Dairy Free Eating

While many people are quite comfortable including milk products in their diets, it is not uncommon for some people to develop an allergy or intolerance to milk. These allergies and intolerances are primarily to cow’s milk and can take a number of different forms.

Lactose intolerance is a term for people who have problems digesting lactose, a carbohydrate found in milk. Symptoms can include abdominal bloating, gas, discomfort, cramping, diarrhoea and/or constipation. While lactose is also found in sheep and goat’s milk, those with a lactose intolerance are often able to tolerate small amounts of these foods.

Others may be intolerant to casein, a protein found in milk. Casein is 300 times higher in cow’s milk than in human milk and can be hard to digest. Those with a protein allergy/intolerance may also find it difficult to tolerate sheep, buffalo and goat’s milk products.

Ingredients containing lactose

  • Lactose
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Yoghurt
  • Whey
  • Milk solids
  • Non-fat milk products
  • Skim milk powder

Ingredients containing milk proteins

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Yoghurt
  • Whey
  • Milk solids
  • Non-fat milk products
  • Skim milk powder
  • Lactoglobulin
  • Casein
  • Lactalbumin
  • Sodium caseinate

Tips on Avoiding Milk Products

  • Most importantly read labels, as milk and milk products crop up in an unusual array of foods – the first few times you do your shopping will take a bit longer, but after that you will have a better idea of what foods to eat.
  • When eating out, check ingredients with chefs. It can be useful to phone ahead and notify the restaurant of dietary requirements.
  • Lactose and milk intolerances are becoming increasingly common, so most larger supermarkets stock a good range of dairy free products, or try your local health food shop.
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressings traditionally are made without milk, but many preprepared ones now do, so read labels carefully.
Foods to Exclude Alternatives
Milk Soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, almond milk, you may be able to use sheep or goat’s milk. It is a good idea to regularly
change the type of “milk” you are using
Butter and some spreads/margarines Olive oil, tahini, avocado, hummous, nut butters (eg peanut,cashew), soy “cream cheese”
Buttermilk/butterfat Ghee, coconut milk/cream, copha
Yoghurt/dairy desserts Tofu/soy yoghurt, you may be able to eat sheep or goat’s milk yoghurt as well. Try a few different brands as they can taste quite different.
Cream Coconut cream, soy cream, tofu yoghurts
Cheese Goat and sheep’s milk cheeses, goat’s milk fetta (check the label), soy or tofu “cheeses”
Ice-cream Fruit sorbets, non dairy gelati, vitari, tofu “ice-cream”, frozen bananas, frozen soy desserts, make ice blocks out of fresh juice
Cakes & biscuits: many are made with butter and milk Check ingredient lists to find dairy free alternatives; manyhealth food shops sell vegan cakes and biscuits; in many cake recipes you
can replace the butter with oil
Some ready-made white sauces Make a fresh sauce using corn or rice flour and soy milk, or usea tomato-based sauce
Packaged soups Fresh soups thickened with potato or pulses such as lentils or “soup mix”
Cooked & pre-prepared foods: for example cream based pasta sauces Again check ingredient lists
Batter (pancakes) Make your own with flour, eggs and soy milk
Milk Chocolate Look for high cocoa dark chocolate, many of which are dairy free. Most 70% cocoa chocolates are dairy free and they have a rich, velvety
flavour, eg Lindt 70% is available from most supermarkets. Some soy chocolates are also available; dairy free carob bars.
Pizza Most pizza is made with lots and lots and lots of cheese! But most places are flexible and will make something without cheese. Many
also make a potato and herb pizza which is dairy free. If this just doesn’t sound right to you then try other types of restaurant/takeaway,
eg Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese.


Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, with 99% of it stored in bones and teeth. While milk and other dairy products are sources
of calcium, it is possible to obtain enough calcium daily from other food sources, in particular dark green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds.It
is also important to look at those factors that affect calcium absorption and take up by bones, these include:

  • caffeine, alcohol and smoking which increase the loss of calcium in urine
  • regular weight bearing exercise which improves the uptake of calcium by the bones.
  • sunlight exposure which increases the amount of vitamin D which helps the body absorb and retain calcium

Non-Dairy Calcium Sources

Food Ca
Eggs 56
– Whitebait 860
– Sardines (canned) 550
– Salmon (canned) 100
– Unhulled sesame seeds 1160
– Hulled sesame seeds 110
– Sunflower seeds 98
– Pumpkin seeds 52
– Linseeds 271
– Parsley 260
– Rocket 185
– Watercress 190
– Spinach 135
– Broccoli 125
Legumes (cooked) 95
– Mung bean sprouts 260
Soy products
– Soy milk (varies with brand) 100
– Tofu 170
– Almonds 250
– Brazils 180
– Macadamias 50
– Hazelnuts 45
– Peanuts and cashews 35
– Dried figs 200
– Orange juice 60
Grains & cereal
– Muesli (varies with brand) 200
– Bread 100
– Oatmeal 55
– Brown rice 33