Is it time to take on a dairy-free challenge? Many vegetarians want to go vegan but can’t bring themselves to stop eating dairy. And many people who just want to live without dairy for a while find it hard too. It’s hard to replace the taste of those cheeses that you’ve eaten since you were young or the cream that you put in your coffee, but there are good reasons to at least try the challenge.
5 Reasons To Take The Dairy-Free Challenge
1. You’ve Wanted To Do It
First and foremost, if you are reading about this dairy-free challenge, then you want to try it on some level.
I am a strong believer that those desires you have are indicators of something.
- Maybe you will be healthier.
- Maybe you will learn something about your diet.
- Maybe you will help someone else learn how to be healthier.
Who knows? The point is you have a desire to do it, so you owe it to yourself to follow your desires and give it a shot.
2. You Will Find Out If You Are Suffering Because Of Milk
If you feel ‘blah’ or sick after eating dairy, then you may be facing a real issue with it. You may be allergic to it. It may be interfering with your digestion. You may have lactose intolerance, as according to this source about 3/4 of the world is intolerant to lactose. You don’t know how much it is affecting you until you cut it out of your life.
In addition, if you are living with a disease, then cutting out dairy may help you relieve some symptoms that you are having. One of my friends who has hypothyroidism found she felt much better off dairy. Her guess is her hormones were being affected by the hormones in dairy. But it doesn’t really matter why – she just knows that she feels better and that’s enough to keep her off dairy for good.
Another one of my friends was suffering from joint pain, especially in her hands. She was only 39 and was worried that this pain was going to be with her for the rest of her life. The day after she quit dairy, her pain stopped, and she hasn’t had it since! Dairy was obviously causing inflammation in her body.
3. Dairy Has Been Linked To Higher Risk Of Cancer
I know everything is linked to cancer nowadays, but the fact is that milk is associated with cancer, even prostate cancer. Other cancers, such as breast cancer, are being studied for their link to dairy, but if you are someone who doesn’t want to chance it, then cutting out dairy may be a big option for you. There was even a study that suggested dairy products may be linked to an increased chance of death from breast cancer after diagnosis.
I was on a vegan cruise once, and everyone on that ship was anti-dairy. People told stories of sickness and even death in relation to dairy, and that’s where I learned about The China Study. I suggest reading it if you need an extra push to take a dairy-free challenge. It’s a book that inspired many people to go vegan, including Bill Clinton.
4. It Could Help You Lose Weight
If you’ve been trying to lose weight without success, cutting out dairy may help. Besides reasons like being high in sugar and causing gut irritation, I’ve found that dairy is one of the easiest things to overeat. While a diet without dairy can be delicious, it’s much more filling to eat a plant-based lasagna than a cheese-filled lasagna, so you end up eating less. Of course, I don’t recommend taking the dairy-free challenge strictly as a weight loss diet as you will just live in a constant state of imagining when you will get to eat dairy again, and that will just make the challenge a constant struggle.
5. Animal Cruelty
And, animal cruelty is high on the list of reasons to dump dairy. Some animal rights activists consider it one of the cruelest of all practices for a variety of reasons, including:
- Calves are taken from their mothers at birth which causes both the calf and the mother a lot of torturous stress.
- Males calves are either left to die or killed for veal.
- A female’s lifespan depends on if she will produce milk.
I’m not one to go to Peta’s site and look at horrible images. You can do that if you want… if you can handle it. I’d rather just know that I make decisions that stand for animal health and well-being and not against it.
Prepare Yourself: It’s A Must!
Don’t just try to stop eating dairy one day with a ton of dairy in your fridge or with a mindset that it’s going to be very hard. The chances of success are very low! Instead, prepare yourself by doing a few things:
- Get rid of dairy from the house. If it’s there, you will use it.
- Buy some dairy replacements to try during your challenge OR
- Create a menu for the duration of your challenge so that you have a plan on what to eat. If you feel lost, you will revert back to recipes you are comfortable with that include dairy.
- Get excited about going dairy-free. Get excited to see what it will feel like while you are doing the challenge and once it is over. Get excited about teaching other people what it is like to go dairy-free!
- Learn how to make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet as it is important for good health. The chances are good that you already are, but it never hurts to know exactly what you should include in your diet for optimal calcium levels! Read this article on 10 ways to get calcium without dairy.
- Don’t ask people to pray for you as you attempt this dairy-free diet. (We’ve all heard something along those lines before.) All that’s doing is telling your subconscious mind that you are cutting something important out of your life, and it will make it harder to stick to the challenge. Instead, tell people to get excited for you and allow yourself to feel excited too.
Cut Dairy Products One Week At A Time?
I’ve seen some daily challenges where you cut out a certain dairy product this week and then another the next week. I think if you are going to do a dairy-free challenge, do it. You can cut out cheese, but you won’t know if dairy is bothering you if you are still eating other dairy products. Moreover, you may get to week 4 and decide cutting out dairy isn’t working and start eating dairy again. You can’t know how you will feel without dairy unless you go without dairy. So, if you are doing this for health reasons, don’t wean yourself off dairy. Just do it and commit to a certain amount of days.
Easiest Dairy-Free Challenge: 7 days
One week without dairy will be long enough to call it a challenge, but not so long that you give up before you even get started.
You will find that one week will give you plenty of time to experiment with a few different recipes and see how your body reacts to a dairy-free life.
The chances are good that you will feel good, and you want to move on to the harder dairy-free challenge.
Harder Dairy-Free Challenge: 15 days
This is where you are putting yourself to the test and finding out just how much you like (or don’t like) a dairy-free diet.
You will probably still feel good, health-wise, but you may be craving those old staples that you used to eat habitually. When you get those cravings, create something without dairy to help you push through them.
At the end of the 15 days, your taste buds will be getting used to some of the dairy substitutes that you seem to like and they may even lose that ‘yeah, but it’s not dairy’ taste and be replaced with a ‘this is better than dairy’ taste.
Hardest Dairy-Free Challenge: 30 days
The good news is that the longer you participate in a dairy-free challenge, the more chances you will have to come across some milk, cheese, and other dairy product alternatives that you REALLY like.
You’ll be forced to think outside of the box, try out a bunch of dairy-free recipes, and the chances are high that there will be some dairy-free staples once you are done. I recommend getting a good vegan cheese cookbook like Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese book!
You are most likely to stay dairy-free if you do the 30-day dairy-free challenge. If you can make it 30 days without dairy, then you will have much more confidence in your ability to keep going. The longer you challenge yourself to stay dairy-free, the less of a challenge it will be. It will simply turn into a lifestyle.