Oh, the dairy debate… You have probably seen folks online (or even at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner table) get into a yelling match about how dairy is good or bad for you, how it is destroying your body or helping you stay strong, and all the rest.
Before I go on…
This is a pretty controversial topic that makes people feel inferior/superior, which is so not the TW-way. You have to do what is right for your own body, think for yourself, and challenge what mainstream media, big corporations, and highly funded industries tell you to do.
This also means to not just read this post and believe it 100% without a second thought. Do your own research, if you’re into it! All we’re asking of you today is to open to the idea of seeing things in a new light. There is no convincing here, though it may come across that way since this post is about being dairy-free vs. dairy-full.
Eat/drink whatever you want, but just inform yourself… Don’t let slimy industries (of whatever) take your power, autonomy, and wellness from you. Remember, money often buys results, and many “experts” that help create things such as food pyramids actually work for/are funded by the dairy industry.
Another note before moving on: There’s propaganda and slander from BOTH SIDES of this debate. I’ve found that since there’s been so much distrust in the meat and dairy industries, that those who advocate for the elimination of such products will do anything they can to get your attention and get their point across, even if it’s not completely scientifically backed. Take everything you see/hear with a grain of salt, always. THINK FOR YOURSELF.
With that said, let’s get into it.
Casomorphin is an opioid peptide derived from the digestion of the milk protein casein. Casein releases morphine-like compounds to the brain that attach to the same receptors as heroin, morphine, and other intense narcotics. Yikes! No wonder giving up cheese is one of the hardest things for people to cut out of their diet! It becomes an actual addiction.
We’ve all heard how milk is a great source for strong bones, but is it really the milk, or is it what’s inside the milk? Calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K are all rock stars for bone health, so find some foods that contain these elements — or take supplements, but we always encourage getting it directly from the (organic) source.
NON-DAIRY MILK OPTIONS
I’m sure you are not unfamiliar with the concept of non-dairy milk, whether you use them or not. Just like anything that is mass-produced, there is a very good chance there are some crappy additives to either make it taste better, give it a longer shelf life, or otherwise make it cheaper/easier to produce and distribute. With that, I have now opted to only make my own nut/seed/oat milk — which is way easier than you might think — except organic canned coconut milk.
Here’s how to make your own non-dairy milk:
- Soak ¼-½ cup of choice (raw) nuts and/or seeds in filtered water overnight (or pour boiled water over them for a quick-soak — 15-20 mins — if in a pinch)
- Drain and rinse
- Blend nuts with 1-2 cups of filtered water → Option to add dates, cinnamon, agave, vanilla, cacao, maca, etc. for a bonus!
- Strain with cheesecloth or nut milk bag, or any other small-holed straining modality of choice.
- Combine oats and filtered water (1:4 ratio usually feels right)
- Add any bonus ingredients (similar to the list in the nut milk recipe)
- Blend and strain
- You’re done!
*Sometimes I don’t strain the oats if I want a little extra power in my smoothies or cereal.
PRO-TIP: Mix it up! Do part nut, part seed, part grain… play with it! Experiment with using frozen berries, superfood powders, extracts, herbs, and more. This is the perk of making your own 🙂
CANNED COCONUT MILK FOR EVERYTHING
If coconut is your BFF like it is mine, let me introduce you to a GAME CHANGER in the kitchen… Using (organic) canned coconut milk/cream for basically anything.
Here’s what I do:
- Mix in coffee, cacao/superfood lattes, smoothies, matchas, etc.
- Use in salad dressings/dips to make it creamier, denser, and/or to balance out if I used too much garlic, cayenne, etc.
- Mix or blend coconut milk (or cream) with a little agave or maple syrup — and whatever else feels good: cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla — to make an amazingly easy and healthy dipping/topping cream for desserts! A better-for-you whipped cream option!
- If you aren’t using the whole can at once (in a given recipe or something), chances are the can will be left half-opened in the fridge, soon to be forgotten. I do this too often. To prevent this wasteful habit, I’ve started pouring the leftover milk in a jar to be ready for the next use! This practice has encouraged me to use what I have instead of continuing to look past it, since in my weird mind it’s not as fresh because it doesn’t have a tight seal, such as a jar.
- Coconut milk/cream is in most raw vegan dessert options:
Step 1, make a base — usually nut/seed/oat + date/fig/prune + whatever other ingredient is needed to obtain the flavor profile.
Step 2, make the filling/topping — usually cashew or coconut cream + natural sweetener + other ingredient(s) for flavor profile (cacao, matcha, berry, vanilla, etc.). Once you know this, you can create your own raw desserts without any guidance! Make a base, freeze it as you make your filling/topping, pour that on top, then freeze for a few hours! That’s it! Now you’re unstoppable.
–> Some raw TW desserts to inspire you. Click on the recipe description for these yummy treats.
SIMPLE DAIRY SWAPS
*Keep in mind that literally every single item on this list to swap has a non-dairy alternative that you can probably find at virtually any grocery store. In the spirit of consuming less processed junk — just because it’s “vegan” def doesn’t mean it’s good for you — I’ve crafted a list of simpler, minimal-ingredient swaps to choose from:
- Butter → Olive oil (on popcorn, toast, in recipes, yada yada)
- Cheese (in recipes) → Nutritional Yeast
- Ice cream → “Nice cream” (frozen banana-based, or use coconut cream + other frozen fruit if bananas aren’t your fav)
- Sour cream → Mashed avocado
- Cream cheese → Nut butter
- Cheese dips/sauces → Hummus, Tahini, Nut cheeses (check Cashew Ricotta recipe below!)
- Buttermilk → Non-dairy milk + apple cider vinegar (recipe here)
CASHEW RICOTTA CHEESE
Make your own nut/seed cheese! Have you seen the Vegan Cashew Ricotta we just posted, exclusively for you lovely members? Check it out in the ‘Food’ tab!
Did someone say a dairy-free, mayo-free Potato Salad??? Special recipe from the Taday Wellness main site blog = get into it.
MAKING YOUR OWN DIPS/CHEESES
Cashews are possibly the most common when it comes to a homemade non-dairy cheese, but if you don’t have any or don’t vibe with them, fret not! Here are some other items you can use as a cheese base:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Brazil nuts
**Just remember to soak nuts/seeds in hot water for ~20 mins to soften them (or in regular water, 4+ hours, in the fridge)
Mix and match base items for different flavors and textures… have fun widdit!
If you want to get a decently non-biased, entertaining, easy-to-follow-along, well-rounded look at dairy as a whole (history, science, media, industry, society, etc.), click here! This is fun to watch.
Some other dairy-free references to peek at:
Some Netflix options:
What the Health (2017)
Game Changers (2018)
I’m bookend-ing this post again with a disclaimer:
Eat and drink what feels best for you, but that means what actually feels best for you… not just what you’ve eaten for the past 20, 30, 50 years. Give yourself the opportunity to grow, heal, be challenged, and see what it does. If you feel you actually NEED dairy, look into why you think so, and move accordingly. We here at TW HQ aren’t onboard the Dairy Train, but that’s because it doesn’t work for OUR BODIES. See what works for yours, but again, be honest with yourself.
No one here wants to tell you what to do. We’re here to empower you to think for yourself, ask questions, reflect, and live in alignment with what makes you feel your most vibrant, healthy, and truest YOU! See if swapping some dairy-full items for dairy-free items does your body well. As always, experiment, play, think, feel and take action.
All of the Taday Wellness recipes are dairy-free, so if you aren’t sure where to go (though I’m sure you know how to google “dairy-free mac-n-cheese”), you know where to get some inspo! 😊