According to the National Institute of Health’s clearinghouse on digestive diseases, between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Luckily, it’s easy to eat deliciously without dairy. Learn more about:
- The dairy-free alternative products in your store
- Tips on the foods and ingredients to avoid
- Resources for information and support
- Luscious dairy-free recipes to make at home
Dairy-Free Shopping at Whole Foods Market
There are many available products for those on a dairy-free diet. Whether you’re lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy, or simply prefer to follow a plant-based diet, you can find milk alternatives – such as soy, rice, coconut, almond and hemp milks – in both the dairy cooler and our grocery aisles (for shelf-stable versions) and look for cheese substitutes, non-dairy yogurts, non-dairy sour cream, coffee creamers and more in the non-dairy section of the dairy aisle. Don’t forget, you can find great dairy-free selections in the frozen section, too, from coconut- and rice-milk ice creams to cheese-free pizzas.
As always, product ingredients can change without notice, so be sure to check the label every time you purchase a product.
Living Dairy Free
People follow a dairy-free diet for different reasons. Some are allergic to the dairy proteins themselves, while others lack the enzyme lactase, which digests milk sugar, called lactose. People who are lactose-intolerant may choose to eliminate or reduce products containing lactose, while those with allergies must eliminate dairy proteins altogether.
Look for both obvious and not-so obvious sources of dairy if you’re avoiding it. For instance, certain brands of tuna fish and alternative cheese products can include a dairy protein called casein. Dairy and its derivatives can be found in foods like packaged lunch meats, mayonnaise and potato chips. Dairy components can also be found in pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins, skin lotions, soaps and more! Be sure to do your research on all the products you use.
Primary Sources of Dairy
- Milk (in any form, including whole, lowfat, lactose-free and skim or nonfat milks; acidophilus milk; buttermilk; cream and half-and-half; condensed and evaporated milks; goat’s and sheep’s milks; milk proteins; milk solids; malted milk and milk fat)
- Butter (including butter fat, butter oil an artificial butter flavor) and some brands of margarine
- Custards, puddings and nougat
- Cream cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
- Ice cream, gelato, sherbet and ice milk
Hidden Sources of Dairy
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you’re eating dairy free, avoid products with these ingredients:
- Caseinates (in the form of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and ammonium)
- Rennet casein
Resources and Information
Talk to your doctor and learn more from these trusted resources:
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
- Mayo Clinic’s Lactose Intolerance pages
- WebMD’s Lactose Intolerance Center
In addition, read more about working non-dairy sources of calcium into your diet.