Inspired By Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar Speech? Here Are the Best Vegan Substitutes for Dairy

We all knew that Joaquin Phoenix was going to win the Oscar last night for his incredible performance in Joker. And we also knew that, being the brilliant activist he is, he would use his speech to bring attention to critical issues facing humanity.

What we didn’t know is that he would make a passionate plea about the commonality of oppression that included animals rights; and that he would specifically call out the cruelty involved in dairy production.

It was truly an Oscar speech that will remembered for years to come.

So, if you’re someone who watched Phoenix’s speech and you’re inspired to make some changes to your diet, I have news for you: It’s not as hard as you think. Plant-based alternatives to dairy are everywhere these days and they taste GREAT! Not only that, they are healthier for you, better for the environment, and don’t require cows to be exploited, abused, and eventually slaughtered.

I’ve been a vegan for 13 years and I’ve tried all the vegan versions of the dairy products I grew up eating. In my humble opinion, these are the best ones on the market. Try them and ditch dairy for good just like Joaquin Phoenix did.


I thought I’d just get this over with since it’s something I hear from people again and again and again: “I can’t give up cheese!!” Gurl, you don’t have to. You can just switch to vegan versions of cheese that are amazing.

For vegan cheese slices, look for these Chao cheeses by Field Roast, the slices by Follow Your Heart, or the ones by Violife. All of these are excellent and some are truly indistinguishable from dairy.

For fancy cheeseboard style wedges, the gold standard is Miyoko’s. The Black Ash and Sharp Farmhouse are my favorite flavors, but honestly they’re all incredible. Also, try her vegan mozzarella for pizza – it’s ridiculous!

For cream cheese, Kite Hill and Violife make the best. Kite Hill is easier to come by though. You can definitely find it at Whole Foods, but even some traditional supermarkets carry this brand.

The parmesan by Follow Your Heart is the best vegan parm on the market. You can find it at Whole Foods or even at your local market.

There are many versions of vegan cheese shreds out there. Some are truly dreadful and I’m sorry – the Trader Joe’s shredded mozzarella is an atrocity – STAY AWAY! The Violife shreds are pretty solid though. Also, even though it’s controversial, I like Daiya’s “Cutting Board” shreds – they’re pretty widely available too.


Fluid milk consumption has actually been declining in the United States since the 1970s. But people still love a slosh in their morning coffee or cereal. The best stuff around these days is oat milk – and Oatly is hands down the BEST! Look for their barista blend, but if you can’t find it just use the regular carton. Seriously, after decades of refusing to give up milk, one of my best friends finally switched because of this stuff.


The vegan butter by Miyoko’s is one of my favorite things in life! You can find it at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even some traditional supermarkets. The stuff by Earth Balance is pretty good too – but the Miyoko’s butter is better.


There’s a shit ton of vegan yogurt out there nowadays. Try them all and find your favorites. The two I like best are the cashew-based yogurts by Forager (I’m obsessed with the vanilla flavor) and the almond-based yogurt by Silk. Both are fantastic! I’ll give an honorable mention to Kite Hill yogurt here too.

Ice Cream

Just like yogurt, there’s a ton of vegan ice cream available and most are EXCELLENT! You will not be able to even tell the difference. Popular brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Häagen-Dazs, and Breyer’s all do non-dairy versions. My absolute favorites are the vegan ice creams by Ben & Jerry’s – the Coconut Seven Layer Bar and Caramel Almond Brittle – OMG!! Also, Target makes a vegan ice cream under their Archer Farms brand called Vanilla Cake and Cookie Dough that will make your toes curl. I cannot have it in the house.

Sour Cream

I feel like vegan sour cream is a little harder to come by but it can be found! The best I’ve tried has been the sour cream by Follow Your Heart. There are also endless recipes online for vegan sour cream that are easy to make and much healthier than dairy.

Mac & Cheese, Pasta Alfredo, etc.

Yes, I made this!

Google recipes!! I swear there are incredible recipes out there that create creaminess from cashews, butternut squash, potatoes. Try this one I posted not too long ago to get started for vegan mac & cheese!

Trust me… you can do this! Good luck and hit me up on Twitter or in the comments if you have questions.