Who doesn’t love a good milkshake or smoothie?
A cold, creamy, savory or sweet drink that can be overly indulgent or enviously healthy! And so many flavor combinations that can satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Similarly, the elixir of life - coffee, or a nostalgic bowl of cereal is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Unfortunately too many people are robbed of these delicious treats because, for whatever reason milk is (literally and figuratively) off the table!
Whether you avoid milk for ethical or health reasons or you simply want to reduce how many calories you consume, there are a number of alternatives that allow you to enjoy these tasty beverages.
Made from ground almonds and approximately 97% filtered water, almond milk will naturally be more watery than whole cow’s milk and have a nutty taste.
Due to the natural watery texture, brands may include starches and thickeners to resemble a similar consistency to whole milk.
Unsweetened almond milk is lower in calories (typically 30-50 calories per serving) compared to whole cow’s milk (150 calories per serving). However, of the milks on this list, almond milk does contain the least amount of protein.
Almond milk is naturally rich in vitamin E and can be commonly found to be fortified with extra nutrients such as calcium and vitamins A and D, to provide a similar nutrient profile to whole cow’s milk. This makes almond milk a helpful addition to healthy eating lifestyles to improve bones, immunity, nerve conduction and skin.
It is important to remember that almond milk is still sourced from nuts and therefore those who have nut allergies should abstain from consuming this milk alternative.
Unlike almond milk, coconut milk is not derived from nuts as coconuts are technically fruit! Therefore coconut milk should be a safe alternative for those with nut allergies.
As coconuts are higher in fat (as well as calories) compared to other alternatives on this list - coconut milk tends to have a creamier texture in comparison. Also, there is no need to fear the extra fat found in coconut milk as we now know that not all fats are created equal. Plant-based saturated fats like those found in coconuts are medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s) which can increase metabolic rate, help with weight loss and reduce cholesterol.
If helping your waistline isn’t enough, coconut milk is also rich in lauric acid and capric acid, two MCT that confer immune boosting properties. Adding coconut milk to your healthy eating lifestyle can be a great way to improve your ability to fight off infection and illness.
This milk is produced by soaking, grinding, boiling and filtering soybeans. Soy milk contains the highest protein content out of milk alternatives, with 7g compared to 8g in whole cow’s milk per cup serving, which is made even more desirable considering 1 cup of soy milk only yields 80 calories! Soy milk traditionally will have a thick and smooth mouthfeel with an off white appearance to resemble cow’s milk. Differing brands and preparation techniques will impact how much of the soy bean flavor is tasted in the end product.
Soy milk has received some unfair scrutiny recently as it is believed that soy consumption may lead to health issues. Fortunately, research shows that soy products may actually have beneficial effects on health - including improving cholesterol, male and female hormones and menopause symptoms.
Like all things in life and food - balance is key! As such, enjoying a glass or two of soy milk a day is unlikely to cause problems. However, if you are concerned about it, try organic soy milk to reduce the processing of the soybeans or try one of the other delicious alternatives on this list!
Whole oats, as like other cereal grains, are indigestible due to the hard, outer hull and so they undergo an extraction process similar to almond milk to make a liquid suitable for drinking. Oat milk is similar in total calories (120 calories) and does contain the most dietary fiber of any milk with 2g and has levels of calcium and potassium similar to cow’s milk. Like other milk alternatives, oat milk is often fortified with vitamins and minerals. Oat milk tastes similar to cow’s milk with an obvious oat-like aftertaste. It’s consistency is thicker compared to other milk on this list, like almond and rice milk. For those who choose to avoid cow’s milk due to the impact on the environment, should consider oat milk as it has a relatively low environmental impact due to its low water and land needs during production.
Rice milk is typically made from brown rice and brown rice syrup, and is commonly sweetened with sugar or sugar substitutes and flavorings like vanilla. Consequently, rice milk is sweet in flavor and like almond milk has a slightly watery consistency. As rice is predominantly carbohydrate rich, it is higher in carbohydrates and lower in fat and protein. To rectify this, rice milk is commonly fortified with protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron to improve the protein content and resemble a similar nutrient profile to cow’s milk.
Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic non-dairy milk, making it the safest bet for individuals who could be affected from nuts, gluten, soy and of course - dairy.
Whatever reason you may have for avoiding cow’s milk, there is no reason why you can’t have your milk (alternative) and drink it too. Milk has come a long way and we now have methods for everyone to be able to consume milk. Try these delicious options and decide which is the best for you and your lifestyle!