Nutrition

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 Question

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

 

Calcium-Rich Foods Poster

Calcium-Rich Foods Poster

Get our calcium-rich foods poster as a reminder of all the great plant sources of calcium!

It has an extendable piece with sample portion sizes and calcium amounts.

Healthy Bones

Our bones need good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to be strong and healthy. Milk is not just unnecessary for healthy bones - studies show that high intakes can even increase the risk of bone fracture!

Calcium is important to bones health and easy to get from the foods listed above. Another nutrient crucial to maintaining healthy bones is vitamin D. It’s produced in your skin when exposed to the sun in the summer but during the winter months (or if you always protect your skin from sunlight), you might need to take a supplement regardless of your diet (this advice applies to everyone in the UK).

However, we need much more than calcium and vitamin D to produce strong bones. Nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, copper, boron, iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, B group, beta carotene (vitamin A) are also necessary but don’t panic! Fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, pulses and wholegrains are the best sources.

One last thing - bone adapts to the weight and pressure applied to it and it needs this stimulation to stay strong. There’s no need to sweat your socks off but moderate, weight-bearing exercise is a must. This means walking, carrying shopping bags, dancing, gardening, ball games, jogging, yoga, weight-lifting exercise and so on.

More on healthy bones here.

Protein Fiction

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!

Health Benefits

of Being Dairy-Free

Cow’s Milk

vs Plant Milks

FAQs — Health & Nutrition

What are the best calcium sources? What's important for bone health? And are there hormones in milk?

Related Resources

Building Bones for Life — Guide

Building Bones for Life — Guide

This guide provides all the theoretical and practical information you need to know about on healthy bones.

Everyone's Going Dairy-Free — Guide

Everyone's Going Dairy-Free — Guide

All you need to know about going dairy-free, including how to shop and cook!

Boning up on Calcium — Factsheet

Boning up on Calcium — Factsheet

All you need to know about calcium and where to get it!

Going Dairy-Free Super Pack

Going Dairy-Free Super Pack

Going dairy-free has never been so easy! This colourful pack is bursting with juicy information, tips and recipes and will help you ditch dairy for good.

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