If you're like me and have consumed copious amounts of dairy products despite being lactose intolerant, you know the struggle of switching to dairy-free. It's hard to imagine life without cheese or ice cream, but thankfully we are entering an era where there are dairy alternatives to almost anything you can imagine.

If you are thinking of going dairy-free but are hesitant to try the alternatives, no worries. I tried 5 common dairy alternatives to figure out which ones are almost worth the swap to save your stomach.

Dairy Free "Butter"

Sarah Rausch

A classic kitchen staple, butter is one of those ingredients that seems to appear in every recipe. Even though applesauce can be used as a butter swap in baking, there are times when all I'm craving is something as simple as toast with warm, melted butter smeared all over. So what's a dairy-free girl to do?

Smart Balance offers a tremendous alternative that tastes and spreads almost exactly like the real deal. The blend of vegetable oils gives it that familiar creamy texture, not to mention some extra health benefits from consuming all those good fats. It's definitely worthy of spreading all over some homemade pumpkin bread.

Almond Milk

ice, beer
Kendra Valkema

Due to my body's rejection of lactose, I've never been able to drink milk without throwing up. The thought of drinking straight milk upsets my stomach. Sometimes, even dairy-free milk is hard for me to drink because they remind me so much of regular milk.

If you're a milk lover who's looking for a lactose-free alternative that won't taste that plants, Almond Breeze has a line of almond milk beverages that taste remarkably similar to cow's milk. They have the same consistency as cow's milk with a slightly nutty flavor mixed in.

Despite the many of flavors they offer, I suggest sticking to their original, unsweetened flavor. This cuts down on unnecessary sugar consumption, ensuring that it will still be the healthier choice. The unflavored varieties are a great swap for traditional milk in most recipes, like in a scrumptious dairy-free garden frittata.

Vegan Cheese

dairy product
Sarah Rausch

Cheese tends to be the one food that prevents people from becoming entirely dairy-free. How can anything without dairy begin to compare to eating melted cheese straight from the wheel? As someone whose favorite food is macaroni and cheese, trying dairy-free cheese was a huge step for me.

While shopping for cheese alternatives, I came across the brand Follow Your Heart and decided to try it. I've tried other brands of vegan cheese in the past and have been thoroughly disappointed. I went with their mozzarella style "cheese" since mozzarella has a fairly mild taste.

While the consistency was very similar to real mozzarella, the smell and taste were a little different. The flavor is sharp, nutty and lingers a bit longer than the real stuff. But the more I ate, the more it began to taste like mozzarella. It definitely doesn't taste like the real thing, but for a fake cheese, it was pretty close.


sweet, milk, coffee, tea
Mollie Simon

As a true breakfast icon, yogurt is an irreplaceable food in the typical American diet. There are a surprising number of dairy-free options available, but the one I tried and loved is a coconut based product from the brand So Delicious. I'm not much of a yogurt connoisseur, but their Unsweetened Vanilla "Yogurt" Alternative was super creamy and satisfying; it almost made me forget it was a dairy alternative.

If you're skeptical of the use of coconut milk, let me assure you that there is barely a hint of coconut flavor. It's definitely a great alternative even if you're not a fan of coconut. But, there are tons of dairy-free yogurt alternatives out there, so there's sure to be one you can enjoy.

Ice Cream

Erin Munro

You know I had to finish with the best one. For me, you can't go wrong with Ben & Jerry's - even for dairy-free ice cream (or, as they refer to it, "non-dairy frozen dessert"). I found this description very fitting, as it does not taste like the regular B & J's ice cream I know.

The "cream" part of ice cream is missing in this dairy alternative, but the P.B. & Cookies flavor I tried more than makes up for it with loads of chocolate, cookie chunks, and gooey peanut butter. They all come together to create a flavorful frozen treat. Out of all of the flavors they offer in their non-dairy variety, I would rank this flavor as "the closest you can get to ice cream without being ice cream."

Going dairy-free is not for the faint of heart, even if you are lactose intolerant. It's hard to imagine shamefully spooning down an entire pint of ice cream without any dairy. While some significant differences in taste and texture between dairy and non-dairy products do exist, at the end of the day you've made the healthier choice, and your body will thank you for it.