Plant-based milk has become more popular these days. They are available in every supermarket and corner shop. Popular coffee chains offer hot beverages with soy milk, oat milk, almond milk and coconut milk as a replacement for cow's milk. I enjoy my morning coffee with unsweetened almond or soy milk every day, drink oat milk occasionally, and have tried most plant-based milk alternatives, looking for the perfect one!
Why do people buy more plant-based milk?
Lactose intolerance and milk allergy are among the main reasons why people head for plant-based milk. People who suffer from different diseases such as Crohn's and Colitis or inflammatory bowel syndrome cannot drink milk other than plant-based.
People who don't like the taste of cow's milk but like the creamy taste and consistency of coffee and tea also are among the customers looking for dairy-free options. In recent years, the vegan diet has become very trendy. Vegans do not consume any animal-based products, and that includes all kinds of dairy, for ethical reasons. Finally, there are more and more concerns over the quality of dairy products, with many of them possibly containing antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones harmful to humans.
Health & environment
The environmental impact of dairy farming is another serious concern. Animal agriculture is responsible for severe greenhouse gas emissions (18%) and land waste. In a recent study conducted at the University of Oxford, scientists compared the greenhouse gases from over 10,000 farms around the world that produce cow and plant-based milks. The researchers found that 9 times more land is needed to make 1 litre of dairy milk than a 1 litre of soy, oat, rice or almond milk.
Here's what you need to know about dairy-free milk alternatives.
What is plant-based milk made from?
Usually made from nuts, beans or seeds, plant-based milk can also be made from quite surprising ingredients. They all differ in ingredients, flavour, nutrition, ingredients, versatility, functionality and cost.
Types of plant-based milk available in the UK supermarkets: coconut, almond, soy, oat, pea, hemp, cashew, rice, Hazelnut, quinoa, macadamia, rice, flaxseed and potato milk! Yes! Potato milk!
Plant-based milks tend to have fewer calories, less protein (except for soy, flaxseed and pea milk), less fat (except for coconut milk), and more water (which is great for hydration). Some milk alternatives are fortified with other vitamins (such as B12, D etc.) and other nutrients.
How does 1 cup of plant-based milk compare to 1 cup of whole fat cow milk?
Oat milk has almost as many calories as cow milk (oat milk 130 - cow milk - 148). Rice, almond, soy, cashew, coconut and hemp are lower in calories.
Cow milk contains more fat than plant-based milk. Most plant-based milks have just between 25-63% of the fat of cow milk, except for hemp (8 g)
Almost all plant-based milks are lower in sugar. They contain less than 3g of sugar. Oat and Hazelnut have (17 g and 13 g). Cow milk has 12 g of sugar.
All plant-based milks are lower in protein except for soybean (9g), pea (8g), and flaxseed milk (8g). Cow's milk contains 8 g of protein.
Sodium, calcium and potassium
All plant-based milks have comparable sodium quantity as cow milk (105 mg). Just coconut milk is much lower (15 mg) in sodium.
Almond (560mg), pea (560mg), and flaxseed milk (450mg) contain more calcium than dairy milk (425 mg).
Pea milk contains more potassium (450 mg) than cow milk (322 mg). Soy is comparable (390 mg).
Soymilk is the most popular plant-based milk alternative and the closest to cow's milk. It contains all the essential amino acids. However, it's not a great option for those who suffer from allergies or food intolerance, as soy is one of the common allergens.
Cashew milk is a great option for those who care about calorie intake and don't like almond flavour. It is not the best option for those looking specifically for protein in a milk substitute.
Rice milk - in this case, the calories come mainly from carbs, making it a great option for those who do sports or fitness and also for those who suffer from nut and soy allergies.
Hemp milk is made from the whole seeds of the hemp plant. It is a healthy option; it contains complete proteins and all the essential amino acids. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Potato milk is made only from potatoes and offers exceptional creaminess and nutritional benefits (vitamin B12, riboflavin, and folic acid). It is a good option for those with allergies and the most sustainable milk alternative available in the shops.
Choose the best flavour for you and enjoy plant-based milk more often, whether straight in a glass or a smoothie. They can be a great milk alternative for coffee as many of them are also available as barista editions. They can be an excellent replacement for cooking, in soups, sauces, stews, and baking, for cakes and desserts. Just be aware that they may behave differently when heated and require more care.
You can also easily make plant milk in your very own kitchen. The best for home milk are oats, almonds, or other nuts, you just need a good food processor at home. Got milk!?