Do vegans really need dairy substitutes?

Question:
I’m trying to go vegan, but my mom isn’t being very supportive. I’m eating lots of whole grains, beans and nuts, fruits and vegetables and that’s all. My mom agreed to buy soy milk for my coffee, but she thinks that only people who can afford to buy the fancy Whole Foods processed stuff can be vegan. I’ve been a vegetarian for years, and processed meat substitutes are something I hardly ever eat.
But dairy substitutes are on the vegan food pyramid. Considering the fact that most of the world doesn’t eat dairy so it really shouldn’t be on even the normal pyramid, why is it considered a necessary food group for vegans? Can’t I just take a multivitamin with calcium, B12, and iron? What would I need to eat to replace the lost fat/calories since I can’t afford soy yogurt or cheese?

7 thoughts on “Do vegans really need dairy substitutes?”

  1. umm, if you really don’t want soy substitutes, then yeah vitamins will also do. you can also find good fats in certain oils, and soya beans are cheap than soya milk and can be cooked, etc. just try and be really creative.

  2. They don’t *need* it, as there are other plant sources of calcium (check out http://www.vrg.org). Dairy products don’t have iron anyway, so that’s a wash. If you eat a lot of beans and greens, just make sure you eat something rich in vitamin C with them.

    Nuts are a good source of healthy fat, as are avocados.

    It’s not a bad idea to take a multivitamin, but you might want to buy a soy milk fortified with B12. If you can’t do that, try to get a B12 supplement that is sublingual (under the tongue) or a spray.

    As someone else pointed out, the dairy lobby has huge sway over the USDA and convinced them to keep dairy in the pyramid, even though lactase persistence is common only among those of European extraction, mostly Northern European, and those native to northern climates.

  3. Dairy substitutes are really just for taste/convenience/psychological reasons.
    They are usually made from soya, nuts or seeds.
    Soya is un-necessary, all it gives you is protein. Its very poor nutritionally apart from the protein. It also can cause underactive thyroid (did for me).
    To get protein it is better to eat other beans (wide variety), lentils and chickpeas plus nut, seeds and wholegrains.
    To get calcium you should eat dark leafy greens every day. You could pick wild dandelions, nettles, and seaweed to make soup for free. You can make green smoothies (greens blended with fruit and water). You could make your own sesame milk which is another good source of calcium. Blend sesame seeds with water then strain. Calcium tablets are not very effective.
    You shouldnt need to take iron tablets if you’re eating dark leafy greens every day and all the other food groups – pulses, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruit, veg.
    You do need to take vitamin B12 and vitamin D – most people do not get enough D from the sun.

  4. You don’t NEED them, it’s just nice to have some soy milk in your coffee, tea or cereal. I agree with you, it doesn’t belong on a food pyramid. The only reason dairy is on the US food pyramid is because of the dairy lobby – they take for granted many races are lactose intolerant. The soy cheese is disgusting by the way, don’t waste your money on it. And you can get soy milk very cheap. My grocery store carries a store brand organic soy milk (which I’m pretty sure is re-packaged soy dream).

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