Acne is no fun and most teenagers have some experience of it. It’s caused by hormonal changes but it can affect adults too.

Dairy products can cause or make it worse. Vegan actor Woody Harrelson describes how when he was about 24 years old and he had tons of acne and a runny nose until a stranger on a bus told him to quit dairy and all the symptoms would be gone in three days. She was right and he’s never looked back.

Most milk in the UK is taken from pregnant cows whose milk is packed full of hormones designed to make their young calves grow, grow, grow! These hormones can act on the skin and trigger acne. This is why body builders who use hormones and milk-based (whey) protein supplements to make their muscles bulge are more prone to acne.

To help treat or avoid acne, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, include wholegrains and pulses in your meals, eat less processed and sugary foods and stay away from cow’s milk and dairy products. Find out what you need to eat each day here.

Find out more about acne: White Lies - Acne and Milk – spot on!

And here's our guide on how to go dairy-free.



A varied diet based on the foods in the table below ensures adequate intake of all essential nutrients and many more beneficial ones such as antioxidants. A healthy vegan diet is one consisting mainly of fruit and vegetables, pulses, wholegrains and nuts and seeds. It provides the body with all it needs and the only vitamin required to be supplemented is vitamin B12. It can be taken either in the form of food supplements or enriched foods, such as plant milks or margarines. B12 supplementation is not only recommended to vegans but to everyone over the age of 50, regardless of the diet, as the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin declines with age.

Over the winter months, vitamin D supplementation is also recommended to everyone in the UK. Not all vitamin D is vegan though - vitamin D2 is and some vitamin D3 can be too but make sure you know the source (most vitamin D3 is animal derived).

To ensure sufficient intake of essential omega-3 fats, natural sources should be made part of a daily diet – milled flaxseed (linseed) or hempseed and their oils for cold food preparation, rapeseed oil for cooking and some nuts and seeds as a healthy addition to meals – eg walnuts and chia seeds.

Veronika has a look at the science and finds that acne and dairy go hand in hand.