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Do I Need Dairy Substitutes?
(Kelowna BC Canada)
Is is crucial to eat the fortified dairy substitutes such as soy, almond or rice milk if I eat enough legumes, nuts, vegetables, fruits and take calcium & magnesium supplements? I do not eat any soy products either. Do I need dairy substitutes?
Great question! No, you do not need to eat dairy substitutes. In fact, because many of them are processed and made in big facilities, they end up not giving us as many nutrients as basic nuts or beans would give us. Whole legumes and whole nuts are the most healthy versions of those foods. Many people simply use the dairy substitutes as a transition from "regular American diets" to vegan diets.
You also do not need calcium or magnesium supplements in order to get those nutrients. Dark leafy greens are packed with the nutrients you need. You can also get plenty of calcium from other plant foods.
The only vitamin that is truly hard to get from a vegan diet is vitamin B12 (although you can find it in nutritional yeast and blackstrap molasses). Vitamin B12 grows in the guts of animals and then distributes itself throughout their flesh and milk. So, as a vegan, it can be hard to get that vitamin. Just to be sure, I do take a B12 supplement every so often to ensure I am getting enough of it.
So, no, you do not need dairy substitutes.