Butter. The easiest change for us was switching to non-dairy butter. A delicious one is made by the company Earth Balance. It is something like margarine, but without all the bad stuff (and margarine is not dairy free). Earth Balance has no hydrogenated oils, preservatives or emulsifiers found in most margarine and other butter alternatives. It is made with a “proprietary blend of expeller-pressed natural oils, contains ALA Omega-3s and soy protein”. I use the “vegan buttery sticks” just like sticks of butter. It also comes in a spreadable container to put on toast. To me it tastes and acts exactly the same as butter or margarine. You can find this product at mainline grocery stores like Safeway and Giant, as well as organic markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Next time you run out of butter, why not give this a try? Not only is it a better choice for the planet, it might be a healthier choice too. A recent study funded by the butter industry found that moderate use of butter raised cholesterol levels. Most studies funded by the industry do not turn out to have negative results, so this one can be taken a bit more seriously!
Sour cream. I love to use sour cream with Mexican dishes and in spicy soups/chili and of course on baked potatoes. I still enjoy sour cream, but now have it dairy free. The store brand I have tried the most (and can be found in regular stores or organic markets) is Tofutti. It costs a little more than dairy based sour cream, so a make-your-own recipe is tofu based sour cream or cashew based sour cream.
Mayonnaise. Surprisingly, there are a number of store brand plant based mayonnaises, even Hellman’s! Normally mayonnaise is made with egg; these substitutes use oils instead. I have used Veganaise with good results, but I found that in a vegan taste test the brand Just Mayo won! If you would like to try making your own version, I found a couple of recipes that do not look too hard.
Yogurt. Non-dairy yogurt can be made with any non-dairy milk, so if you have tried making your own yogurt with cow’s milk, it should be easy to make it with a substitute. There are also several store brands I have tried, and most often I can find the SO Delicious brand. Like any other yogurt, you need to watch the sugar content, so plain is usually best for that.