Dairy Free Milk and Calcium Replacement Foods for Vegans

Vegans seek to eliminate all animal-based foods from their diets. This includes dairy products. While milk-based products provide nutritional benefits that cannot be ignored, these same nutritional benefits can be gleaned from dairy-free food products that replace the calcium and other nutrients found in milk and dairy foods.

Leafy Green Vegetables Contain Calcium

Spinach, turnip greens, collards and mustard greens all boast high levels of calcium while also being safe and healthy foods for the vegan diet. The calcium content of these green leafy vegetables per 1 cup serving is as follows:
  • Spinach – 240 mg
  • Turnip greens – 198 mg
  • Collard greens – 357 mg
  • Mustard greens – 152 mg

Soy Milk as a Dairy Replacement for Vegans

Soy milk is created by soaking and subsequently draining soybeans. Available in flavors such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, soy milk is fortified with calcium to help vegans, vegetarians and those who cannot digest the lactose in dairy milk meet their calcium needs. While soy milk doesn’t make a good cooking substitute for milk, this creamy beverage is a calcium-rich dairy alternative and can be enjoyed either on its own as a beverage or used in cereal.

Try Calcium-rich Blackstrap Molasses

Although you may not find it in your local supermarket, blackstrap molasses has been a staple of the health-food industry for many years. This extremely thick and nutrient-rich form of molasses is the byproduct of sugar liquid after its third and final boiling. If a purely vegan diet devoid of dairy products is your goal, search your local health food stores for blackstrap molasses. This natural sweetener boasts 200 mg of calcium per tbsp.

Fortified Cereal and Juice

Many cereals and juices are fortified with calcium and contain no dairy products. A 6 ounce glass of fortified orange juice can contain as much as 260 mg of calcium. When shopping for fortified cereals, take care to select whole grain cereals rather than those made with refined grains. Whole grain cereals contain additional fiber and less sugar. Fiber benefits your digestive health, lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar.

Beans are a Non-dairy Calcium Source

Beans serve as a common meat substitute for many vegans and vegetarians due to their high protein content. Some types of beans, however, are also high in calcium and can do double-duty as a dairy replacement. A 1 cup serving of the following types of beans provides considerable calcium for dairy-free vegan diets:
  • Winged beans – 244 mg
  • Soybeans – 177 mg
  • White beans – 192 mg
  • Pinto beans – 80 mg
  • Cowpeas – 212 mg

The Importance of Calcium

Your body stores calcium within your bones and teeth. Unfortunately, it's easy to inadvertently adhere to a vegan diet that lacks the calcium necessary to keep your body healthy. This can result in your body pulling calcium from your bones to make up for the deficiency – causing you to lose bone mass. By ensuring that your vegan diet contains plenty of nutritious non-dairy calcium replacements, you can preserve your health while avoiding meat and dairy products.

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