I’ve always been a hardcore lover of cheese so even writing the title of this, realising it’s been over a year, slightly blows my mind. I gave up dairy around the middle of 2020 as I was trying to find ways to help my skin that didn’t require medication I was uncomfortable with taking. I tried this once before for around 3 months in 2016, focusing mostly on lactose-free products, with no real difference but if I’m being honest with myself – I didn’t try that hard.
I Feel Better In Myself
If I put aside my skin for a second on the whole I feel better for not eating dairy. One of the reasons I decided to go without it for a time wasn’t based just on hysterical Google searches but the fact that dairy, particularly in the mornings, always made me feel sick. I’ve also never liked the taste of cows milk and could never drink it on it’s own, the idea makes me shudder even now. I could drink a cup of coffee no problem but it had been years since I’d been able to have cereal that wasn’t dry without feeling rough. Ditching dairy enabled me to rekindle a love for Cheerios, Fruit & Fibre, Weetabix and more. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed these. Prior to this switch every breakfast I ate was something toasted. In the last 7-8 months once I realised vegan products didn’t make me feel ill all I’ve eaten each morning has involved milk or yoghurt in some way.
There’s Very Little I Miss
On an almost monthly basis new dairy free or vegan products seem to be released with big brands like Petit Filous, The Collective, Kit Kat and more jumping on the bandwagon. Many products I actually prefer to dairy. I never really liked dairy creme fraiche, finding the almost sweet aftertaste odd in savoury dishes, but Oatly’s answer to this product completely converted me. The fact that it has a long shelf life and is incredible in pasta dishes makes it a fridge staple for me. Some products are so good now that it feels like zero compromise and I’ve had dairy-eating friends unable to tell the difference. Examples include Elmlea’s plant based cream, Magnum ice creams, Ristorante’s vegan margarita and the newly discovered plant based passionfruit flavoured yoghurt from The Collective. Brands like HiP – Happiness In Plants and Doisy and Dam mean I can enjoy chocolate without feeling disappointed at all. If I had to dig deep the only things I miss are Solero Exotic ice creams and that it’s harder to find a good coffee when out and about – Cafe Nero remain my favourite high street chain for dairy free coffees.
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I Still Eat Cheese
After letting me skin run my life when I first developed acne in 2016 I vowed never to let that happen again. I still love cheese so I still eat cheese. I’ve tried two vegan ones and they just don’t cut it for me so instead I have it less frequently than I used to and I go for lactose-free options. Lactose free cheddar is easy to find, Lidl have very reasonably priced sliced edam and Tesco have an own brand mozzarella although sadly this is getting harder to find in stores. I’ve recently discovered Waitrose have lactose free Halloumi and Feta so rest assured I’ll be jumping on those very soon. I used to consume a family sized block of cheddar a week. Nowadays a small pack of lactose-free cheddar lasts me 2-3 weeks. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate cheese more for not having it every day. Basic things I previously got bored of like cheese toasties now feel like the most wonderful self-indulgent treat.
I Cheat Sometimes Because I’m Human
I make occasional exceptions for things like Sour Cream Pringles, Dairy Milk and the odd Solero Exotic and I don’t feel remotely guilty for it.
Quitting Dairy Sparked More Of An Interest In Food
I’ve never cared for cooking and used to easily get stuck into a rut with eating the same things. Cutting back on dairy gave me the opportunity to try so many new things to find new favourites. Some have been real hits and there have been a few misses but I actually get excited about seeing something I’ve read about on a supermarket shelf whereas before I felt a bit like a zombie filling my basket with the same old things. Reducing my cheese intake forced me to up my lunch game from the default cheese and ham sandwiches I’d unknowingly become sick of. I feel like quitting dairy has hugely diversified what I eat which has been really good for me.
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It Hasn’t Been As Expensive As I Thought
This is largely due to using cashback apps like Green Jinn. These have enabled me to get dairy free products either for free or hugely reduced. At the time of publishing I have 8 cartons of long life plant based milk in the cupboard which haven’t cost me a penny. I’ve been able to get free yoghurts, reduced vegan pizza, free plant based flapjacks and more all via cashback apps. It was a bit of a learning journey at first but I now know that some products are accidentally vegan so there’s no need to fork out for the “free from” section version. For example Tesco’s own brand dark chocolate digestive biscuits and Bakewell tarts don’t list dairy in the ingredient lists! I got into the habit of quickly scanning packaging labels. Lidl and Aldi now have vegan products which are reasonably priced, Asda also have some amazingly cheap desserts and free from products. I’ve found Home Bargains to be excellent for cheap snack bars which I see as dupes for Nak’d Bars and Eat Natural bars for half the branded price or less.
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I Can’t Confidently Say Quitting Dairy Helped Me
I honestly tried so many things around a similar time that I can’t declare with 100% conviction that ditching dairy was the answer. I know for a fact that cutting caffeine did me a world of good and I’ve experienced less cysts since. Although I can’t say for certain that doesn’t mean I intend to jump back on the dairy wagon. I don’t really feel like I’d have anything to gain from doing so. I will say my skin is consistently in the best place it has been for years. I still break out from time to time because hormones exist but this now feels easily manageable. I put this improvement down to a combination of changes. I don’t feel restricted by my decision to reduce dairy and for as long as I feel this way I’ll stay as I am.