Trying to get away from cow’s milk? Not sure what are your vegan milk alternatives?
With so many milk substitutes popping in the market right now, which of these are actually best for you? Many people are now considering non-dairy alternatives for a variety of reasons. For some it has become mandatory due to lactose intolerance.
Still, others have made the switch as they are looking to incorporate healthy plant-based milk in their diets. Fortunately, there are already plenty of healthy vegan milk options available now.
This article lists 11 of the best vegan milk alternatives that are absolutely worth-trying – some of which you can easily make on your own!
A Growing Population Are Now Ditching Cow’s Milk
It seems that the appeal of the traditional cow’s milk has already curdled. Based on the data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans are now drinking lesser cow’s milk than they used to in the past.
Notably, dairy allergies are on the rise, with 50 million Americans suffering from lactose intolerance according to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Even for those who have no issues in drinking cow’s milk, it seems that plant-based milk substitute has dramatically gained popularity – and for good reasons.
To read more about all the reasons you should not drink/eat dairy, including cow’s milk click here.
Why Is Choosing Vegan Milk Good for You?
Many individuals opt to stay away from dairy milk due to lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. The common symptoms of this fairly common condition are abdominal pains, diarrhea, nausea, and bloating.
Vegan milk offers the perfect substitute to cow’s milk for individuals that are lactose-intolerants. Remarkably, more people are also realizing now that cow’s milk is simply not the healthiest and wisest choice of milk there is.
There are many factors at play that contributes to the decline of cow’s milk consumption. This includes the growing concern about the use of GMO’s among cows to increase their milk production and the increase in awareness of the environmental impact of raising cows for the dairy industry.
They also boast a broad nutritional profile similar to cow’s milk, with some even exceeding cow’s milk nutritional contents. And, with a lot of options available, drinking milk has never been better and healthier with vegan milk.
Going for Vegan Milk? Here are Important Things to Consider
Whether you are dealing with dairy allergies or you are just in for the health benefits that vegan milk has to offer, it is important to consider the nutritional contents of the different types of non-dairy milk substitutes.
In some cases, some of these milk alternatives may not be suitable for every individual’s lifestyle and nutritional requirements.
Additionally, you may also need to watch out for certain food allergies such as gluten, nut and soy allergies.
Should you go for vegan milk alternatives, it is best to choose those that have minimal to no amount of additives, thickeners, fillers and synthetic flavor enhancers and sweeteners. Consider looking for GMO-free, organic varieties that are free from toxins and offer more natural health benefits for your body.
11 Best Vegan Milk Alternatives You Should Give a Try
Are you looking for healthy and tasty vegan milk substitutes? Here are 11 of the best vegan milk alternatives you should not miss. Plus, find out how you can easily make some of them at the comfort of your home.
1. Almond Milk:
Almond milk is one of the most popular vegan milk substitutes. Data from Nielsen show that almond milk is now America’s favorite milk.
Not only does it boast a broad nutritional profile, it also has a delightfully sweet and nutty flavor and it blends well into just about anything. It is a rich source of calcium, Vitamins D and E, and is low in calories.
Because almond milk is already strained and is typically made from blanched skinless almond nuts, it is not an exceptional source of fiber and a significant portion of its natural antioxidants are already removed.
Almond milk also contains relatively low amount of protein, so you may want to pair it with protein-rich vegan foods such as chia seeds and hemp seeds.
Make Your Own
Making your own almond milk at home is easy. All you need is a blender, a cup of almonds and water. To start with, soak the almonds in water overnight.
By soaking the almonds, its skin is softened allowing it to peel off easily when you rinse the almonds. Then, put the skinless almonds in a blender with two cups of water. Blend well until smooth.
Lastly, strain the mixture using a cheesecloth or nut milk bag to remove the solid particles. Add sweetener if desired, and enjoy.
2. Soy Milk:
Soy milk is one of the widely used plant milk substitute. You can find it easily in supermarkets and health food stores.
The closest non-dairy cow’s milk substitute in terms of nutrition, a cup of soy milk provides 7 grams of protein and also provides all the essential amino acids. Aside from being rich in protein, soy milk also contains ample amounts of calcium, fiber, iron and B-complex vitamins.
However, not all individuals may be a fan of the unflavored soy milk’s taste. While there are flavored options available, you should be weary of high sugar content which is bad for your health.
Too much soy milk is also associated to soy allergies, gas pains, thyroid disorders and reproductive system problems. So, like in most foods, drink soy milk in moderation and opt for unsweetened soy milk to avoid too much sugar.
Coconut milk is not only big in nutrition, it is also creamy and has a mild natural sweetness making it great for desserts and curries.
However, consuming coconut milk in excessive amounts can lead to weight gain. If you are also suffering from tree nut allergies, you should avoid coconut milk.
You will also have to limit your coconut milk intake if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease as its high level of cholesterol can cause blockage in coronary arteries.
Make Your Own
Coconut milk sold in containers with BPA is linked to certain health concerns. So, why not make your own coconut milk at home?
Simply combine freshly chopped coconut meat with water. Blend well until you get a smooth, thick liquid. Use cheesecloth to strain the milk. Store in your refrigerator and consume within 3 to 4 days.
4. Rice Milk:
Rice milk is a great vegan milk substitute especially for those who have allergies to gluten, nuts and soy. It has a naturally sweet and mild taste and costs cheaper compared to most other dairy-free milks.
Rice milk boasts of its healthy blend of protein and carbohydrates. It also contains less fat and is a good source of vitamins A, B and D as well as manganese and selenium which are known as powerful antioxidants.
Due to its low calcium and protein content, rice milk may not be suitable for people that require higher protein and calcium in their diet.
It is also high in glycemic index, at a GI of 79 to 92, and is not the best option if you are trying to watch out for your sugar level.
Make Your Own
Although rice milk is widely available, you can easily make it on your own. To make a delicious rice milk, you will only need a blender, rice, water, and if desired you can add your favorite sweetener too.
It is best to use brown rice as it is more nutritious than white rice. Simply combine ½ cup of cooked brown rice and 2 cups of water. Blend well until smooth.
Strain the mixture and store in your refrigerator for a cold refreshing rice milk drink.
5. Flax Milk:
Thanks to flax seeds’ wealth of natural fiber content, flax milk has the lowest calories among non-dairy milk and is excellent if you want to lose weight.
It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, lignin an anti-cancer organic substance, and vitamins A, B12 and D. What’s more? Flax milk has an outstanding taste making it perfect when blended with smoothies.
Although it has as much calcium as Califia Farms Pure Almondmilk, flax milk does not have a sufficient amount of protein. Additionally, flax seeds can slow down blood clotting.
If you have a bleeding disorder, it is best to avoid it. You must also drink flax milk with caution if you have a hormone-sensitive condition as flax is believed to affect hormone levels.
Now, let’s take a break from reading and let’s watch the video below, which will provide you with some further information on non-dairy milk.
6. Cashew Milk:
A powerhouse when it comes to B vitamins, iron, magnesium and vitamin K, cashew milk is a healthier alternative to cow’s milk.
With its nutty and mildly buttery taste, it is one of the best tasting vegan milk that works great as an alternative coffee creamer, for thickening smoothies and as an excellent pair to cereals.
Cashew milk is not advisable for people dealing with nuts allergies. It also lacks significant amount of calcium and protein unless you choose commercially available cashew milk that are already fortified with vitamins and minerals.
If you go for commercially sold cashew milk, however, you must also watch out for those with high sugar and sodium content.
Make Your Own
Cashew milk is one of the easiest vegan milk you can make on your own. To start with, you need to soak the cashew nuts in water overnight.
Drain and rinse the nuts. Combine ¾ cup of cashews to 3 cups of water. Blend in high speed for about 2 minutes. Add sweetener or vanilla if desired.
Strain milk with a fine mesh strainer. Store in your refrigerator and consume within 3 to 4 days.
7. Hazelnut Milk:
An amazing plant-based cow’s milk alternative, hazelnut has a remarkably delicious sweet and nutty taste. It is low in calories, rich in dietary fiber and essential fatty acids that promote heart health.
However, if you require higher amount of protein in your diet, hazelnut milk may not be the best option for you as it contains relatively lower amount of protein.
Since it is also made from nuts, it is not recommended for individuals who are allergic to nuts. Hazelnut milk is also a more expensive vegan milk substitute.
Make Your Own
The good news is, you can easily make your own hazelnut milk at the comfort of your home.
First, allow the hazelnuts to soak in water for at least four hours. Drain and rinse well. Combine water and hazelnuts in a blender.
Add vanilla and salt for additional flavoring. Blend until smooth. Filter the mixture using a cheesecloth. Refrigerate and enjoy your own delicious hazelnut milk.
8. Hemp Milk:
Hemp milk is recently gaining attention as a viable vegan milk substitute. Hemp is an excellent source of protein which makes it great for athletes according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
It also contains high amounts of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and iron. It is low in saturated fats and contains vitamins and minerals that help improve cognitive performance and aid in skin care.
The main drawback of choosing hemp milk as a non-dairy substitute is its price. It is one of the most expensive dairy-free alternatives.
You also need to ensure that you choose unsweetened hemp milk, as most flavored hemp milk varieties contain high amount of sugar which means more calories and can lead to obesity.
Make Your Own
Fortunately, you can make homemade hemp milk easily. Simply mix one half cup of hemp seeds and about four cups of water in a blender.
Blend until smooth for around two minutes. Lastly, filter solid particles using a strainer. Keep in the fridge and consume within two to three days.
9. Pea Milk:
One of the recently known excellent non-dairy milk substitute is pea milk. With 8 grams of protein, pea milk boasts of its high protein content.
It is also packed with calcium, potassium, omega-3 and vitamin D. Pea milk is low in calories compared to cow’s milk and is low in saturated fats.
Organic and unsweetened pea milk has an earthier flavor. It may also leave a mildly bitter and chalky feel in the mouth which many people may dislike.
You can opt to choose the flavored varieties but be weary about extra sugars, gums and gels that are added to enhance the milk’s taste and texture.
10. Oat Milk:
Light, inexpensive and has a delectable naturally sweet flavor that makes a good choice if you want a non-dairy milk alternative.
It is high in soluble fiber which is good for healthy digestion, and is also rich in protein, iron, vitamins A and D, and folic acid. Oat milk helps promote good cholesterol level and is good for your heart.
Unfortunately, oats has gained negative connotations due to the pesticides associated in growing them.
Also, if you are allergic to gluten, it is best to avoid oat milk as it is prone to gluten cross contamination since most of the time oats are grown in the same fields as the wheat.
Oat milk also tends to contain more sugar and has higher calories compared to other non-dairy milk replacements.
Make Your Own
Oat milk is quick and easy to make. All you have to do is combine one cup of old-fashioned rolled oats and three cups of water into your blender.
Blend on high until you achieve a smooth consistency. Strain the milk using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Refrigerate to enjoy refreshing, chilled oat milk.
11. Macadamia Nut Milk:
It is packed with antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. It is also very low in calories which is great for those who are conscious about their calorie intake.
On the downside, macadamia nut milk is not a great source of calcium and is not suitable for infants or children. It is also low in protein content.
If you are allergic to nuts, you should definitely stay away from this milk. Excessive consumption of macadamia milk may also lead to constipation or diarrhea in some individuals.
Why Did I Stop Drinking Cow’s Milk Even Before I Was Vegan?
Before I became vegan, I would drink a big glass of organic fat-free cow’s milk every morning. I thought that I just needed it to strengthen my bones and fuel my body with all the essential nutrients, but I was so wrong.
The worst part was that I kept getting tonsilloliths or tonsil stones (white lumps in the back of my throat) and those tonsil stones caused me to have really bad breath and it was very humiliating.
I would even stand back a little whenever I was talking to someone because I was afraid they would smell my bad breath. I was very self-conscious about it to say the least.
Through doingg research, I learned that proteins in dairy products cause all the different bacteria, mucus, food particles, and other materials trapped inside the tonsils to harden.
And ever since I stopped drinking cow’s milk, I have never had a feeling of those stinky lumps in the back of my throat.
What Do I Drink Now?
I always buy Trader Joe’s organic unsweetened soy milk. I usually add a cup to blend it with my morning smoothie. It tastes really good!
Trader Joe’s Soy Milk – Organic Unsweetened
– Non-dairy beverage
– 50 mg soy isoflavones per serving
– Excellent source of calcium & vitamin D
– Lactose & dairy free
– Gluten free
– Use within 7 to 10 days after opening
– Keep refrigerated
Filtered water, organic whole soybeans, calcium carbonate, sea salt, natural flavors, carrageenan, vitamin A palmitate, ergocalciferol (vitamin d2), riboflavin (vitamin b2), cobalamin (vitamin b12).
There are several reasons why you may consider switching into vegan milk substitutes. Whatever your reasons are, thanks to the growing array of plant-based milk alternatives, avoiding dairy has never been this easier.
Overall, choosing milk is more of a personal preference. Take advantage of the ever-expanding vegan milk options and find the one that is best for you.
What is your favorite vegan milk? Are there any other cow’s milk alternative I missed? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform!