While often hereditary, lactose intolerance can strike at any age – at birth, during childhood, and even later in life. So how do those with this condition experience the ooey gooey goodness of a grilled cheese sandwich or slay a slice of pizza? Discover how to cultivate a love of cheese while living with lactose intolerance with Vevan’s lactose-free cheese and recipes! 

What is lactose intolerance?

People avoid and reduce dairy for a wide variety of reasons, from an allergy to an aversion to a deliberate decision or diet. Lactose intolerance can be misunderstood, but from a medical perspective, it’s the inability to properly digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and most dairy products.

In short, one’s small intestine does not make enough of a digestive enzyme called lactase to break down lactose in food and allow the body to absorb it. Recent studies show many adults experience a decrease in their lactase enzyme production as they age, leading to intolerance. As a result, a variety of unpleasant symptoms can occur, including:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Belly pains
  • Diarrhea

Intolerance to lactose can also vary in degree, with some people able to consume small amounts of dairy, approximately one cup of dairy milk or 12 grams a day split into servings, with little to no issue. Others benefit from taking dairy pills to help with lactose digestion. Still, some need to avoid dairy completely to avoid negative side effects. Where does this leave cheese lovers? 

What foods to avoid with lactose intolerance

Cheese lovers facing lactose intolerance have traditionally been limited in their options. In addition to forgoing foods like cream, ice cream, butter, yogurt, milk chocolate, and any animal’s milk, they are forced to avoid cheese and its starring role in many beloved recipes (naming them all here would be cruel)! 

However, it’s worth noting that as dairy cheese ages, its lactose levels decrease. As such, aged, hard cheeses like Parmesan, Swiss, and cheddar can often be tolerated. On the opposite end of the spectrum, soft cheeses and spreads like mozzarella, Brie, and cottage cheese contain higher levels of lactose and are highly likely to irritate the stomach of those dealing with dairy intolerance. 

Similarly, fermented products like Kefir and certain yogurts with probiotics, which contain live cultures, are shown to better break down lactose, making it easier to digest. 

Still, with so many popular foods containing dairy, it can be incredibly frustrating to prepare and select foods that don’t contain ingredients that cause the unpleasant side effects of lactose intolerance. 

What foods to embrace with lactose intolerance

Now that we have the no-no list out of the way, dairy-free diets, i.e. lactose-free diets, can include meat, poultry, fish, produce and alternative milk versions of the products named above. Plant-based and flexitarian eating is rich in foods that are friendly to those with lactose intolerance. 

And the best news of all? Cheese lovers with dairy restrictions can enjoy our entire line of Vevan products, made with plant milk! In addition to being 0% dairy and 100% awesome, Vevan cheeses are crafted by seasoned artisan cheesemakers using high-quality ingredients as reflected on our labels: vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, preservative-free, soy-free, and includes probiotics. 

Swap your favorite sliced cheeses with Vevan Melts on your favorite sandwiches. Sprinkle some Shred on salads and pasta dishes. Smother your bagels in one of three amazing UnCreamCheese flavors. And explore some of our top, tried-and-true recipes like: 

  • Crunchy Vegan Taco Wrap – level up your Taco Tuesday with layers of melted cheddar magic, the dairy-free way! Pro tip: spice things up when you substitute our P’Jack-Shred, the perfect peppery zing to make your tastebuds sing!
  • Savory Vegan Mac-n-Cheese – keep this go-to comfort food in the rotation, sure to please even the pickiest of eaters! Or try this dairy-free cheese sauce on any of your favorite pastas. 
  • Vegan Charcuterie Board – get the party started and make sure it doesn’t end with lactose intolerance. This dairy-free version is super versatile and ensures all guests can get on board with a wide array of cheesy choices. 
  • Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites – yes, you read that right – enjoy the smooth, creamy decadence of a cheesecake or a slew of other sweet treat options, all friendly dessert options for those who’ve ditched dairy. 

Looking for more choices? Our Vevan cheese-lovin’ cookbook offers even more worry-free, lactose-free recipes to delight both your palate and digestive system. Download it now

Lactose intolerance + cheese = Vevan

If you suspect you may have lactose intolerance, be sure to connect with your doctor to discuss how best to manage it. While there is no cure for this condition, you can rest assured that Vevan’s got you covered when it comes to avoiding gut issues and discomfort while embracing cheesy perfection.

We think our recipes are pretty easy to digest, but we’re here for your fresh lactose-free dish ideas! Inspire us all by sharing them and tagging us @vevan.foods on Instagram.