In this blog post we're going to look at reasons for being dairy-free, such as intolerance or choice to be vegan, and how to get the protein, calcium and optimum nutrition you need, (in a delicious way of course!) I'm writing this post because the main concern is often...how will you get your nourishment without dairy? I'd like to introduce here a selection of dairy-free super foods that can do just that!
It may be because you cannot tolerate the protein component of milk or in some cases it is the milk sugar (called lactose) that your body cannot digest. A dairy-free life includes no cows’ milk or any other animal milks such as sheeps, goats and buffalo etc. Dairy is made into other obvious products such as cheese and yogurt that are avoidable, however dairy also occurs in many other foods, as an ingredient, appearing as lactose or milk derived ingredients.
ANY food can contain milk so it is essential to read the full ingredients’ list to check on all manufactured products. The case for dairy intolerance seems to be on the up, and symptoms can be anything from mild to severe. Giving up dairy can be done with the support and advice of your GP, however the greater task of working out what and what not to eat lies with you. These days manufacturers must declare allergens on the back of pack so this makes it a whole lot easier to know whats inside. Thankgoodness!
So how much of this is about genetics?
The Genetics Home Reference Guide says "Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose intolerance in adulthood is most prevalent in people of East Asian descent, affecting more than 90 percent of adults in some of these communities. Lactose intolerance is also very common in people of West African, Arab, Jewish, Greek, and Italian descent. The prevalence of lactose intolerance is lowest in populations with a long history of dependence on unfermented milk products as an important food source. For example, only about 5 percent of people of Northern European descent are lactose intolerant" . http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance
What can i eat instead?
So one of the main challenges for those who are living dairy-free is what foods can i substitute for milk, yogurt, butter and cheese, and how can i enjoy my favourite foods dairy-free?
Well there are plenty of "plant" milks out there on the market, ranging from Coconut, Soya, Almond, Oat and Hemp. You can buy them off the shelf or you can keep the raw ingredients in the kitchen and make your own.
For example Hemp milk can be made from blending Hulled Hemp Seeds with water. It's worth trying all the different varieties to get the taste and thickness that suits you. If you are looking for yogurt, butter and cheese non-dairy alternatives then again there are lots of choices out there, however many vegans who practice a non dairy (and in fact non meat products) lifestyle would look to alternatives such as nut butters, tofu and follow recipes to create protein rich burgers out of seeds and nuts and healthy snacks that are dairy-free.
Initially it does take a bit of creativity and inspiration so we've put together some delicious dairy-free nutrient rich recipes to get you started (see below).
Your reason for being dairy-free may be because you have chosen to become a Vegan, which basically means you are eliminating all animal products from your diet (and indeed life). Going Vegan is becoming a popular lifestyle choice thesedays and many people are going this way to improve their health, practice respect for animals, and ultimately place less strain on the planet's resources. Being Vegan was once only associated with being an animal rights activist, religious practice or extreme health conciousness, however there are now 150,000 full-time Vegans in the UK - so about one in 400 - according to the Vegan Society, and many people are choosing to go Vegan for a shorter period of time for the benefits of body, mind and soul, to demonstrate compassionate to animals and place less strain on the earth's resources.
The main nutritional concerns when we set out down the road of the dairy-free life is the two biggies: How we going to get all the PROTEIN & CALCIUM that we need?
So first off how much do we actually need?
CALCIUM DAILY NEEDS:
Breast-Feeding Mothers: 1250mg/day
PROTEIN DAILY NEEDS:
Breast-Feeding Mothers: 71g/day
The team at Indigo Herbs is always on the look out for Protein & Calcium rich food ingredients that can be eaten as part of a dairy-free / vegan diet, to make sure the dairy-free & Vegans amongst us can still get optimum amounts of these essential nutrients and micro-nutrients. I had a look at some of the best contenders from The Indigo Herbs Super Nutrition Range, and many of these ingredients can be enjoyed daily.
|FOOD||CALCIUM/ 100g||% of Recommended Daily Amount in 10g||PROTEIN/100g||% of Recommended Daily Amount in 10g|
|Whole Almonds||264mg||10g=2.6% RDA||21.1g||10g=3.7% RDA|
|Raw Almond Butter||264mg||10g=2.6% RDA||23.5g||10g=4.1% RDA|
|Baobab Superfood Powder||339mg||10g=3.3% RDA|
|Barleygrass Superfood Powder||330mg||10g=3.3% RDA||24g||10g=4.2% RDA|
|Raw Cacao Powder||1437mg||10g=14% RDA||21.5g||10g=3.8% RDA|
|Chlorella Superfood Powder||330mg||10g=3.3% RDA||61.3g||10g=10% RDA|
|Maca Superfood Powder||258mg||10g=2.5% RDA||10g||10g=1.7% RDA|
|Moringa Superfood Powder||1610mg||10g=16% RDA||28.9g||10g=5.1% RDA|
|Spirulina Superfood Powder||270mg||10g=2.7% RDA||56.6g||10g=10.1% RDA|
|Sesame Seeds||975mg||10g=9.7% RDA||17g||10g=3% RDA|
|Raw White Sesame Tahini||420mg||10g=4.2% RDA||18g||10g=3.2% RDA|
The Nut and Seed Butters can be enjoyed in multiple ways, as ingredients in smoothies, cakes, energy balls, curries, and of course on toast or crackers.The superfood powders can be added to a breakfast smoothie. There are some lovely recipes in our recipe collection, and any of these superfood powders can be added to boost both Protein and Calcium intake levels.
Nuts and Seeds can be sprinkled across muesli, porridge, salads, soups and curries.
Most of all going dairy-free (or living dairy-free) can be exciting and fun, and open up a whole new group of delicious plant based food ingredients that you may not have otherwise enjoyed! There are so many super healthy alternatives and its an opportunity to feel better, focus on wellbeing, get inspired and be creative. Variety is indeed the factor that we require to be happy, healthy and well so try out the possibilities and find out what works for you.