Ahhh dairy…one of my favorite memories from freshman year was driving to Creole Creamery and ordering a Cookie Monster sundae or a kid’s chocolate shake (the regular was just too big for me). Dairy is in everything, from soups to sandwiches to desserts. So when I started experiencing a slew of health problems and my doctors recommended I cut dairy out of my diet, I honestly did not know what I could eat. Sure, I had vegan and lactose intolerant friends, but I never had to watch what I ate at restaurants or in our dining hall, The Commons, before sophomore year. Over time, I have learned plenty of tips and tricks that have made the transition to a dairy-free diet far easier than I ever imagined.
- Create a go-to meal for whenever you are stressed, tired, or just don’t feel like cooking.
Your go-to meal can be as simple as a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich or something more complicated, like this recipe. This meal should be something you do not have to think about making. Stay away from the grilled cheese and make your go-to recipe instead!
- When in doubt, order the vegan option at restaurants.
Though you will be lacking in the meat department, vegan options are a surefire way to ensure your food will be dairy-free. If you can’t live without a certain non-vegan dish, see if they can leave off the cheese or cook it without milk.
- If you are on-campus and are sick of the Commons, Hillel is a fantastic dairy-free option.
Since Hillel is a certified-Kosher restaurant, their meals are cooked in a dairy-free kitchen. Even if you are not on the Kosher meal plan, take a trip down Broadway and order an entrée with 100% certainty that there is no dairy.
- Many dairy-free alternatives are still not available at stores like Walmart. Find a local store that does sell these alternatives.
Plan ahead—you may have to take a trip to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s for your dairy-free options and then go to Walmart or Target to buy your other groceries for much cheaper. But as dairy-free and vegan lifestyles become more and more mainstream, expect your dairy-free favorites to grace the shelves of every grocery store soon!
- It is okay to mess up!
Listen, sometimes I still cannot resist a good 3 Finger Combo at Cane’s (which has a surprising amount of dairy) or that kid’s chocolate milkshake at Creole Creamery. I feel healthier and more energetic than I ever have, but one milkshake every now and then won’t throw things completely off the rails.
Whether you are going dairy-free because of health reasons or you are transitioning to a completely vegan lifestyle, it is difficult to eliminate dairy from your diet. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you succeed as you become happier and healthier! What’s your favorite dairy-free recipe?