Vegetarian Starter Kit

The Physicians Committee

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Vegetarian Recipes and Recipe of the Week

What About Milk?


  • Calcium: Green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, are better than milk as calcium sources.
  • Fat Content*: Dairy products—other than skim varieties—are high in fat, as a percentage of total calories.
  • Iron-Deficiency: Milk is very low in iron. To get the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance of 11 milligrams of iron, an infant would have to drink more than 22 quarts of milk each day. Milk also causes blood loss from the intestinal tract, depleting the body’s iron.
  • Diabetes: In a study of 142 children with diabetes, 100 percent had high levels of an antibody to a cow’s milk protein. It is believed that these antibodies may destroy the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
  • Contaminants: Milk is frequently contaminated with antibiotics and excess vitamin D. In one study of 42 milk samples tested, only 12 percent were within the expected range of vitamin D content. Of ten samples of infant formula, seven had more than twice the vitamin D content reported on the label, and one had more than four times the label amount.
  • Lactose: Three out of four people from around the world, including an estimated 25 percent of individuals in the United States, are unable to digest the milk sugar lactose, which then causes diarrhea and gas. The lactose sugar, when it is digested, releases galactose, a simple sugar that is linked to ovarian cancer and cataracts.
  • Allergies: Milk is one of the most common causes of food allergy. Often the symptoms are subtle and may not be attributed to milk for some time.
  • Colic: Milk proteins can cause colic, a digestive upset that bothers one in five infants. Milk-drinking mothers can also pass cow’s milk proteins to their breast-feeding infants.


based on percentage of calories from fat


 Fat Percentage



Cheddar cheese


Whole milk


“2%” milk


* It is 2% fat only by weight.



Ideas for Delicious Dairy-Free Dining

If you are curious whether dairy foods are contributing to your allergies, skin problems, asthma, stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, or constipation, or you’d like to see how your body feels when it is dairy-free, just give it a try for three weeks. It takes about three weeks to break or create a habit. And in that short time, many people experience major benefits, such as a drop in blood cholesterol levels, weight loss, relief from allergies, asthma, indigestion, or chronic stomach problems. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:

  • Top your oats or cold cereal with fortified rice or almond milk.
  • Make smoothies with enriched vanilla soymilk or drink an ice cold glass of your favorite soymilk with your meal or snack.
  • “Leave off the cheese, please.” Order your entrée or salad with no cheese. Many dishes can be easily made cheese-free. Ask for guacamole, rice, or extra salsa in your burrito or on your tostada instead of the cheese. Put more vegetables on a dinner salad or add some beans, nuts, or baked tofu chunks instead of cheese.
  • Most recipes calling for milk can be made with soymilk instead. If it’s a soup or other savory dish, be sure to purchase plain soymilk for cooking.
  • Make creamy dips and desserts using silken tofu in place of sour cream or cream cheese.
  • Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn or pasta for a cheesy flavor instead of parmesan.


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