The Five Best Dairy Substitute Products

Written by Christine Kane

Except for soy milk, I don’t use a lot of dairy substitutes. I’m pretty happy eating whole natural foods without trying to substitute ingredients to conjure up the flavor of, say, sour cream. It has taken some time and practice to arrive at this place though. And there are some days and weeks where I just want to eat something that feels and tastes like cheese or mayo or whatever. The products below are – IMHO – the best out there. (Believe me – there are some bad ones out there too!)

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1 – Vegenaise – Mayo Substitute

Unbelievably good. This is my husband’s favorite stuff in the world. He likes it better than mayo. This is saying quite a bit – as he wasn’t quite as exhuberant as I was about going down the vegan path. Vegenaise is amazing on tomato sandwiches. There are also lots of recipes on the web that use this as an ingredient.

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2. Earth Balance – Butter Substitute

This is truly one of those cliche “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” products. Very tasty. It melts well. It spreads well. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Note: Don’t get fooled by “Smart Balance,” which has dairy (and chemicals) in it.

Note: It takes us about 8 months to go through one of these little vats. We forget to use it! That’s because the very best substitute for butter can be had by following these 4 steps: 1. Get a small glass or porcelain container with a lid. 2. Fill it about two-thirds full of olive oil. 3. Freeze it overnight. 4. Take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. Use as a butter spread when needed. An olive oil purist will faint at the thought of freezing the stuff. But believe me, you’ll love it instead of butter.

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3. When I drank milk, I only drank Organic Valley. It’s a great company/co-operative of organic farms. They have great products. So, when they came out with soy milk, I was thrilled. And it’s simply the best soy milk around. I get the unsweetened kind. It comes in Vanilla, Original, Unsweetened. (And I think there’s Chocolate too.) Try it. It’s amazing. And it makes for great smoothies too! It’s only in the refrigerated section – so you won’t find it in the aisle with all the other soy milks.

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4. Vegan Gourmet – Cheese Substitute

Chris commented on the last post about Vegan Gourmet Cheese. It’s his favorite. I like it too. (Though the text on the package says “It Melts!” – which I’ve never quite figured out how to make happen!) Lots of soy cheeses are just horrific. This is one of the good ones. Mozzarella or Monterey Jack are the best. I like it because it’s kind of a softer cheese texture. (Think “feta.”) And it works in small strips in salads, and sliced in sandwiches. It’s one of those soy cheeses that makes me wonder, “How long did someone have to experiment to make something this completely perfect?” It’s a good cheese. I mostly eat it plain when I’m having a “comfort food” attack!

soyakaas.jpg 5. Soya Kaas Soy Cheese (not 100% vegan) / Vegi-Kaas Soy Cheese (vegan)

Soya Kaas is the best melting soy cheese around. It has casein (milk protein) in it – so it’s not vegan. Vegi-Kaas, made by the same company, is vegan. It’s harder to find though. But it gets a huge thumbs up for vegan cheese. Here’s my rule with soy cheeses: Never buy anything yellow or orange. Yuck. It ruins them. Soya Kaas’s best flavors are Mozzarella (Don’t get the non-fat kind. Double yuck.) and Monterey Jack. (American Chedder is in the picture only because I couldn’t find any other flavors in photos!) I have a cheese grater that’s a spool with a crank. That grater is truly the best thing in the world to grate soy cheese. And I’ve made the best pizza in the world with Soya Kaas and my little crank spool cheese grater. I’ve fooled even die-hard cheese lovers with Soya Kaas. It’s good. But since I learned that Soya Kaas contains casein , I am learning to make things with Vegi-Kaas.

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{22 comments ... read them below or add one}

Ditch The Dairy: Surprisingly Delicious Substitutes | GoodVeg
November 14, 2011 at 10:32 am

{22 comments ... read them below or add one}

John September 6, 2007 at 7:08 am

I’ve tried a lot of veg products in my 12 years as a vegan (four years vegetarian before that). You made some great suggestions and I’d like to second them, and add a few items to your list. (I have no financial interest in these companies; I’m just a fan.)

1. Vegenaise is indeed the best “unflavored” not-mayo. You might want to try Wildwood’s Garlic Aioli or Sun-dried Tomato Aioli. To die for.

2. Earth Balance is the best but I’m looking forward to freezing olive oil!

3. Vita Soy makes good soy milk. I use their unsweetened and it’s much better than it might sound. :-) And if your cereal is sweetened, you probably won’t notice the milk not being sweetened. They also have vanilla and chocolate flavors. I can even find vegan “egg nog” during the holidays!

4/5. Yeah, there’s no great vegan cheddar yet but vegan cheeses (and other vegan products) have gotten much better and continue to improve. Vegan Gourmet is the best I’ve tried. As for “cream” cheese, Tofutti’s Better Than Cream Cheese is superb and comes in several flavors. They also make a bunch of tempting desserts.

Speaking of which, Turtle Mountain’s Purely Decadent line of frozen dessert (non-dairy “ice cream”) is lip smackin’ good. How can one pass up flavors like Chocolate Obsession, Peanut Butter Zig Zag, and Cherry Nirvana?

Note that these aren’t fat-free or low-calorie foods so folks should use good judgment when deciding on portion size. :-)

My vegan friends would agree with you, Christine, that being vegan isn’t about sacrificing. It’s about living mindfully and feeling good about what you eat.

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Christi September 6, 2007 at 7:57 am

I’m seriously considering making this change…I think it will be so much better healthwise. Thank you for the encouragement!

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Christine Kane September 6, 2007 at 8:31 am

thanks for all the great suggestions john! a friend of mine makes this fabulous dip from the tofutti cream cheese and something else (i can’t remember what.) i’ve gone in and out of the whole icecream thing with non-dairy stuff. but since i created my own raw non-dairy icecream recipe (with thai coconut), i haven’t wanted to eat anything else for dessert!

thanks christi – i’m glad to know it’s encouraging you. let me know how it goes!

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Whitetshirts September 6, 2007 at 1:28 pm

I have a stupid question. I know that my health should be the most important thing I spend money on, but was wondering how much more groceries cost on this type of diet. I live in a small Midwest town, and I am not even sure I would know where to start looking for some of the products.

I was just wondering if anyone had a ballpark idea of what the difference in cost has been since you made the switch.

Thanks!

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Linda M Reply:

I know what you mean , I too live in a small rural town, there are lots of food items that can’t be found any where here…one is fennel….finally bought seeds, going to try to grow my own.
Most cooking shows are set for the big city folk..how about someone doing a real health food show for people on limited incomes and small towns !!

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Christine Kane September 6, 2007 at 3:00 pm

hi whitetshirts — well, here’s the thing: a long time ago, even when i was making minimum wage as a nanny, I decided that my first priority was going to be my health – and that included eating well. And that meant organic. And it meant spending more than i would spend if i were buying processed food with coupons, etc. So – that being said – I find the vegan food options pretty budget conscious. Raw food, however, can get very price-y, especially when you consider that organic almonds are $18/pound – and you gotta keep making almond milk! but let’s say you have some stir-fried tofu and steamed broccoli for dinner — that’s way cheaper than eating out most anywhere. it kind of depends on what you’re used to spending and what your intentions are. what might be “cheap and simple” for me – might be completely overpriced for you. i’d recommend that you make a decision about this outside of the money issue first. and then work with the boundaries that you’ve created for yourself. i hope that makes sense!

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Michelle September 8, 2007 at 10:56 pm

Who knew there were so many good substitutes out there? I’d never even heard of substitute mayo.

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beej October 1, 2007 at 8:23 pm

Smart Balance is vegan, kosher, and lactose-free, depending on which variety you buy. There is no lactose in in the Light, Trans-fat free version, and the Light Buttery Spread version is listed as Kosher/Pareve, with no dairy (whey or casein) in it. Also, if you check the Smart Balance list of ingredients, anything you might perceive as a chemical, is simply not. The ingredients such as Palm Fruit oil and other ingredients are simply dirived from natural sources. Just thought I’d point that out :) It’s delicious, and very similar in taste and consistency (such as when cooking) to butter. The Earth Balance spread tastes good as well.

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Jenn December 11, 2007 at 6:57 pm

Hi Christine,
I stumbled across your blog while frantically looking for more information on Vegi-Kaas. I discovered last year that I am intolerant of gluten, soy, dairy, and eggs and haven’t had cheese since! :( But now I’ve found Vegi-Kaas online which may work out, but haven’t been able to find any more info on it besides the name! Is there a website with more info, i.e. an ingredient list? Where is it sold? Who makes it? Thanks for helping if you can!

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Celeste Clevenger March 16, 2009 at 10:12 am

Question about freezing olive oil – do you only take it out of the freezer when you plan to use it or do you just need to freeze it once and then it stays solid in the refrigerator?

Also, can you use a plastic container instead of glass?

Thanks!

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Kim May 31, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Christine, I just wanted to thank you for posting this information. Like someone else mentioned, I also have been informed of several allergies…milk, wheat, peanuts, walnuts…among others. I only found out last Wednesday and adjusted on Thursday…and haven’t eaten very much since then. I really, really, really want to make my oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (or some variation that I can eat) and needed a substitute for butter. Your site not only provided me information on that, but also educated me on other names to avoid (casein). I am very grateful and looking forward to going back to the store tomorrow and trying to find products again. I’m starting to think I wont starve to death after all. :)

Kim

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Bossy Miss P April 28, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Can anyone help? Where can I buy organic gourmet cheese in the UK. I can’t find a stockist. Even online the stockist’s only deliver in the US or Canada. Thanks.

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Cam Johnson April 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

I have to issue a word of caution for those with food allergies. Sometimes we avoid
dairy products for other reasons than because we are vegans.

There is something worse than lactose intolerance called milk protein sensitivity. Some products that are advertised as dairy free still contain a milk protein under various names.

This is vary harmful for the allergy sufferer. I don’t know if a product exists that is totally free
of some form of milk. If I am wrong, please tell me where to find it,

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Christine Kane Reply:

Thanks Cam! I have since stopped using any and all dairy replacement items for the very reasons you wrote about here!

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Glenys July 16, 2011 at 5:01 am

Hi could anyone out there tell me where I can buy the product vesenaise mayo , earth balance spread whipped ,vegan gourment monterey jack.
This is all new to me, I have decided to change my esting habits due to a health issue.
Thanks you for any help given.
I have tried the inter net but noy to good at finding products.

Glenys

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Christine Kane Reply:

Glenys – you can get all of this at whole foods.

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Marilyn Fricke July 31, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Thanks for all the great product imput! I wanted to point out that follow Your Heart Veganaise mayo also makes what they call a salad dressing and sandwich spread which is called “regular” and another product which is a mayo. I would recommend the product that specifically says salad dressing on the front label. The other one has a stronger soy aftertaste. I find the salad dressing to be as close as you can get to Best Foods or Hellman’s without the soy aftertaste that the regular has. It is dairy free, gluten free and egg free.

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A March 8, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I know these are old posts, but I thought I’d mention – it’s really easy to melt Vegan Gourmet Cheeses (and their Nacho Cheddar flavour is my favourite). Just warm up a bit of oil in a pot and then add very small cut up pieces of the “cheese”. Stir constantly until melted and add oil as needed for the consistency you want. I then add cooked pasta to it and it’s a fantastic substitute for macaroni and cheese! So…”it does melt!” – however, I haven’t figured out yet how to grate it and have it melt properly on pizza! :)

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mleo Reply:

Put it in the freezer until just firm not frozen and then grate. I do buy Daiya Vegan cheese even though I’m no longer vegan and I take it out of the package, spread it on a jelly roll sheet and freeze. This way it lasts months instead of weeks and it’s separated so I can use as much or as little. Since it freezes so beautifully I’m sure the Vegan Gourmet will firm up just fine.

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mleo March 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Earth Balance Organic MindfulMayo is so amazingly good that I find myself sticking a spoon in the jar like you would peanut butter and blopping it in my mouth. It’s better than any regular mayo I’ve ever tasted and no one knows the difference. Also, I’ve been vegan, vegetarian, octo-ovo and finally have decided that I’m all and none and everything in moderation. That said, there are some products that I will always prefer and love and consume with one of them being Soya Kaas cheese. Fabulous product and I agree that the Mozzarella cheeze fools even the snobs on pizza! Also Gimmie Lean vegan Sausage. Most Earth Balance products as well as Arrowhead products.

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Craig Barlow August 1, 2012 at 1:32 pm

This is an informative article taken from the Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead website written by Claire Georgiou. I trust this will confirm much of what is divulged on this thread. Keep in mind as you make the switch away from dairy to alternatives, read your labels, track sugars and understand the full range of benefits and down sides to each alternative. Soya or Soy milk has phyto-estrogens and can increase the testosterone development in young boys and men. Additionally, during and after childbirth a women’s hormone levels change dramatically and these properties in Soy can further the disruption. I hope this helps.

If you or anyone you know has questions about nutrition, health and wellness and a whole-food plant based approach to vibrant living, contact me at craigbarlow70@gmail.com. I am a culinary graduate, professional chef, health and wellness coach and nutrition expert.

Problems digesting dairy products can occur at any age from birth to old age and cause a wide range of symptoms. Here is a run through on the different types of dairy allergies and intolerances.

Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerant individuals have insufficient levels of lactase, the enzyme that metabolizes lactose, in their digestive system. In most cases this causes symptoms such as bloating, cramps, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can range from mild to severe, depending on how much lactase your body makes.

Culturally, some societies suffer with lactose intolerance more than others. African and Asian cultures are more likely to have less lactase production then northern Europeans who have higher levels, on average, of persistent lactase production.

You can develop lactose intolerance later in life because the amount of lactase our body produces naturally decreases as we age.

Left untreated, problems with malabsorption, such as iron deficiency and osteoporosis can occur on a longer term basis.

Tests to help diagnose lactose intolerance include: Enteroscopy, Lactose-hydrogen breath test, Lactose tolerance test, Stool pH.

A Dairy Allergy is a food allergy, an adverse immune reaction to one or more of the constituents of milk from any animal, the immune system produces an allergic antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody. The reaction occurs within minutes to 2 hours after eating dairy products. The most common allergy is to the protein from cow’s milk – alpha S1-casein. This milk-induced allergic reaction can involve anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Other symptoms can be hives, eczema, allergic conjunctivitis, nausea, pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing, asthma and runny nose. Tests for a dairy allergy are skin prick tests or blood allergen specific IgE [RAST] tests.

An interesting study showed that infants up to 2 years of age that were born via caesarean section have an increased risk of developing a dairy allergy. The maternal age of the mother (>35) also seem to show an increase prevalence in dairy allergies. Food allergies were affected by a wide range of factors that are hypothesized to play a role in the development of food allergy including allergic family history, obstetrical practices, pre- and post-natal environmental exposures.

A Dairy Intolerance is considered more of a sensitivity to the proteins found in dairy products. This may cause symptoms to occur immediately (few minutes), or the symptoms can occur a few hours and up to a few days later, this is called a delayed reaction. Dairy protein intolerance produces a non-IgE antibody and is not detected by allergy blood tests. Dairy protein intolerance produces a range of symptoms very similar to dairy allergy symptoms, but can also include blood and/or mucus in the stool. The symptoms can vary and will affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological systems, these can be bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, constant runny nose, blocked nose, constant cough, recurrent sinus infections and chest infections, skin conditions such as eczema, hives or acne, headaches and tiredness. Sufferers may only have one or several of these symptoms. Some people may only be slightly intolerant and may need to limit their intake while others may feel better when they avoid dairy 100%.

Some people may be intolerant to cow’s milk but they suffer no symptoms with goat and sheep’s dairy while some people may feel better with complete avoidance of all dairy containing foods.

To test a dairy intolerance it is best to eliminate for at least 2 weeks then you can reintroduce dairy and observe any symptoms that you may have suspected are caused from dairy. It is best to keep a diet diary to determine any reactions.

A Reboot is an excellent time to avoid any possible suspected food allergens including dairy products. You can use this time to observe any health changes or improvements; I highly recommend keeping a journal of any symptoms before, during and after a Reboot. Believe it or not people often forget about how they feel before and during a detox program. After the initial week following the Reboot you may re-introduce dairy, you can then journal any symptoms that you may experience during the re-introduction of dairy products.

Dairy Alternatives after the Reboot
• Butter and spreads – nut butter, hummus, tahini, babaganoush, avocado
• Milk – Almond, Soy, Oat, Rice, Hazelnut, Hemp, Quinoa or Coconut milks
• Yogurt – coconut yogurt

Non-dairy calcium rich food sources include: almonds, chickpeas, tofu, seaweeds, tahini (unhulled has a higher calcium content), sardines, salmon (with the bones), dried figs, rhubarb, perch, chinese cabbage, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables like kale.

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