Have you been wanting to shift into eating healthier, but just can’t imagine life without dairy? I feel your pain.

Like you, I mourned the death my beloved cheese when I said goodbye to dairy-based milks and cheeses.

But my grief soon lifted upon discovering the surprisingly rich and creamy taste that nut-based varieties deliver. In fact, I realized I wasn’t missing anything. When done right, plant-based alternatives to your favorite dairy products will not only satisfy even the most traditional craving, they'll nourish your body with an array of nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, healthy fats and minerals without the hormones, antibiotics and casein that makes dairy problematic for so many people. The cows and goats will be happier, too.

Some of the greatest gifts of embracing a plant-based, dairy-free diet and lifestyle are the amazing culinary opportunities and adventures that await you in the world of nut milks, cheeses and sauces.

Even better? Recipe preparation is far simpler than you might imagine — we’re talking between five and 30 minutes tops.

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Consuming delicious nut nourishment is a delightful gift to your body temple. Nuts float through your digestive track. They leave you feeling energized and good inside about your food choice.

So which nuts are best?

Cashews, macadamia and Brazil nuts all make creamy, full-bodied milks, cheese, sauces, ice creams and sweets. Almonds are also great for a spectrum of milks and cheesy delights. But don’t forget the beloved seed family. Hemp, sunflower and sesame all provide viable options for those with nut allergies.

Remember to soak your nuts and seeds overnight in filtered water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt to increase their digestibility.

You can flavor your cheeses with fresh herbs, roots and spices. You can also make hard block cheese by adding a seaweed-based thickening agent called agar, or simply by hanging your cheese in cheesecloth and letting the moisture drain out overnight.

So say goodbye to dairy and hello to the best milks, cheeses and sauces of your life!

Here are six reasons you should go nuts for nuts:

1. Nuts are loaded with vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, and fiber.

2. Dairy is linked to allergies in many individuals.

3. Many people are lactose intolerant and cannot assimilate animal milk and cheese.

4. Dairy cows are often injected with antibiotics (violating regulations) to keep them healthy while living in cramped inhumane quarters. These antibiotics are passed into milks, cheese and butter.

5. Grass-fed and organic milk may not be what you think; these cows aren't roaming on the range like you may see on a fancy label. Many are abused, housed in cramped quarters living miserable lives. After the cows stop producing large enough yields of milk, they are slaughtered for the meat industry.

6. It takes 880 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk.

This unacceptable consumption has a huge footprint on our planet. Dairy isn’t just wasteful; it’s unsustainable.

Aren't these reasons enough to at least entertain a change? They were for my family.

Here's a recipe for my favorite hemp milk. I love this recipe because it's so easy to make. The hemp seeds are so small that you can skip straining it.

Hemp Milk

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 large fancy date pitted and soaked.

Preparation

Add all the ingredients to a Vitamix or high-powered blender and process for a full minute.

There you have it! Milk that actually does do a body and our planet good!

For more nut milk, cheese and sauce recipes, check out my new book The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family, which I co-authored with my husband, ultra-athlete and MindBodyGreen contributor Rich Roll.

Photo Credit: Getty Images