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Alternatives to Butter and Cheese

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 1/27/2011

For those attempting to reduce their dairy consumption, learn about some alternatives to butter and cheese.

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    Cutting Out Dairy

    Humans are unique in that they are the only species that taps the milk of other animals to ingest beyond infancy. Today dairy itself is a product of the same kind of environmentally destructive practices used by factory meat farms. There are a variety of growth hormones and antibiotics used in milk cows that are contributing to health problems in the common human populations. Cream based products themselves are often linked to rising human disorders, including heart disease and the obesity pandemic. Even those that originally pushed away meat products are turning to vegan food completely and focusing on sustainability. Though there are a number of alternatives for standard milk, the ones for butter and cheese are often less known.

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    Butter Substitutes and "Vegan Butter"

    Butter, both as a garnishment and as a baking agent, is one of the hardest things for people to remove from their common cooking regiment. Instead of using butter, you can try margarine, but you need to make sure that the product does not contain any hidden dairy and animal products like whey protein. There are plenty of vegan butter alternatives that are specifically labeled as such but usually act as margarine in texture and taste. Soy lecithin spread is great for use on toast, especially if you want to start the day with a little extra protein. Many people are using oils instead of butter in general, including for cooking. Try using olive or flax seed oil when baking for a vegan butter substitute and even give it a shot on top of bread. Applesauce is a good replacement for butter or eggs when cooking but should only be used on sweet baked goods. There are many butter-type spreads and crèmes made from nuts of all sorts, especially almond butter. Also look for similar products made from coconut milk or even try some types of vegetable shortening when cooking.

    You can even make your own dairy free vegan butter substitute, which starts out with organic tofu. Take three-quarters of a cup of the tofu and blend it with two and a quarter tablespoons of flax seed oil. Add one-half teaspoon of salt, one-half of teaspoon of turmeric, and one-half teaspoon of garlic powder, and you are ready to go. This vegan butter substitute is the cheaper option and may end up giving you more control on flavor.

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    Vegan Cheese

    Cheese is a staple in many people’s diet. There are a variety of soy and rice cheeses out there, but many of them include some form of animal products. If you are trying to adopt a strict vegan diet, you may want to check the label before you try it, and you will find that vegan cheese is often labeled so very clearly to attract those who need to include this into their diet. There are some varieties that are made of nutritional yeast, but these will take some getting used to.

    Vegan cheese does not usually hold the flavor of cheese in general and usually just approximates it. Instead, many people who are attempting to supplement their diet will use alternative products altogether to act as cheese alternatives. Items such as sauces, yogurts, and other additional food will be great alternatives.