If you are one of the many people who have difficulty digesting lactose, or if you are a vegan who doesn’t wish to consume animal products, there are several milk alternatives available to you at your local supermarket which do not contain dairy.
These non-dairy milks are made by either blending or soaking (or a combination of both) the main ingredient with water, followed by straining the resulting liquid out to produce a form of milk. One downside to this process is that it can create a fair amount of food waste as the leftover pulp is usually discarded. If you choose to make any of the milks listed below at home you can of course reuse the pulp.
Soy milk is considered to be the best alternative to cow’s milk as it replicates the nutrient content of milk. It is also the highest in protein of all the milk alternatives listed here and provides the same amount of calories per cup as standard milk.
On the flip side soy is known to have a few disadvantages, such as its phytoestrogen content. Plant foods such as grains, seeds and beans all naturally contain phytoestrogens. It is thought to affect the breakdown and production of estrogen by the body. Currently there is a poor understanding of exactly how they work in the body, so it’s best to keep soy milk intake moderate. One 250 ml glass a day is fine.
With half the protein content of cow’s milk, oat milk provides comparable levels of fat and calcium, making it a good milk alternative. As it has a relatively high sugar content, again it should be consumed in moderation.
Third on the list is the very tasty rice milk, which contains comparable fat and calories but only small amounts of protein and calcium. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, be sure to top up your calcium and protein intake through other foods you consume.
Almond milk is a popular milk alternative, containing less than half the calories per cup of cow’s milk. Another great reason to try almond milk is its low saturated fat content. It also contains no sugar!
Coconut milk does not contain any protein and is high in saturated fat. Despite this, it has very little sugar and can provide a creamier texture that many other milk alternatives.
Quinoa milk is a great choice as it contains very little sugar or fat. Unfortunately it also contains only small amount of protein, so you may want to choose another plant milk if you want increase your protein intake.
Hemp milk is a little more difficult to find than other milk alternatives listed here, but if you can find it, it’s a great source of unsaturated fats, which are generally lacking in the standard Western diet.
Whichever plant milk you end up choosing, make sure you like the taste of it! All of the milks listed above can be found in unflavoured and unsweetened varieties.