Is Vegan Dairy Free?

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There is a lot of confusion surrounding the terms vegan and dairy-free. Many people assume that they are the same. 

Although vegan and dairy-free diets have similarities, there are some key differences between the two diets. While vegan diets are dairy-free, dairy-free diets are not necessarily vegan.

Here, we explore and explain the differences between the two in much more detail.

Is vegan dairy free?

Yes, veganism is a dietary and lifestyle choice that abstains from all dairy products – including milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt – and any foods containing dairy. This is because dairy is a product that is derived from animals.

However, vegans can consume plant-based milk products, such as soy and almond milk, that do not contain any traces of dairy. 

Difference between vegan and dairy-free diet

Generally, people with health concerns such as cow milk allergy [1]National Library of Medicine: Cow Milk Allergy or lactose intolerance [2]National Library of Medicine: Lactose Intolerance opt dairy-free diet. But a vegan diet is chosen by people for environmental and ethical reasons.

Thus, someone who is dairy free is not necessarily vegan, but someone vegan is always dairy free.

Here is a table for you to have a quick look at the difference between vegan and dairy-free foods. 

Food itemsVegan dietDairy-free diet
HoneyNoYes
Dairy free Eggless cakeNoYes
Meat and poultryNoYes
Fish and other seafoodNo Yes

Foods that are both vegan and dairy-free

There are many foods that are both vegan and dairy-free. Here is a list of some common vegan and dairy-free foods:

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are naturally vegan and dairy free. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber you can safely enjoy on a vegan or dairy-free diet.

Grains

Grains such as wheat, rice, oats, and corn are all vegan and dairy-free. Grains such as wheat, rice, oats, and corn are all vegan and dairy-free. Additionally, grains provide essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and B vitamins, equal to dairy products.

Legumes

Beans, lentils, and tofu are all vegan and dairy-free options. Beans, lentils, and tofu are all vegan and dairy-free options. Legumes play a significant role in a vegan diet as they are packed with protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. 

Nuts and seeds

Most nuts and seeds are naturally vegan and dairy-free. Most nuts and seeds are naturally vegan and dairy-free. Most nuts and seeds are versatile ingredients that can be used in a variety of vegan and dairy-free recipes.

Tips to buy vegan dairy-free products

When you are picking your dairy-free vegan food from a grocery store, here are some of the things you should keep in mind:

1. Check the label

Check the ingredient list and nutrition facts label to ensure that the product is indeed vegan and dairy-free. Watch out for “animal-derived” products or genetically engineered milk proteins that may be lurking in your vegan dairy-free products.

2. Look for certifications

Foods that meet vegan standards will often be vegan certified [3]Vegan: Certified Vegan. These standards include no usage of animal-derived ingredients, animal-derived products, no animal testing, and no animal GMOs. Always look for a special logo on the packaging. This is a quick way to tell if a product is suitable for your diet.

Vegan dairy food alternatives

Giving up dairy foods on a vegan diet is challenging. However, with an increasing number of people opting for vegan foods, there is a wide array of vegan dairy food alternatives on the market.

Here are some of the dairy alternatives for people on a vegan diet:

1. Vegan cream cheese and sour cream

There are many vegan and dairy-free alternatives to cream cheese and sour cream on the market. These products are typically made from cashews.

2. Vegan cheese

Vegan-dairy-free cheese can be made from a variety of plant-based ingredients, such as coconut, cashews, almonds, and soy. These products often have a similar taste and texture to dairy cheese.

3. Vegan butter

Vegan-dairy-free butter replacements are typically made from plant-based oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, cashew oil, or pea protein. Vegan butters are healthy alternatives to dairy butter, as they are lower in saturated fat. 

4. Vegan ice cream

There are many vegan-dairy-free ice cream brands on the market. These products are typically made from plant-based milk.

Vegan dairy milk alternatives

Milk is one of the primary dairy products given up by people moving on to a vegan diet. Many plant-based milk alternatives are available for people who choose to go vegan.

Here is a list of vegan dairy milk alternatives:

1. Soy milk

Soy milk is a vegan and dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk. It is made with soybeans.

Soy milk is a good protein source [4]PubMed: Soy: a complete source of protein and contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Additionally, soy milk is low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol.

2. Almond milk

Almond milk is a vegan and dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk made from almonds. It is a good source of calcium and vitamin E and contains no cholesterol or saturated fat.

3. Coconut milk

Coconut milk is a vegan and dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk made with coconut cream and water. Coconut milk is high in saturated fat [5]National Library of Medicine: Impact of a Traditional Dietary Supplement with Coconut Milk and Soya Milk on the Lipid Profile in Normal Free Living Subjects but contains no cholesterol or lactose.

4. Cashew milk

Cashew milk is a delicious vegan and dairy-free milk alternative. It is made by blending cashews with water and then straining the mixture to remove any chunks. Cashew milk is a good choice for those looking for a creamy and rich dairy-free alternative.

5. Rice milk

Rice milk is made from milled rice and is naturally dairy-free. It is a good alternative for those who are allergic to soy and nuts or have lactose intolerance. Rice milk is also a good choice for those looking for a dairy-free alternative low in calories.

Vegan products that are not dairy-free

Most vegan products are also dairy-free. However, some vegan products are lactose-free but not dairy free. It is because some vegan brands may use bio-identical milk proteins to mimic the taste and texture of dairy products.

Some of those brands include

  • Betterland Foods
  • Bored Cow
  • Brave Robot Dairy-free Ice cream
  • Bold Cultr
  • CO2COA 

Conclusion

When you are on a vegan diet, look for dairy alternatives that are made from plant-based ingredients. These products often have a similar taste and texture to dairy.

There are many vegan-dairy-free products on the market. However, some vegan brands may use a small amount of dairy-based ingredients. So, it is essential to check the label before purchasing any product.

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