The Vegan Woman Answers: Why Can’t I Get Used to Plant Based Milks and Dairy-Free Alternatives

Welcome to our third Ask The Vegan Woman column! We hope you enjoyed our previous Q&A posts.

We encourage our community members to add info and share their thoughts and experience in the comment section below.

In reference to our article, Why You Can’t Seem to Quit Cheese, which suggests that dairy products can be addictive, we received the following question on our Facebook page: “could this be the same reason I can’t give up milk? I hate almond milk and every other vegan alternative I’ve tried. Cheese isn’t my problem, milk is”.

This goes back to a question we get quite often about those of us who find it difficult to get used to the taste of the alternative, plant based products.

Hi AC,

First off, in regards to your first question, “could this be the same reason I can’t give up milk”, the answer is yes, it could be the same reason. As cheese is derived from milk, it has many of the same qualities, perhaps even in a more enhanced level. Find out more about this with Dr. Neal Barnard’s lecture about addictive foods (you can see the Dr. Neal Barnard video here).

“I hate almond milk and every other vegan alternative I’ve tried”

This might seem a bit harsh, but you should consider this: Many people will NEVER enjoy plant based milks or dairy free alternatives to milk and dairy products, as long as they are still consuming dairy/ milk products. The reason for this is that it takes at least 30 days to “reset” your palate and allow your taste buds to enjoy the alternative flavors, but as long as you keep consuming dairy products, your palate won’t clear and you will be comparing the flavor to the one you grew up on or the one you were used to for years.

Reset your palate

A great way to lose the craving for one food and start enjoying another is by “resetting” our palates. To further understand this, I recommend that you will do a small 3 stage experiment at home, around fruits and sugar:
Stage 1: Eat an apple (the sweet kind), and try to savor its taste – try to take a note of how sweet it is and how much you enjoyed it on a scale from one to ten.
Stage 2: “Reset” your palate. In order to reset your plate in terms of sweet flavors, avoid all types of sugary foods and all foods that contain refined sugars, all together, for 30 days (that includes drinks that contain sugar, ready meals that contain sugar, all products that list on the ingredients list sugar, brown sugar, cane juice sugar, caramel, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, and the likes).
Stage 3: Eat an apple again, and you will notice how sweet it suddenly tastes, and how much better you are now enjoying it. Your palate has not only “made room” for the mild sweetness of the apple to take its affect, but you are now also not craving sugary foods as you did before. HOWEVER, go back to sugary foods and your sensitivity to the mild flavors will go down again, together with your genuine enjoyment of the naturally sweet fruit.

Try this same experiment by removing milk and dairy products (and all products containing casein, lactose, and whey) for a minimum of 30 days, and you will find that the same thing will probably happen: your palate will “reset”, your cravings for milk, cheese and dairy products will decline, and you will be able to enjoy the plant based alternatives much more.  

Who likes Sushi?

Acquired taste is another thing to take into consideration. There is a reason why nutritionists advise parents to have their child try the same fruit or veg that they don’t like at least 8-10 times before they give up on it. Getting used to new flavors can take time. I know many adults that hated the taste of sushi (it was really the sea weed) when they first tried it and now consider it one of their favorite foods. I’m sure you can think of foods that you once hated and now adore too.

The more we try something, the more we are inclined to like it. This is the same with plant based milks and other plant based dairy alternatives.

Not all plant based products are nice

And last but not least, you also need to keep in mind that there are so many different varieties and brands of plant based milks out there, that sometime it’s just a matter of finding the one that’s right for you. Out of all the plant based milks that exist (almond milk, soy milk, spelt milk, hazel nut milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, hemp milk etc) and the different ways the different brands produce them, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before you’ll find one to fall for. 

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More Q&A with The Vegan Woman? 

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The Vegan Woman Answers: Eggs, Carbs and the Vegan vs. Paleo Diet


Sivan Pardo Renwick

Founder, Director and Chief Editor of The Vegan Woman

Sivan is the founder, director, and chief editor of The Vegan Woman. As a vegan lifestyle expert and public speaker, Sivan leads interactive workshops and online communities that help men and women make the transition into veganism and plant-based diets an enjoyable and uplifting journey.

Sivan is also a writer and contributor on various vegan-living topics, and has been featured on CNN’s Eatocracy, Vegan Weddings HQ, Vegan Views, Vegan Lifestyle magazine, and other national and international platforms.

More about: Sivan