Being dairy-free is a natural and healthy choice. All the nutrients in milk are easily found in plant-based foods that will make you thrive and you won’t miss a thing!
Many of us have been brought up with the idea that we need milk for calcium but it’s nothing more than a successful ploy by the dairy industry. They provide ‘educational’ materials to schools, lobby the Government, organise lectures for healthcare professionals, sponsor research and pay millions for advertising to condition people to think they ‘need’ milk. Yet no one needs milk after weaning and no one needs the milk of another species. There’s nothing in cow’s milk that you can’t find in plants, just minus all the bad fats, hormones and gluey protein.
Calcium is an important mineral that we need for healthy bones, muscle function, numerous metabolic reactions and hormonal balance - about 700 mg per day (adults), children a bit less, adolescents and lactating women slightly more. And we can get more than enough from non-dairy sources as long as we eat a varied and reasonably healthy diet.
The National Osteoporosis Society agree:
“If you don’t eat dairy products, you will need to include lots of other calcium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, almonds, sesame seeds, dried fruit, pulses, fortified soya drinks and soya protein (tofu) in your diet. A vegetarian diet is not a risk factor for osteoporosis and vegetarians and vegans do not appear to have poorer bone health than the rest of the population.”
Get your calcium from:
- Nuts and seeds: almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste used in many recipes)
- Pulses: peas, beans, lentils, soya and calcium-set tofu
- Green leafy vegetables: broccoli, kale, spring greens, cabbage, watercress, parsley
- Dried fruit: figs, apricots
- Fortified products: plant milks (soya, almond, oat, hemp, rice, coconut), soya yogurts
Some people believe that dairy products are a good source of protein. It’s true that milk contains some protein but it’s certainly not good for us! One type of protein found in milk – casein – is notoriously hard to digest and it’s so tough that it can be used to make furniture glue. Scientists also discovered that it encourages prostate cancer growth! And other milk proteins – whey proteins – are no miracle either. Whey protein powders have been repeatedly linked to acne.
Milk protein can also cause milk allergy and intestinal bleeding in babies – it’s the most common cause of infant anaemia.
There’s an abundance of protein in plant-based diets and it comes in a much healthier package! Among vegan protein heroes are: pulses (beans, lentils, soya, peas, chickpeas), nuts, seeds, wholegrains and ready-made products such as mock meats, hummus, falafel, soya yoghurts and more!