What can you eat on a dairy and soy free diet?

A dairy and soy free diet eliminates two major food groups that are common allergens and sources of discomfort for many people. While giving up cheese, milk, yogurt, tofu and soy sauce presents some challenges, there are still plenty of delicious foods you can enjoy on a dairy and soy free diet.

Why follow a dairy and soy free diet?

There are several reasons why someone may need or choose to avoid dairy and soy:

  • Dairy allergy or intolerance – Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose intolerance can cause bloating, gas, cramping and diarrhea.
  • Soy allergy – Soy is one of the eight major food allergens. Reactions can include hives, itching, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea and anaphylaxis.
  • Sensitivities – Some people who do not test positive for a true food allergy still experience unpleasant symptoms when they eat dairy or soy. These can include skin issues, sinus congestion, fatigue, joint pain and headaches.
  • Autoimmune conditions – For diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid disease, some find avoiding problematic foods helps reduce inflammation and symptoms.
  • Digestive disorders – Individuals with conditions like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis and IBS often have trigger foods, including dairy and soy, that can worsen gut inflammation and cause flare-ups.
  • Hormonal effects – Soy contains plant estrogens that may impact thyroid function and hormone levels for some people.

Going dairy and soy free for a period of time, such as with an elimination diet, can help determine if these foods worsen your symptoms. You may be able to eventually reintroduce small amounts, or you may feel much better fully avoiding soy and/or dairy long term.

Tips for following a dairy and soy free diet

To set yourself up for success on a dairy and soy free diet:

  • Read labels carefully – Scan ingredient lists for obvious sources like milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, whey, tofu and soybean oil. Also watch out for hidden forms like casein and whey in processed foods.
  • Watch out for cross contamination – Check labels for statements like “may contain milk” or “produced in a facility that also processes soy”.
  • Choose dairy and soy free substitutes – Opt for dairy-free milks, yogurts, cheeses and butters made from ingredients like almond, coconut, cashew, oat and hemp. Use tamari instead of soy sauce.
  • Supplement if needed – Talk to your healthcare provider about calcium and vitamin D supplements if avoiding dairy long term. Soy-free vegan protein powders can help meet protein needs.
  • Eat a balanced diet – Focus on incorporating a variety of healthy whole foods – vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Communicate with loved ones – Let family and friends who cook for you know about your dietary needs. Bring safe snacks to social gatherings.

With some adjustments, it’s certainly possible to find delicious and satisfying dairy and soy-free options for every meal.

Dairy and Soy-Free Foods to Enjoy

While you do have to avoid obvious sources of dairy and soy, there are still plenty of nourishing foods you can eat on this diet:


  • Meats – Chicken, beef, pork, lamb
  • Fish and seafood – Salmon, tuna, shrimp, scallops, halibut
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes – lentils, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds – almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
  • Dairy-free protein powder – hemp, pea, rice

Dairy Substitutes

  • Nondairy milk – almond, coconut, oat, hemp, cashew
  • Dairy-free yogurt – coconut, almond, oat
  • Dairy-free cheese – types made from nuts, seeds, coconut
  • Dairy-free butter – vegetable oil-based
  • Dairy-free ice cream – coconut, almond, cashew based

Fruits and Vegetables

  • All fresh fruits – bananas, berries, citrus, apples, melons
  • All fresh vegetables – leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, peppers
  • Frozen and canned produce

Grains, Starches and Flours

  • Grains – brown rice, oats, millet, quinoa, teff
  • Starchy vegetables – sweet potato, butternut squash, parsnips
  • Flours – almond, coconut, cassava, arrowroot

Fats and Oils

  • Plant-based oils – olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
  • Nuts, seeds and their butters – almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds; almond butter, sunflower seed butter
  • Olives, avocados

Herbs, Spices and Condiments

  • All fresh and dried herbs – basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano
  • Spices – cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, curry powder
  • Soy-free condiments – mustard, apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos


  • Water, sparkling water
  • Unsweetened coffee and tea
  • Unsweetened nut milks – almond, cashew, coconut
  • Fresh vegetable and fruit juices

Sample Meal Plan

Here is a sample one day dairy and soy free meal plan to give you inspiration for what to eat:

Meal Foods
  • Omelette with spinach, peppers, mushrooms
  • Sliced tomato
  • Avocado
  • Berries
  • Quinoa and chickpea salad
  • Baby carrots and bell pepper slices
  • Apple
  • Energy balls made with almond butter, oats, coconut, chocolate chips
  • Nondairy yogurt
  • Baked salmon
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Side salad with balsamic dressing

Dairy and Soy-Free Recipes

Here are some delicious dairy and soy free recipes to add to your collection:


  • Berry coconut smoothie – Blend coconut milk, frozen berries, banana, spinach, flaxseed.
  • Tofu-free veggie scramble – Sautee eggs with onions, peppers, spinach and seasonings.
  • Pumpkin spice granola – Toss oats, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, coconut oil and maple syrup and bake.
  • Banana almond muffins – Mash bananas with almond flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and chocolate chips.

Lunch and Dinner

  • Quinoa stuffed peppers – Stuff bell peppers with quinoa, black beans, salsa, avocado and bake.
  • Cashew chicken stir fry – Sauté chicken with vegetables and cashew sauce.
  • Veggie curry – Make coconut curry sauce with sweet potato, chickpeas, spinach and spices.
  • Zucchini lasagna – Layer zucchini slices with tomato sauce, lentils and dairy-free cheese.


  • Trail mix – Toss together nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, dried fruit.
  • Green smoothie – Blend kale, banana, almond milk and cocoa powder.
  • Apple and almond butter – Slices of apple dipped in almond butter.
  • Popcorn – Pop plain kernels and toss with olive oil, sea salt and spices.


  • Coconut milk ice cream – Blend coconut milk with frozen banana and cocoa powder.
  • Chocolate avocado mousse – Blend avocado, cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla.
  • Berry crumble – Make crumble topping with oats, coconut sugar, coconut oil and put on top of berries.
  • Pumpkin pie pudding – Puree pumpkin with coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.

Common Questions

Can I still get enough calcium without dairy?

Yes, you can absolutely meet your daily calcium needs with a dairy-free diet. Good plant-based sources include leafy greens like kale, broccoli, almonds, chia seeds, fortified non-dairy milks and juices, and calcium-set tofu (if you can tolerate soy). If you are not getting enough from foods, talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement.

What are the best milk substitutes to use?

There are many delicious non-dairy milk options to try, like almond, coconut, oat, hemp and cashew milks. Look for unsweetened varieties without additives. Each milk has a different nutritional profile, so experiment to see which you prefer for drinking, cooking, baking and more.

How do I replace butter?

When it comes to substituting butter in recipes, good vegan options include coconut oil, avocado oil and vegan buttery spreads made from vegetable oils. You can also use fruit purees and mashed banana in baking recipes. For spreading on toast, try nut and seed butters instead of butter.

What are easy high protein foods without soy?

You have lots of high protein options beyond soy on a dairy-free diet, including beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, quinoa, wild rice, hemp hearts and protein powder made from pea, brown rice or hemp. Lean meats like chicken, fish and turkey are protein-rich as well.

Is coconut milk a dairy product?

No, coconut milk and products made from coconut milk (yogurt, ice cream, creamer) are dairy-free. While “milk” is in the name, coconut milk comes from the meat and liquid of coconuts, not cows.Coconut milk is a tasty dairy-free option to use in recipes and beverages if you do not have a coconut allergy.

What are good snacks on a dairy and soy free diet?

There are endless healthy and satisfying dairy and soy-free snack options like fresh fruit, raw veggies and hummus, nuts, seeds, trail mix, apple slices with nut butter, smoothies, popcorn, and coconut yogurt with fresh berries. Get creative with combinations you enjoy!

The Bottom Line

Following a dairy and soy free diet due to food sensitivities, allergies or other health issues can feel challenging at first. However, there are still plenty of delicious plant-based foods you can eat to create varied, nourishing meals. With some adjustments to your shopping lists and recipes, a dairy and soy-free diet can become second nature, and provide health benefits if these ingredients have caused issues for you in the past.

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