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Going Dairy-Free

November 18, 2020

Every day more and more people are learning about the implications our current food system has on animals, the environment, and both individual and public health.

As a result, the number of people interested in removing animal products such as dairy from their diet is continually increasing. Are you interested in going dairy-free but don’t know where to begin? Here I’ll share what an example dairy-free day looks like for me with the hope of offering you some guidance and encouragement in your dairy-free journey.

For some extra tips, with each meal I’ve linked to some of the types of products I typically use for the meal but feel free to make substitutions based on your personal preference. With these linked products please just note the ingredient, not necessarily the brand.

To learn about the health benefits of going dairy-free, watch our webinar Ditch the Dairy: Debunking Myths and Answering Your Nutrition Questions.

Breakfast: Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

Lunch: Mixed Berry Oatmeal

Dinner: Loaded Sweet Potato

Breakfast: Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

I love starting my day with a smoothie bowl! The amount of ingredients and combinations that can be used for this meal are unlimited, so you can really just go with whatever sounds good to you that day. My favorite smoothie bowl base, as well as the one I make most often, is banana chocolate made with raw cacao powder and nibs.


Prepare in advance

Bananas for a smoothie bowl base need to be frozen in advance. Bananas should be allowed to ripen completely before peeling and putting them in the freezer for about 36-48 hours. I keep my freezer stocked with frozen bananas so I always have some ready when I want to make a smoothie bowl!


  1. Put frozen bananas, plant-based milk, and cacao powder in a high-speed blender in this order: cacao powder first, frozen bananas second, and plant-based milk third. Blend.
  2. While blending, you will likely need to stop and stir a few times as the banana chunks can get stuck and not blend. Adjust your use of plant-based milk more or less to achieve your desired consistency for the smoothie base. More liquid will lead to a less thick base whereas less liquid will lead to a more thick base. I find using soy milk, oat milk, and cashew milk produces a creamy rather than icy base, which is my preference. If you prefer an icy base, try using almond milk and/or adding a few ice cubes.
  3. When blending is complete, pour the smoothie base into a bowl.
  4. Top smoothie base with your toppings of choice.

Lunch: Mixed Berry Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another extremely versatile meal. I enjoy having oatmeal for lunch and often switch back and forth between cooked oats for oatmeal and cold oats for overnight oats. I usually have cooked oatmeal more in the winter or when working from home and overnight oats more in the summer or when I need to pack a lunch. I try to eat berries every day so this mixed berry oatmeal is what I make the most! You can easily substitute the mixed berries for cut up pears, plums, mangos, or any other fruit of your choice.


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1-2 cups fresh or unthawed frozen mixed berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries
  • Toppings of choice such as unsweetened granola or cereal, raisins, raw cacao nibs, nuts or nut butter, seeds or seed butter, cinnamon, etc.


  1. Cook oats with water (or plant-based milk, if desired) on stovetop as directed. Note that you do not need to add salt as is typically instructed if you continually stir and adjust the temperature throughout the cooking process. If you want to add salt as is typically instructed, go for it!
  2. When the oats finish cooking, stir in one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and then pour the oats into a bowl.
  3. Top the oats with fresh or unthawed frozen mixed berries. If you didn’t have time to dethaw your frozen mixed berries you can simply stir these into the oats after you add the ground flaxseed to let the warm oats melt the fruit a bit before serving.
  4. Top the oats with your toppings of choice.

Dinner: Loaded Sweet Potato

If you are looking for a simple dinner, this is a great option! It’s so easy to make sweet potatoes and beans or lentils, which are the only two things you need to cook for this meal. When cooking this meal for a group, it’s fun to set all of the prepared ingredients out in bowls and let each person build their own loaded sweet potato with the various toppings. A cooked grain such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth can also be added as a great side item.


  • 1 medium-large sweet potato
  • 2 cups dark leafy greens (steamed or raw) such as kale, swiss chard, spinach, and arugula
  • 2 cups vegetables (steamed or raw) such as zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms, and tomatoes
  • ¾ cup cooked beans or lentils of your choice
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ½ cup guacamole or ½ avocado


  1. Cook the sweet potato and beans or lentils via the method of your choice. When the sweet potato is done cooking, let it cool for about three minutes before cutting it open.
  2. Fill the sweet potato with the dark leafy greens, beans or lentils, and vegetables. For any ingredients that don’t fit inside the sweet potato just add these anywhere on the plate. If you did decide to make a cooked grain, add it at this time.
  3. Top the filled sweet potato with salsa and guacamole or avocado.
  4. Season with onion, garlic, and parsley or any other seasonings of your choice. Nutritional yeast adds a great flavor as well. Sunflower seeds can be added for a nice crunch!

All measurements included here are an approximation as I don’t actually use exact measurements when preparing meals. In addition, all ingredient quantities listed are meant for one person so if you are cooking for more than just yourself adjust the ingredient quantities accordingly. Lastly, this is not an exhaustive list of what I eat in a day! Depending on the time of year, I typically snack on things like dates, oranges, apples and nut butter, carrots or cucumbers and hummus, and steamed edamame with liquid aminos in between meals. Be sure to fill up with an abundant variety of plants!

Inspired? If you make one or more of these meals I would love to know! Email me a picture of your chocolate smoothie bowl, mixed berry oatmeal, or loaded sweet potato at ali@ffacoalition.org. Special thanks to Britt Cripps, FFAC College Fellow, for making and photographing the loaded sweet potato meal shown here.

Ali Fairchild is the Chicago Director of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition.

Sharing this article helps raise awareness about the impact of factory farming on humans, animals, and the environment.

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