Alternatives to dairy

There many plant based alternatives to dairy products traditionally used as part of a lacto-vegetarian diet. The market for these products is not huge, but is gradually growing. Please note that most of the products mentioned below are generally available in the UK, but may not be available in other countries.

Dairy Milk – can be replaced by plant based alternatives to dairy milk. The most popular plant milk is soya milk, which is generally available in long life and fresh cartons incarnations at most supermarkets. Other alternatives include oat milk, rice milk, coconut milk – and almond milk and hazelnut are becoming increasingly popular. The best range of products is generally available in health food shops.

Butter and Ghee – Most butter can be replaced with a plant based spreads. In the UK, popular brands widely available in supermarkets include Pure (available in Sunflower and Soya varieties) and Vitalite. Vegetable Ghee is readily available in many (Indian) supermarkets. Popular brands include Pride, Khanum and KTC. Before choosing to use plant based spreads and/or vegetable ghee, you should be aware these are typically produced using palm oil (which itself is associated with the destruction of primary rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia) and that they are sometimes coloured using beta-carotene that has been produced using a type of fungus (and therefore not suitable for strict Jains). Jain Vegans are currently investigating sustainable sources of Vegetable Ghee.

Cheese – The market for plant based cheeses has been growing steadily over the last few years, and is continuously improving. Tofutti and Scheese (Bute Island Foods) make cream-cheese style spreads (available in most health food shops and kosher supermarkets). Redwoods, Scheese, Vegusto and Vegourmet make a wide variety of hard vegan cheeses – also available in healthfood shops. Some varieties are specifically designed for melting. Vegusto and Scheese products are free from palm oil and use coconut and other vegetable oils instead. Many dairy-free cheese alternatives use potato starch as an ingredient and are therefore not suitable for strict Jains.

Paneer – Tofu can also be used as an alternative to paneer. Home-made tofu (curdled using lemon juice and made in a similar way to home-made paneer) typically has a texture more similar to paneer than tofu available in shops and supermarkets.

Cream – Alpro and Sojade produce plant-based alternatives to single cream, available in larger supermarkets and health food shops.

Yoghurt – There are several companies and brands producing dairy free alternatives to yoghurt (sometimes called “Yofu”), including Alpro, Provamel and Sojade. Feedback we have received suggest that the plain varieties by Provamel and Sojade taste closest to “dahi” and are best for making chaas.

Ice-cream – There are several brands of vegan icecreams available in supermarkets and health food shops. Feedback we have received suggest that Swedish Glace is the most popular among vegan Jains we know(available in most large supermarkets). Other brands include B’nice Rice Dream (rice based), Toffuti (soya based), Bessant and Drury’s (coconut based), Kirsty’s (coconut based) and Booja Booja (cashew based).

Eggs and Mayonnaise– For baking, there are a number of egg replacement powders that can be found in supermarkets, online and at health-food shops. Tofu makes an excellent alternative to scrambled eggs. Plamil and Granovita make excellent egg-free alternatives to mayonnaise which come in a variety of flavours.

Chocolate – Dark chocolate should generally be suitable for vegans, but many brands unnecessarily add milk powder, whey or butterfat to their recipes (often to make it cheaper to produce). Plamil, Organica, Divine and many supermarkets make chocolates suitable for vegans. Booja Booja also make excellent hand-made chocolate truffles.