In the age of increasing plant-based diets and a substantial movement away from dairy, many people are confused on what milk alternative is best for their needs and preferences. Not only are many people stepping away from dairy for environmental reasons, the population is more aware of the impact dairy can have on our bodies:
- An estimated 65% of the world's population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, which is the sugar found in milk.
- Dietary restrictions have played a massive role in the movement away from dairy. It is estimated veganism will grow by 327% by 2020!
- The treatment of animals in the dairy industry has discouraged some people from drinking cow's milk.
Here's a list of the most popular milk alternatives:
This milk is popular with coffee lovers and contains great nutrients as well. It is derived from soybeans or soy protein isolate and typically has a mild, creamy flavour which varies across certain brands.
One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened soy milk contains around 80–90 calories, around four grams of fat, seven or so grams of protein and four grams of carbohydrates. Therefore, unlike some other options, soya milk packs a good amount of protein, much like cow's milk! Yet unlike cow's milk, soya milk only has half the amount of calories, fats and carbs.
What's it good for? Savoury products such as coffee and cereal all work well with the substitute. Those who are after more protein can also benefit from this milk.
What's bad about it? It has been suggested that an excessive amount of soy milk can in fact cause problems with our hormones, affecting oestrogen receptors in the body.
Made from a simple combination of oats and water, this milk is known for its creamy, full flavour. Be aware though, many companies do add oils and salt to create this effect.
One cup (240 ml) contains 140–170 calories, around four and a half grams of fat, between 2.5–5 grams of protein and 19–29 grams of carbohydrates. It contains a similar amount of calories to cow's milk and is high in fibre.
Oat milk is recommended to those wanting to lower their cholesterol, due to its high volumes of beta-gluten which binds to cholesterol, reducing its absorption in the body.
What's it good for? Coffee, it's cheap, can be easily made at home, and has some health benefits. It's also said to keep you fuller for longer!
What's bad about it? Due to its high carb content, it wouldn't be the best option for those on a low-carb diet.
Made with either whole almonds or almond extract/butter and water, this milk is sweet and has a mild nutty flavour!
One cup (240 ml) of unsweetened almond milk contains 30–35 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, one gram of protein and 1–2 grams of carbohydrates. It contains less than a quarter of the calories that regular cow's milk contains as well as half the fat. It does however, lack protein in comparison.
What's it good for? Almonds contain a high concentration of Vitamin E. Alongside this, being so low in calories means this milk is perfect for those dieting and wanting a light, refreshing milk substitute.
What's bad about it? Almond milk has recently come under scrutiny for not being vegan due to the needs of almonds relying on honey bees. This mean strict vegans wouldn't be able to take advantage of this milk. On top of this, its lack of protein could possibly mean it wouldn't be the greatest option for bodybuilders who want a substantial amount of protein daily.
There are many more milks available on the shelves such as hemp, coconut and flax, and each have their own unique flavour and use.
Let us know what kind of milk alternative is your favourite, and how you find them in comparison to cow's milk!