The Ultimate Guide to Dairy Alternatives

Our guide to dairy alternatives will help you find your new favourite products, from plant milk to chocolate

Vegan dairy alternatives in the UK
Image Credit: AdobeStock

If you’re daunted by the prospect of going dairy-free, don’t be!

Replacing your favourite everyday foods can seem like an impossible challenge, but trust us when we say there’s a delicious substitute for pretty much everything nowadays.

You may think you can’t live without your go-to cheese, ice cream or chocolate brands, but we’ll help you find a swap that’s just as tasty (if not more so).

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to dairy alternatives in the UK and answered some common questions about plant-based substitutes below.

Note: Items marked with ** are from non-vegan brands that offer vegan ranges, so be sure to check that the item is labelled vegan before you buy it!

Milk Alternatives

Thanks to the range of plant-based milks on the market, finding a cow’s milk alternative is a breeze. The most common varieties are soy, oat, almond, coconut, cashew, hazelnut, rice, pea and hemp.

Each has its own unique benefits and taste, so you may have to experiment until you find the perfect vegan milk for your cup of tea or bowl of cereal!

Milk alternative brands:

  • Alpro
  • Oatly
  • Mighty Pea
  • Koko
  • Almond Breeze
  • Jord
  • Minor Figures
  • Rude Health
  • Planet Organic
  • Glebe Farm
  • Califia Farms
  • Good Hemp
  • Dug potato milk
  • Gaia’s Farming Co
  • Supermarket own brand
Plant milk alternatives available in UK stores

Vegan Margarine and Butter

Perfect for baking or spreading on toast, margarine and butter are staples many of us can’t imagine life without.

There are several vegan spreads on the market which boast the same taste and texture as their dairy counterparts, making them some of the best dairy alternatives you can always rely on.

Margarine alternative brands:

  • Pure
  • Vitalite
  • Naturli
  • Koko
  • Violife
  • Flora (all varieties except Flora Buttery)**
  • Supermarket own brand

Dairy free margarine and butter

Vegan Yoghurts

Yoghurts make great grab-and-go breakfasts or quick snacks, and fortunately, you don’t have to go without them when you ditch dairy.

Made from a range of different plant-based sources like soy, oat or coconut, dairy-free yoghurts come in all sorts of flavours and you may be pleasantly surprised by the variety.

You should find everything from classic flavoured yoghurts (perfect for kids’ lunchboxes) to thick, Greek-style yoghurts.

Dairy-free yoghurt brands:

  • Alpro
  • Koko
  • Cocos
  • The Coconut Collaborative
  • Provamel
  • Oatly
  • Biomel Probiotic Drinks
  • Supermarket own brand
Dairy free yoghurt alternatives

Dairy-Free Cheese

For some people, this is where things get challenging! We get it: those cheese cravings are tough. However, finding vegan cheese alternatives is easier than ever and new products are launched all the time in the UK.

From plant-based Parmesan to classic Mozzarella, there’s a dairy-free cheese out there for you – we know it!

Dairy-free cheese brands:

  • Violife
  • Sheese
  • Koko
  • Tyne Chease
  • Nush
  • Mozza Risella
  • Applewood**
  • Mexicana**
  • Plant-Based Babybel**
  • Laughing Cow Vegan Cheese Triangles**
  • Green Vie
  • Julienne Bruno
  • Honestly Tasty
  • Palace Culture
  • Ilchester**
  • Philadelphia Plant-Based**
  • Cathedral City**
  • Supermarket own bank
Vegan cheese alternatives UK

Vegan Ice Cream and Desserts

Moving on from dairy doesn’t mean leaving decadent desserts behind. Far from it! There are countless vegan dessert options in UK supermarkets and independent health stores.

You’ll find indulgent chocolate mousse, mouth-watering cookies and every flavour of ice cream you can think of.

Vegan ice cream and dessert brands:

  • Wicked Kitchen (Tesco)
  • Ben & Jerry’s**
  • Jude’s**
  • MiiRO
  • Coconut Collaborative
  • ROAR
  • Swedish Glace
  • Naturli
  • Halo Top**
  • Vegan Magnum**
  • Vegan Cornetto**
  • Daiya Cheesecake
  • Lazy Day Foods
  • Supermarket own brand
Vegan Ice Creams UK

Vegan Chocolate

If you think cow’s milk is an essential ingredient for tasty chocolate, you couldn’t be more wrong. Vegan chocolate is easy to come by and it’s not all dark chocolate either.

Made with dairy alternatives like rice milk, plant-based chocolate has a lot to offer, so make sure you give it a chance!

Dairy-free chocolate brands:

  • NOMO
  • LoveRaw
  • Vego
  • Jeavons Toffee
  • Moo Free
  • Galaxy Vegan Range**
  • iChoc
  • H!P
  • Booja Booja
  • CocoaLibre
  • Rhythm108
  • Ombar
  • Doisy & Dam
  • Happi
  • PlayinChoc
  • Vegan KitKat**
  • Buttermilk Plant-Powered Range**
Vegan Chocolate

Dairy-Free Cream

It is possible to find vegan cream for your cooking and baking endeavours.

Dairy-free whipped cream and cream brands:

  • Food Heaven
  • SoyaToo
  • Schlagfix
  • Oatly
  • Elmlea**
  • Alpro
  • Biona
  • The Coconut Collaborative
  • Provamel
Vegan Dairy Free Cream & Whipped Cream

Dairy Alternatives: Your Questions Answered

What are dairy alternatives made from?

When transitioning away from dairy, many people are concerned about the ingredients and whether the replacements are any healthier than cow’s milk.

The most common dairy replacements include soya, nuts, oats and coconut. Innovations are constantly being made in this area, which gives consumers lots of variety when shopping for dairy alternatives.

Are dairy alternatives healthier?

Cow’s milk is often believed to be a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin B12, but it’s not the only source. We can obtain essential nutrients from alternative sources, such as plant milks fortified with calcium and B12.

The nutritional profile of each dairy alternative product varies, so make sure you check product labels and take care to ensure you get adequate nutrition in your diet.

Is ditching dairy better for the environment?

Because of the size of the animals and all the processes involved, dairy farming has a tremendous environmental impact. From methane emissions to deforestation and ocean dead zones, farming cows for their milk wreaks havoc on our planet.

A report found that the 13 largest dairy firms on the planet have the same combined greenhouse gas emissions as the whole of the UK.

While some plant milks are more sustainable than others, they all use less land and water and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than cow’s milk.

By making some simple swaps to your everyday life, you’ll help the planet and spare the suffering involved in dairy farming.

For more support with ditching dairy, check out our Choose Dairy-Free campaign.

Thinking of trying vegan?

Veganuary inspires and supports people all over the world to try vegan for January and beyond. Millions of people have already taken part. Will you join them?