Have you been considering ditching the dairy? Many people contemplate quitting dairy, but they don’t always know how or even why they need to.

For me, quitting dairy was a choice between constantly being uncomfortable, bloated, covered in rashes, and all around nauseous or finally enjoying my life again.

That may sound dramatic, but I was at the point when I wasn’t enjoying my life anymore. I would eat dairy and immediately just want to curl up and feel miserable.

Everybody experiences dairy differently. I found out I had a dairy allergy in my teens that was probably there since I was born. I always remembered being sick after eating dairy and I was terrible as a baby. As the years went on though, my problems with dairy just kept getting worse.

If you experience anything like I did or even if it’s not as extreme, I am sure you have considered quitting dairy.

You may not even have a problem digesting dairy and just want to quit it for health, ethical, or environmental reasons.

Whatever your reasons are, it’s possible to finally ditch the dairy.

Read here to see if you have a dairy intolerance. 

Why you should think about quitting dairy

Quitting dairy for good

First, we are going to go over why you should get the dairy out of your life.

The obvious first place to start is that it isn’t meant for us. Whether you are eating cow, goat, sheep, buffalo, you name it, that milk wasn’t meant for us.

Milk from another animal was never made for us to consume. The most common milk that we drink is from cows. Once a cow gives birth, in order for us to consume its milk, their baby calf is taken away. We then consume this milk that was meant for a baby cow. Cows are big and they mature fast. Cow’s milk is full of hormones that nourish a fastly growing baby cow. When you drink that, you are taking in those hormones meant to grow a calf super quickly. Imagine what that is doing to your body.

Cows are not raised on farms anymore. They are raised in factories. They are given hormones to make them produce more milk than is natural. This causes mastitis, an infection that produces pus which is then treated with antibiotics. All of this is in the milk you drink.

Cows raised to produce dairy are inhumanely treated. They are artificially inseminated and kept pregnant throughout their lifetimes. Their babies are taken from them at birth and are never given a chance to bond. They are kept indoors in factory-like conditions rather than spending their lives outdoors.

Beyond the ethical reasons not to drink milk, there are tons of health reasons as well.

One of the biggest myths out there is that milk is great for your bones. This could be farther from the truth. Milk is high in calcium, but studies have never found a concrete link between calcium from milk and bone health. Recent studies are suggesting that vitamin D has a bigger role in bone health than calcium.

Where did milk get it’s great reputation for bone health then? By studies conducted by the dairy industry. Independent studies have shown the opposite is true of milk. It isn’t good for your health and is detrimental to bone health.

Countries that drink less dairy have lower risks of bone loss and osteoporosis than countries that drink the most milk.

Milk is terrible for your health. After considering that it was never made for human use, higher intakes of dairy products have been linked to several cancers including prostate, breast, and ovarian cancers.

Dairy has been connected to higher rates of heart disease. It is high in cholesterol and saturated fat, both components of raising the risk of heart disease.

Higher intakes of dairy increase levels of insulin-like growth factor in the body, which is a known cancer promoter.

Benefits of going dairy free

If the above didn’t convince you that ditching dairy because of the health ramifications, here are some bonuses that come with ditching dairy.

Your bloating is going to go away.

You will likely lose weight by cutting out the unnecessary calories and added fat.

You will have less congestion. Dairy causes mucus formation in many people.

You will have clearer skin. All those added hormones are driving your skin crazy.

You will have more energy. Your body doesn’t have to produce energy as an immune response to dairy.

How to quit dairy for good

It’s hard to quit dairy. If it was easy we would all have done it years ago. Dairy is in everything these days from the food we buy at the store to when we eat at restaurants.

Luckily, today there are so many more options available to replace dairy with and more restaurants are getting on board with the rising demand for dairy-free dishes.

Replacing dairy milk is one of the easiest things you can do. There are so many great choices from almond, rice, coconut, cashew, and soy. They taste better than dairy milk and sub in so easily.

Week One:

Try replacing your milk this week with an alternative option. By the end of the week, you won’t be missing it at all and your improved health will make you want to stick with your new found milk alternative.

A good one to start out with is almond milk. It has the mildest flavor and its texture is similar to dairy milk. You can add almond milk to any dish and not notice a difference in taste. I use almond milk most often when I cook or in smoothies and coffee.

My favorite is unsweetened plain, but if you like vanilla or chocolate, try these flavors. They are especially good for kids making the transition. I tend to use Almond Breeze as my milk brand of choice, but there are plenty of others to try as well.

Week Two:

Start reading product labels and see if you can go the whole week without buying and cooking with a food that has dairy in its ingredients list.

Some foods that I had to look more closely at were chocolate, dressings, soups, crackers, and packaged dinners.

Dairy can be a sneaky little guy to identify on food labels. Common ways that dairy makes its way into your food is whey, casein, caseinates, lactose, buttermilk, and butterfat. These are the most common ones I see.

Check out this site for a comprehensive list of milk ingredients.

Week Three:

This is the big one and usually the hardest. Try giving up cheese this week.

You will be surprised just how much you don’t need that cheese in your meals. You will be able to enjoy different tastes and textures instead of relying on cheese as the main flavor component.

There are many different cheese substitutes on the market shelves today. It will take some getting used to and trying different brands and types to find the one that works for you.

I prefer nut cheeses myself and I will make them in my kitchen so I always have control over what ingredients I use and can get the flavor just right for me.

Try making a meal with a dairy-free cheese. My favorite for first timers is lasagna. I use kite hill ricotta instead of dairy ricotta. It tastes really good and has the same texture. If you cant find kite hill (I think only whole foods carries it), you can make your own really easily.

Try this recipe from the Minimalist Baker.  If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can skip it and it still tastes amazing.

Week Four:

By this point, you are mostly off the dairy. Go through your diet and see where it is still lingering around. Maybe it’s butter or hidden in your favorite salad dressing.

Explore your favorite grocery store for alternatives or find a cookbook that focuses on dairy free recipes. Have fun trying things you may never have considered before.

My favorite cookbook for great dairy free recipes is Oh She Glows Cookbook.

Have some fun with cooking. Chances are you have been using dairy as an ingredient in most of your recipes for so long that your taste buds have gone a little sleepy. Wake them up with new tastes and textures.

After these four weeks take stock of how you are feeling. Does quitting dairy make you feel healthier and more energetic? Do you just feel over all better and happier? Make sure to check in with your body. Quitting dairy may be just what it needed.