The most difficult thing for vegans or people who have to dip and dodge many things dairy-based is finding reasonable substitutes. I have been in the latter camp for my entire life. Call it lactose intolerance, an allergy, or both. Regardless, it’s kind of a pain to have to be at work or a social function and there’s a Pizza Party and you’re stuck with no money, no way out, no other options, and you’re starving. It is in fact, my worst nightmare.
But I’m happy to notice that over the past few years, the biologically dairy-impaired are seeing products in both specialty and mass markets that satisfy cravings that usually require lots of cheese and animal milk. But one of the best things about dairy-free products is that it helps cut out fat and the lion’s share of cholesterol in your diet. If you’re looking to make some serious changes catering to those concerns, just wanna make some foodstyle changes slowly, or you’re like me, here are some of my favorite products that I think rival “the real thing.”
Beginning with a need to cater to Orthodox Jewish dietary practices, founder David Mintz is passionate about ensuring that those who can’t and choose not to consume dairy don’t miss out. I came to Tofutti by way of cream cheese because I love bagels and my Earth Balance butter doesn’t quite satisfy my craving for texture and richness sometimes. The biggest difference from regular cream cheese is most likely the change in density, but it doesn’t take away from taste. Most substitutes are about learning how to cook with and eat them in a way that works with your palette. Tofutti has other gems I’m just learning about such a frozen pizza and ravioli. The pricing is decent especially when compared to other non-dairy food choices on market and worth a shot.
Great for cooking: cheesecake, Italian dishes, an addendum to your nachos.
Decadent yet accessible, So Delicious is an amazing ice cream substitute offering a variety of flavors from your basic to your bourgie. There isn’t a better non-dairy ice cream in the market if you ask me and worth its overpriced tag. But stay away from more mainstream markets that offer the brand. The price is spiked because it’s not largely purchased in those stores and your local Whole Foods will usually have sales on it. Other natural food spots near you may carry even more of the variety at times so always consider shelling out the bucks for that business owner as well. Their yogurt comes in the same variety of soy, coconut, cashew, and almond-based options as well.
Great for cooking:
making sundaes and other prodigious dessert excesses that may cause tummy aches.
The Naturebox product perfect with So Delicious yogurt is their Blueberry Almond Bites. The vegan combination is the perfect snack that is both filling and light, energizing you for the last push in your work day or those afternoon/evening college courses. Yogurt and granola were my go-to sustenance as an undergraduate and great for taste and flavor. These bites are just as addictive as potato chips but much more versatile and better for you.
Naturebox will offer 50% off the 1st box! Use the promo code BGN50
(promotion is good for 50% off any of their 3 box sizes. Valid only on the 1st month’s box. New customers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.)
Enjoy Life Chocolate Bars (and more!)
The best thing about Enjoy Life Foods is that they’re products are absent of the eight most common allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. From sensitive to life-threatening reactions to any of these eight, their chocolate truly stands by their brand name. After looking high and low for a chocolate bar that wasn’t unreasonably priced and wouldn’t give me the instant sore throat/sniffles combo, I found Enjoy Life ricemilk chocolate, dark chocolate, and their version of a Nestle’s Crunch at Whole Foods for $1.99. Consider paying $3.00 for a vegan bar a quarter of its size and other vegan chocolate products as much as $10.00 a slab. The smallest slab imaginable! Trust me, you’re getting your money’s worth!
Great for cooking: a ganache-base, allergy-safe cookies, energy bars.
Daiya Dairy-Free Products (cream cheese, frozen pizza, cheese slices, shreds, and wedges)
Daiya, derived from the Sanskrit word Dayaa meaning “loving, kindness, and compassion” has more variety with their cream cheeses and actually gives you the holy grail of the oven pizza; two things I have longed for! I heard about Daiya from a local news blurb about a vegan pizzeria
here in Philadelphia, PA that uses their cheese to create quality fast food. In addition, it is has the best melt-like look and texture out of all of the dairy-free cheeses but you’ll taste the difference by feeling lighter and healthier.
Good for cooking: grilled cheese sandwiches and creative, off the wall panini’s.
Honorable mention to:
Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese & Mayonnaise
As far as taste, Follow Your Heart offers the best flavors in cheddar and mozzarella. It’s a great transition cheese-like product.
Best of luck with the wealth of options available to begin your dairy-free journey! Each site also offers recipes and store locations for their products.
Ashlee Blackwell is a sociocultural media writer from Philadelphia. She’s the founder of Philly Loves Women In Horror, a film screening event that showcases films by women horror filmmakers and Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site aimed at celebrating the experiences and achievements of Black women and women of color in the horror community. She spends her free time battling lactose intolerance, knitting, and listening to podcasts.