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Daiya: Creating Vegan Options for the Dairy-Lover in All of Us

Daiya: Creating Vegan Options for the Dairy-Lover in All of Us


Ok, I’ll admit that I am not a true “dairy lover” and am not a big fan of a lot of the dairy-based products that are out there. And while this probably has a lot to do with the way eating dairy makes me feel (ie, not good!), I was never one of those people who felt like I was “addicted” to milk or cheese or other dairy-based foods (although I am definitely a sucker for some good frozen yogurt!).

However, I do understand why so many people are against giving up dairy, mainly due to their obsession with pizza, lasagna, nachos, and other cheese-filled comfort foods. I mean, they are called ‘comfort foods’ for a reason! And the worst part of all, many people are willing to just put up with all of the discomforts that these foods give them, because they are basically addicted to them and can’t see their lives without them.

Thankfully there are companies like Daiya that understand what it’s like to be lactose-intolerant but still be dairy obsessed! Just take one bite of their many dairy-inspired foods and you will taste what I mean.

THE PRODUCT: Daiya (pronounced “day-ah” as in “have a nice Daiya!”) arose from a play on the words ‘dairy’ and ‘Dayaa’ which is Sanskrit for “loving, kindness, and compassion”. With their vision being to embrace their love of food, commitment to kind living, and compassion for people and planet, the creators of Daiya, long time friends and vegans, began their quest to produce a bubbly, stretchy, and vegan answer to dairy cheese back in 2007. Two years later, Daiya Cheddar Style and Mozzarella Style Shreds debuted, and the dairy-free cheese category was changed forever.

Since 2009, Daiya has gone on to produce 3 flavors each of Shreds, Wedges, Slices and Cream Cheese, and 4 different flavors of pizza, helping to define a whole new level of enjoyment for dairy-free living.

NUTRITION-WISE: Producing a whole line of dairy-free cheese options, Daiya prides itself in using the highest quality, naturally occurring ingredients possible. They also make it a point to get a non-GMO statement from all of their vendors and suppliers before working with Daiya, and that there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives used in any of their ingredients.

Certified Vegan, and of course dairy-free (including casein, whey, and lactose), Daiya also prides themselves in being free of soy and gluten, two of the other major allergens in today’s society. All of their products are also free of cholesterol, trans fats and MSG.

However, Daiya does use several controversial ingredients in their products, but combats the critics with explanations. These products include:

  • Palm oil: an essential ingredient in their blocks and slices.  “It enables us to create the cheese-like texture of our products, which couldn’t be duplicated using another plant-based oil. This is because palm oil has very unique properties, making it solid at room temperature without hydrogenation. All of the palm oil we use is sourced from Brazil, which is not a natural habitat for orangutans. Our supplier, which is certified by EcoSocial and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), works with several independent farmers to replace slash and burn practices with a sustainable organic system. The company helps preserve forests surrounding the plantation by only planting oil palms in degraded areas.”
  • Canola oil: Daiya uses a non-GMO expeller pressed canola oil since expeller presses use pressure and not heat to extract the oil, and is commonly considered the healthiest extraction process for human consumption.  “We prefer to use this type of oil because it is low in saturated fats, is high in monounsaturated fat, and has a beneficial omega-3 fatty acid profile.”
  • Carrageenan: “We use carrageenan, also referred to as “Irish moss,” as a texturizer in our slices. It’s a natural carbohydrate that is extracted from seaweed. The form that we use is food-grade (undegraded) carrageenan, which forms a strong gel that contributes to the desired texture of our products.” 
  • Titanium dioxide: “We use Titanium dioxide, a naturally occurring mineral, to keep our products’ base color consistent. Our level of use is well below the international standard, as well as the FDA maximum level of 1%. Unlike the Titanium dioxide that is used in cosmetics, the form that is used in Daiya products is not a nano particle.  This ingredient is considered safe for human consumption by both the FDA and CFIA.

WHERE TO BUY: To find the store that carries Daiya products nearest you, please visit their Store Locator.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Although I do eat fish and eggs, on occasion, I basically consider myself a vegan (it’s easier to explain to people that way), and I truly enjoy the lifestyle that goes along with it. No, I don’t miss eating meat (I haven’t had red meat for almost 15 years now), and I don’t find a need to substitute things with fake, vegan-alternatives. This includes everything from ‘chicken-less chicken patties’ to yes, anything ‘cheese’ related.

With that said, I was pleasantly surprised when trying Daiya’s pizza for the first time. In the past, I would always make my own cheese-less version of pizza (although it is definitely more like a flatbread than an actual pizza). However, Daiya’s pizzas really do pull of the ‘pizza thing’ pretty well, from the way the cheese looks, to the way it smells, stretches, and even tastes. And while a pizza connoisseur would probably know the difference, I’m sure they would enjoy it all the same.

I’m also a big fan of Daiya’s Shreds, especially the Pepperjack flavor. With a nice subtle kick and, again, the smell and texture of actual cheese, I can “fool” those closest to me without making them feel like they are missing out.

*I personally feel that the majority of people have at least some sort-of intolerance to dairy and would do best if they cut it from their diets completely. This is especially true for young children, as they don’t have the bodily enzymes to break it down – hence the reasons for gas, bloating, etc.

Daiya was made especially for this reason, so adults and kids alike won’t feel deprived from their favorite snacks and treats, but won’t have to deal with all the negative side effects from eating them either. Non-GMO and preservative free, I have no issues giving Daiya foods to my little ones, although it’s not going to be an everyday occurrence. [I say this because I really do try to feed my family with the most minimally processed foods as possible, and reserve these types of foods for “special” occasions – or nights where I am just scrambling to get food on the table ;) ].

To learn more about Daiya and to try their products out for yourself, please visit their website and check them out on Facebook.

And remember, Contact Healthy.Fit.Fab…Moms today to create a personalized plan so you and your family can live a healthy, fit, and fabulous life!



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