Dairy Substitutes for Vegan Diet and Casein Free Diet

What are your options for dairy products if you have decided to adopt a vegan diet, or if your doctor has recommended you avoid dairy foods such as eggs, milk and cheese?  Whereas ten years ago, this may have meant doing without, luckily we now have numerous choices.  There are also countless books and internet resources to guide us. 

Dairy Substitutes.  The "cheddar" Almond Cheese has milk casein, and is therefore not vegan or casein free.  Read your labels!  Personal Photo.
Dairy Substitutes. The "cheddar" Almond Cheese has milk casein, and is therefore not vegan or casein free. Read your labels! Personal Photo.

I had recently explored vegetarian and vegan cooking. I was mainly looking to decrease animal protein in my diet, and avoid combining animal protein with starchy foods. My naturopath was in favor of this change. Decreasing my meat protein could be accomplished with vegetarian meals. I did not necessarily need to avoid eggs, milk or cheese. Subsequently however, my light and color therapist suggested I avoid milk and cheese. Yikes! I’m not a milk drinker, but to avoid milk in cooking would be challenging. And give up cheese? Who doesn’t like cheese?!

The first think I did was visit CassidyS’s hubs. She writes gluten and casein free recipes. I became a follower because as a pediatric occupational therapist, I have an interest in autism, and many families of autistic children have adopted the gluten free-casein free diet. Armed with CassidyS’s hubs on cream of chicken soup substitute, ranch dressing, and Fettuccine Alfredo, I made a shopping list.

I have also found some good tips in Donna Gates’ The Body Ecology Diet, Renee Loux Underkoffler’s Living Cuisine, and Joanne Saltzman’s Romancing the Bean.

Strawberry Shake with Almond Milk

Almond Milk Substitute.  Personal Photo.
Almond Milk Substitute. Personal Photo.

Milk Substitutes

There are multiple options available for milk substitutes, many of them at large grocery chains, and a sizeable selection available at health food stores. My nearest military commissary has soy milk. Costco has rice milk. Sun Harvest has both of these, as well as hemp milk and almond milk. Sun Harvest has plain, vanilla, and chocolate available in several of the milk substitute options.

As I said, I’m not a milk drinker, so I can’t speak for their drinkability. I avoid the soy milk, as there are mixed reviews on the benefits of soy, particularly for those of us with thyroid disease.

I have used rice milk and almond milk for cooking. My biggest complaint is that there is no evaporated milk option. So for some recipes where I would ordinarily use evaporated milk, the milk substitutes are obviously thin. I have made milk gravy, tomato gravy, and salmon stew with almond or rice milk. I used coconut milk once for salmon stew, but it was too sweet, even diluted half and half with another substitute.

You can make your own nut milks by blending nuts with water. Saltzman recommends ¼ cup of nuts with 2 cups of water for thin milk. Underkoffler recommends 1 cup of soaked almonds with 4 cups filtered water and a pinch of sea salt. Underkoffler also has a recipe for cantaloupe milk, made with the seeds and flesh of the cantaloupe.

CassidyS uses SO Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer in her Alfredo. I was able to find this at Sun Harvest.

Nut Cheese Substitute

Cheese Substitutes.  The "cheddar" Almond Cheese has milk casein, and is therefore not vegan or casein free.  Personal Photo.
Cheese Substitutes. The "cheddar" Almond Cheese has milk casein, and is therefore not vegan or casein free. Personal Photo.

Cheese Substitutes

CassidyS uses Tofuitti cream cheese and Tofuitti Mozzarella cheese slices in her Alfredo sauce. I was able to find both of these at Sun Harvest. I also found Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese substitutes as block cheeses. Turns out the Almond "Cheddar" Cheese has milk casein.  CassidyS uses Tofuitti American cheese slices in her Mac-n-cheese.

Underkoffler has seven nut and seed cheese recipes in her book. The various cheeses are made from walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, almonds, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Some of the cheeses are made from a single nut or seed, and some in combinations, through a fermentation process with miso or Rejuvelac.

I have made kefir with The Body Ecology Diet culture starter and almond milk. A fine curd forms on the top, like a soft cottage cheese, suitable for spreads or dressings.

Butter Substitutes


CassidyS prefers Smart Balance Light, with Flax Oil, butter substitute for her cream of chicken soup substitute.  I was unable to find this, and bought Earth Balance, which is made from a blend of oils and soy. 

Egg Free Mayo, Soft Tofu for Egg Substitute, Butter Substitute.  Personal Photo.
Egg Free Mayo, Soft Tofu for Egg Substitute, Butter Substitute. Personal Photo.

Egg Substitutes

Soft tofu is often used as a scrambled egg substitute, and in fritattas and egg salad. Ener-G is a commercially available egg substitute for egg dishes and in recipes. Tofu can be used in some recipes.

Bananas or applesauce can be substituted for eggs for baked goods. Nutritional yeast and milled flax are used in recipes such as vegan meatloaf, as a binder.

Donna Gates has an egg-free mayonnaise recipe, made with almonds and flax oil or pumpkin seed oil. CassidyS prefers Follow Your Heart Vegenaise for her ranch dressing. I found two varieties at Sun Harvest.

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26 comments

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

A big THANK YOU for this hub!!! Rated up and useful!


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks so much Lady G. I really went back and forth- almost sat this one out.


IrisJane profile image

IrisJane 6 years ago

Awesome! I am always looking for delicious substitutes for dairy products. Some of my favorite finds include Daiya Vegan Cheese and So Delicious coconut milk beverages, kefir, and ice cream.


barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 6 years ago from Queensland Australia

Lost of tasty stuff onthis page now what do i have in the fridge ?


CassidyS profile image

CassidyS 6 years ago from OK


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

I really like this hub, it is informative and I always like you sharing about vegetarian and substitute health foods, I am just getting hungrier, Maita


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

What is the Icecream substitute. We are going grocery shopping tomorrow and would like to know what to get.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for the tip about the Daiya vegan cheese IrisJane. Cassidy also uses So Delicious. What ice cream substitutes do you buy? Lady Guinevere (below) also wants to know.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for the visit barry!

CassidyS your comment didn’t show! Thanks for the email about the Almond cheese having milk casein. What ice cream do you buy?


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks pdh. You are always so supportive. Looks like I’m gravitating toward a ‘mini niche’.

Lady G, I’ve not bought any of the ice cream yet. We have a Donvier ice cream maker, and I’m waiting for CassidyS’s evaporated milk substitute recipe. Did you contact IrisJane or CassidyS.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 6 years ago from West Virginia

Not yet. I will check with her in a bit. Thanks! I just bought some ice pop molds from AVON and am going to be making my own frozen pops to cool us off during the heat we are getting throughout the summer. I know everyone think they are for kids, but I have to do what I have to do and this is easier for us to do and I will know what I put in them.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Lady G, maybe we can entice Cassidy to write us a hub on fruit and fruit/cream pops.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

As you can see, can't get enough of your hubs. I have been a vegetarian for a long time and appreciate information like this. Keep these topics coming! Rating up and awesome.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks vocalcoach. For a meat eater, I've got quite a collection of vegetarian hubs now!


freehans profile image

freehans 5 years ago from Philippines

Thanks for this informative hub. A big thumbs up.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks so much freehans!


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

Lots of good stuff here


craftybegonia profile image

craftybegonia 5 years ago from Southwestern, United States

Nice hub, great info. Thanks for sharing!


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks Fiddleman and craftybegonia.


chechetka profile image

chechetka 5 years ago from London, UK

I much prefer soya milk to almond milk:) anyway, great hub, thanks for all the information.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for visiting chechetka. Please check out this video with Sally Fallon on the effects of soy, before continuing your love affair:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcJecu15yaM


mikeq107 5 years ago

Thank you great hub and ref`s

Started eating this way about 4 months ago..love your reserch!!!

Mike :0)


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 5 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks mikeq for visiting. Good luck with your vegan lifestyle. I'm still getting there.


Pdxrecycler profile image

Pdxrecycler 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon

This is a great article for anyone just starting out with the vegan diet! It's also an excellent primer for anyone trying to cook for a vegan guest.


btulloh098 profile image

btulloh098 3 years ago from NC

Thanks for this! I recently did a vegan substitute hub and it's interesting to see the different takes on the same subject! Voted up! Also, I worked with children with autism for a long time, so it's interesting to hear about diet changes relieving severity of symptoms (I have read). Thanks!


the rawspirit profile image

the rawspirit 15 months ago from Hutchinson Island, FL - Aruba - Carlsbad, CA - Myrtle Beach, SC - Gilbert, AZ

I like that you mention using rejuvelac in your cheese recipes. I love it.

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