Milk alternatives are becoming increasingly popular but which should you try? There’s such a wide selection, with different tastes and nutrients that it’s hard to know which one to go for. So to give you a hand we’ve put together a list of our favourite milk alternatives that we have everyday with our muesli.
Why should you go dairy-free?
There’s several reasons why non-dairy milks have become so popular. A big proportion is down to the rise of Veganism: the number of vegans in Britain rose 350% from 2006 to 2016. This has also led to a massive 185% increase in vegan products being launching in the UK. But why are so many people becoming vegan?
Aside from obvious ethical reasons, many people choose veganism for its health benefits and reduced environmental impact compared to a meat-eating diet. But, even if veganism isn’t for you milk alternatives still could be!
Non-dairy milks can be pretty nutritious and provide way more options in terms of flavour. They’re also thought to be better for the environment, as this chart from the BBC shows. Using the most resources of all the milks, dairy milk produces almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than non-dairy milks. Comparably, Carbon Footprint of Coconut milk is way much lower.
So, whether it’s to try new flavours, help the environment, or give veganism a go, dairy alternatives can be a great addition to your diet.
Which Milk Alternative Should You Try?
1. Almond Milk
Almond milk is my personal favourite. Whilst it doesn’t fare as well as the other milks in terms of its environmental impact, I find its versatility makes it perfect for my everyday use. It’s great in tea, I barely notice the difference.
What is it? Almond milk is made by mixing water with ground almonds and filtering it. A lot of almond milks in shops also have added vitamins and minerals.
Tastes like: Slightly nutty.
How does it compare to dairy milk? Almond milk is much lower in calories than dairy milk: about 65-80% less! It is also a natural source of Vitamin E, which isn’t found in dairy-milk. However, it is much lower in calcium but this is normally added by manufacturers so give the label a check. It’s also much lower in protein so make sure you’re getting it elsewhere.
2. Soy Milk
Soy milk is probably the most readily available milk alternative so it could be worth getting used to the taste.
What is it? Soy milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans. The mixture is boiled and filtered. Manufacturers also tend to add extra vitamins and minerals.
Tastes like: Some people find soy milk a bit of a strange taste at first. Different brands can taste different so give a few a try before you give up!
How does it compare to dairy milk? Soy milk is lower in calories than dairy milk but still contains about the same amount of protein (so it’s a great option for non-meat eaters!). Soy milk also contains less saturated fats.However, dairy milk naturally contains more calcium, but like almond milk this is normally added to soy milk by manufacturers.
Check out Alpro
3. Oat Milk
Unlike the other milk alternatives, oat milk is a source of fiber. The taste isn’t too dissimilar from dairy-milk either, making it a strong contender!
What is it? Oat milk is made from steel-cut oats that are blended with water and strained.
Tastes like: Oat milk has a mild taste similar to dairy milk but unsurprisingly a little more oaty.
How does it compare to dairy milk? Unlike dairy milk, oat milk is a source of fiber! Higher in protein than most other dairy alternatives, oat milk is, however, still lower in protein than dairy or soy milk so make sure you’re getting enough elsewhere. Like the other alternatives, the calcium is normally added by manufacturers, so check your label.
4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk isn’t as nutritious as other types of milk but it’s a great option if you’re looking for flavour.
What is it? Coconut milk comes from the white flesh of the coconut, which is mixed with water.
Tastes like: Coconut milk is quite creamy and as you’d expect, has a slight coconut taste.
How does it compare to dairy milk? One of the big differences between coconut milk and dairy is that it contains fiber! However, dairy milk has twice the protein of coconut milk and naturally contains more nutrients. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a try. Coconut milks are usually fortified with nutrients so you can still benefit from the lower calories.
5. Rice Milk
Rice milk is a very good solution for people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to soy or milk and vegans.
What is it? Rice milk i
s made from blend of water and pressed rice grains.
Tastes like: The taste is a bit sweet and rich so it is a very good combination with muesli.
How does it compare to dairy milk? Rice milk in comparison to cow’s milk contains more carbohydrates that come as expected from blended rice grains. One of the main benefits of rice milk is a high amount of calcium and protein but also it is fat and cholesterol free! Also rice milks are usually fortified vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and iron, so it is a good option for vegans. The combination of rice and water is very satisfying in comparison to milk (glycemic index of ~86 compared to ~37 for cow milks).
The Nutritional Breakdown
Which one will you try?
So whether you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or just want to try something new, there’s a dairy alternative out there that’s perfect for you! Give one of our favourites a try! I’ve often found that I like different milks with different things so give a few a try until you find one that works for you.
Which one will you try?
We’d love to give some new combinations a try!
Check these communities out…
- The Vegan Society – Find out more about veganism and the dairy industry. They also have a list of local support. Sign up to The Vegan Pledge for more information if you’re considering becoming vegan.
- UoNSU Vegetarian and Vegan Society – If you’re studying at the University of Nottingham, the Vegetarian and Vegan society have regular meetups where you can find out more and get advice
- Nottingham Vegetarian/Vegan Meetup – Not a university student? Don’t worry, there is still a local group that meet up regularly to share information and delicious food!
- At1 Space – Try out some vegan food! At1 Space has a delicious range of healthy vegan options in their cafe and even has its own vegan shop too!
- Sneinton Vegan Market – Every first and third Saturday of the month you’ll find a wide range of vegan food, drink and crafts!