Dairy Allergies

Persons with dairy allergies or intolerances, as well as vegans, must find other foods to replace the nutrients provided by dairy products. Alternatives include liquid products as well as some cheese and yogurts.
Article Photo
Dairy alternatives aren’t natural sources of calcium, so add calcium to the diet.
  • Dairy allergy: If a dairy allergy has been medically diagnosed, no amount of dairy can be tolerated, as the allergy is to the protein in milk.
  • Lactose intolerance: Those who are lactose intolerant have difficulty digesting dairy's natural sugar, lactose. Once diagnosed by a medical doctor, lactose intolerance is manageable. Lactose-reduced liquid milk and some dairy foods may be tolerated, which means the important nutrients in dairy foods are still available.
  • Vegans: All animal foods are off limits.


  • For dairy allergies, check the label to be certain the product is dairy free.
  • Dairy alternatives aren’t natural sources of calcium, so add calcium to the diet (at least 20-30% of Daily Value stated on the Nutrition Facts Panel). Check for added Vitamin D.
  • Pay attention to added sweeteners, especially if you’re using a dairy alternative as an ingredient in a recipe where an unflavored ingredient would be the best choice.
  • There is fat in most of these alternatives, which is naturally found in beans (soy), grains or nuts. Fortunately, they’re heart-healthy fats.
  • Flavor differences may take some getting used to.
  • Soy beverage (made from soy beans) is readily available in the Giant Eagle® dairy case and in shelf-stable packaging.
    • Highest source of quality protein among the alternatives.
    • Good for cooking and drinking.
    • Calories range from 80 (light) to 140 calories, or slightly more if sweetener is added.
    • Most are fortified with calcium.
    • Yogurt and cheese made from soy are also available, and may also be gluten free.
  • Rice beverage is found with shelf-stable milk, but some supermarkets carry it in the refrigerated dairy case as well.
    • Contains 120-140 calories in one cup, with two to three grams of fat.
    • Usually lower in protein than soy choices and cow's milk; good choice for those allergic to soy or nuts.
    • Tends to be bland but easy to digest.
    • Most are gluten free.
  • Almond or hazelnut beverages (made from ground nuts) are found in the shelf-stable milk area.
    • Distinct taste.
    • Range of calories varies.  
    • Lower in protein compared to other alternatives, with a varying fat content.
    • Most are gluten free.

Dairy Alternatives

For more information on choices and uses, contact nutrition@gianteagle.com.

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Giant Eagle® and Market District®

Important Physician Advice Disclaimer: The content provided by Giant Eagle®, including but not limited to, web site, recipe and health information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician for professional guidance before changing or undertaking a new diet program. Advance consultation with your physician is particularly important if you are under the age of 18, pregnant, nursing, or have health problems.