also think the non-dairys are expensive. They taste good but they are expensive! Silk is almost twice the cost of regular milk at the supermarket near me. I switch back and forth from silk to regular usually.

  • Kathleen says:

    RE: milk alternatives
    By happenstance, I tried a hemp milk (vanilla, nonsweetened; comes unrefrigerated in a box) and it is by far my favorite. No chalky aftertaste. No corn sweetner. If you’re still looking around, you might give it a try.

  • Denay Laop says:

    I’m pescetarian, and being vegan is a hard task, because you have to watch out for ALL foods you eat. I am considering so, but because I chose not to give up fish or seafoods, I cannot be vegan. People should consider at LEAST giving up meats because if you buy it, you are supporting the slaughterhouses and the abusing of animals, necessary to get the meat. All these subsitutes are also not very good for your body, because they are artificial and all that stuff, but being vegan for just maybe, twice a week will help.

  • Kathy says:

    I completely agree….everyting is truly expenive. Even 1lb containers of Tofu has gone up by almost $1…..is this some government ply(?) I almost have to wonder about this.

  • Nichola says:

    I’m a vege, have been since 1995. I will always buy dairy products that are 100% free range, or not at all. In NZ the non-dairy alternatives are incredibly expensive (even coke is cheaper than milk). Crazy. Too much outta my league.

  • Katharine Sullivan says:

    How do I get around being allergic to corn, soy, coconut, avocado and nuts? Most of the alternative proteins are a problem.

  • Shannon says:

    Been Veg for almost 4 years now! I feel great too~

  • T-Veg says:

    I agree with Ruth…International delight creamers are made by the same manufacturers!

  • T-Veg says:

    I agree..SILK and International delight creamers…same manufacturers!!!

  • Ruth says:

    Why are you promoting Silk brand coffee creamer when the company has ties to the dairy industry and veal production?

  • Sylvia says:

    Wow, I just came across this, but it must be an old post, because it’s missing lots of great dairy alternatives like Daiya vegan cheese, Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese, Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese and Sour Cream alternatives, Wayfare Foods We Can’t Say It’s Cheese, Soyatoo and Healthy Top whipped creams, and all the delicious coconut milk beverages, coffee creamer, yogurt, kefir, and ice cream by So Delicious.

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