Here are some of our favourite dairy-free alternatives. As with all foods, everyone's taste preferences are different, so we recommend trying a few to see what strikes your fancy!
Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk — most supermarkets stock a range of calcium-rich, plant-based milks, many of which go perfectly in your coffee, tea, cereal, or creamy recipes; you may like to try a few to find what suits you best. Some brands even have chocolate, vanilla and coffee flavoured milks. Our top picks are Bonsoy, Vitasoy, Califia Farms, Milk Lab, Nutty Bruce and Pure Harvest. Find them in the long-life milk section, and sometimes in the refrigerated section at Coles, Woolworths and some independent supermarkets.
As with dairy-free milk, dairy-free cheese products vary in taste among brands, but whether you like cheddar, mozzarella, Red Leicester or cream cheese you'll find one to your liking. For a mild but reliable 'all-rounder' cheesy substitute, you can find BioCheese shreds and blocks at a wide range of supermarkets, including Coles and Woolworths. Also try the Sheese range, including cheddar, cream cheese, mozzarella shreds and Red Leicester slices, available at Woolworths. Tofutti makes a fantastic cream cheese, Oliana slices melt perfectly for a good toastie, YAY Foods feta is virtually indistinguishable from its dairy counterpart, and Melbourne-based Botanical Cuisine uses live cultures to achieve a lovely sharpness with their high-end cashew-based spreads. These brands, along with others like Vegusto, Hello Friend Foods and Made with Plants can be found at various supermarkets and specialty stores across Australia.
A lot of dark chocolate is free from dairy, such as Whittaker's Dark and Lindt 70% Cocoa and higher. Supermarkets also stock Sweet William dairy-free blocks, bars and cooking pieces in white and 'milk' chocolate (sometimes optimistically in the 'health' food aisle). Often in that section you'll also find LEDA's dairy-free chocolate biscuits and mint slices. ALDI stocks the delicious Moser Roth dark chocolate range in a variety of flavours. And in some independent supermarkets, as well as health, wholefood or vegan specialty stores you can find Vego bars (similar tasting to Toblerone), along with particularly decadent chocolate treats from Loving Earth, PANA, and PICO. The Australian company Nestar makes incredible dark chocolate covered nuts and berries and GoMaxGo provides the mouth-watering dairy-free versions of all your favourite chocolate bar classics.
Margarine and butter
You can't go wrong with Bio Buttery, Nuttelex or Naturli (previously Funky Fields) spreads for your toast or in your cooking. They look like margarine but have a rich, buttery taste. If you can get your hands on it from a health food or specialty store, Botanical Cuisine's cultured butter is unbelievable.
Cream and sour cream
Coconut cream or coconut milk can add richness and flavour to dishes like laksa and curries, and a dollop of coconut cream that's been chilled in the fridge makes a fabulous topping for cakes, scones, pies and tarts. You can also buy a sweet coconut condensed milk at Woolworths.
For sour cream, try Tofutti's Sour Supreme — or even a scoop of your favourite natural-flavoured coconut yoghurt! On a plate of nachos, for example, it fits the bill for a tart, creamy topping perfectly. For a light whipped cream, we suggest Soyatoo Whip in soy and rice-based options.
For dairy-free yoghurt, coconut-based yoghurt has taken centre stage in recent years: try Nakula, COYO, Cocobella, or Born Cultured. If you'd prefer a soy yoghurt, Kingland or Soy Life make great options. There are even almond-based yoghurts now from Alpro or The Wise Bunny, and oat-based ones from So Delicious. Most of these brands offer a variety of flavours and can be found in the yoghurt section at major supermarkets. Kingland also make a dairy-free Greek-style yoghurt, sold at Coles and specialty shops.
For delicious non-dairy ice cream, we are spoiled for choice in Australia. Veterans of the game, Ben & Jerry's make several dairy-free flavours now and Australian-owned Over the Moo make a rich, creamy, coconut-based range that puts many old school ice creams to shame. You can even find most of your childhood favourites — Magnums, Cornettos, and Drumsticks — in vegan options these days! And they are nothing short of spectacular. You'll also find So Good and PANA dairy-free ice creams, and Weis sorbets (also surprisingly creamy) in major supermarkets. Generally, most sorbets at ice cream shops and gelaterias are dairy-free by nature — just double check. For a low-calorie option, Halo Top's dairy-free ice creams are available at Woolworths.
If you have trouble finding items like dairy-free cheese or dairy-free chocolate in your local supermarket, ask at the counter in case it's hiding in a special section, or try checking in organic or wholefood shops. Alternatively, you can order everything from the comfort of your home from stores like Vegan Perfection or The Cruelty Free Shop!
The abundance of dairy-free options available to us nowadays has made it easier than ever to cook and bake without cow's milk. You can swap out dairy milk for a non-dairy option in virtually any recipe — even a creamy classic like crème brulee!
Each year hundreds of thousands of bobby calves across Australia are discarded as 'waste products' of the dairy industry. Born only to keep their mothers producing milk, they are sent to slaughter within days of being born — so that their mother's milk can be bottled for humans.
It's no wonder 1 in 6 Aussies are ditching dairy. And with loads of plant-based sources of calcium to choose from, including dark leafy greens, seeds, pulses and calcium-fortified non-dairy milks, there's no reason not to. (Click here to debunk dairy's calcium myth.)
Want to enjoy even more delicious dairy-free meals?
If all this talk about calf-friendly options has you feeling inspired to try more dairy-free food and drinks, check out VegKit.com for even more ideas! You'll find over 150 delicious recipes, plus all the support you need: the latest products, best places for eating out, nutrition tips, lifestyle advice and more. And while you're at it, grab a copy of our FREE Veg Starter Kit — a handy resource no matter where you are in your journey with plant-based food.