Are you interested in going dairy free? Or do you just want to try plant milks but don’t know which one is right for you? Here’s our list of our favourite 8 plant milk alternatives to dairy milk!
Why should you use plant milk?
There are three main reasons why you may want to consider switching from usual dairy milk to plant milk:
- Better for the animals
- Better for your health
- Better for the environment
(Disclaimer – The information below provides details into the truth behind the dairy industry, the health implications of milk, and environmental issues with dairy and animal agriculture. If you are not interested in this, although we believe it is important for everyone to know, you can continue to scroll down to see our top 8 Plant Milk Alternatives!)
Many people understand why a person may want to become vegetarian or not eat meat, but struggle to understand the logic behind avoiding dairy products, as an animal doesn’t have to die for you to get it.
The truth is that animals do die in the dairy industry, and a lot of suffering is caused. Cows must give birth in order to produce milk, but in order to give birth a cow must first be pregnant. In a mass money making corporation, where the sole goal is profit, and time is of every importance, the cows are forcibly impregnated through artificial insemination, meaning they have no choice. Then as soon as the baby calf is born it is taken away from its mother, as any milk lost to the calf is milk they can’t sell on to make a profit. This causes a lot of distress to the mother, as it will never see its calf again. If this baby calf is a girl, it will then go on to live the same life as its mother. However if it is a boy, then it is no use to the dairy industry and therefore is raised in a small enclosure for a few weeks to restrict its movement, and then is killed and sold as veal.
Many people believe that cows want to be milked and that their udders would explode if we didn’t milk them, however this is not true. A cow makes milk purely in order to feed her child, and therefore if it wasn’t giving this milk to the child, or milked it would simply stop producing milk. Milking a cow isn’t a pleasant experience for them, and the machines suck them dry and cause a lot of pain, as well as wounds, infection and pus. Finally, when the cow gets older and stops producing as much milk anymore, the cow is sent off to be killed as it is no longer of any use to the dairy industry.
So, what about the health benefits of plant milk? You may be thinking, ‘How can cow’s milk be bad for my health!? It’s so full of calcium!’. While cow’s milk does contain calcium, the animal proteins in it are of a slightly different acidity to that of our bodies, and therefore it actually causes calcium to be leached from our bones in order to properly digest this. This can lead to calcium deficiencies, weak bones, and even osteoporosis. You are much better off getting calcium from greens, beans and fortified foods, such as plant milks.
Most people cannot properly digest milk, as we were never meant to drink it. We are the only one out of the 10,000 animal species on earth that consumes the milk of another animal. So no, you’re not lactose intolerant, you’re just not a baby cow!
The only kind of animal milk we should consume is the breast milk from our own mothers when we are babies and infants. Leave the cow’s milk for the baby cows! Also, cow’s milk makes people put on weight. It is basically a baby cow growth formula that is specifically designed to grow a baby cow (around 85lbs) into a huge 1 tonne cow in a matter of weeks! Therefore, when humans drink cow’s milk, it also makes us gain weight very quickly.
Cow’s milk is also very high in saturated fat, as well as cholesterol and trans fats, all of which may raise the risk of inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. There are also a lot of hormones in dairy products, both natural ones from the cow itself, and unnatural ones that are fed to the cows in order to make them produce more milk. These hormones may not only promote acne, but also contribute to risk of premature puberty, breast cancer, prostate cancer, other hormone-dependent cancers, declining sperm counts, excess oestrogen, and heart disease.
(For more nutrition facts, visit http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/milk/)
Not only is plant milk better for the cows and your health, it has vast environmental benefits as well. Plant milk uses significantly less water to produce than dairy milk. In order to produce 1 gallon of cow’s milk you will need 1,000 gallons of water, however you only need 208 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of soya milk. 55% of the water that is consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. Also, producing plant based milks uses less land than dairy milk, as you only need space to grow the crop itself, not the feed for the animals, and the land for the animals too. Livestock covers 45% of the earth’s total land, and 2-5 acres of land are used per cow! Switching to dairy-free milks also uses a lot less waste – A farm with 2,500 dairy cows produces the same amount of waste as a city of 411,000 people! So overall, plant milk alternatives are far more environmentally sustainable and better for the planet!
(For more environmental facts, visit http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts/)
1. Soya milk
This is probably the most common and well known dairy free milk alternative. It is also very accessible as it can be found in the majority of cafes, supermarkets, and even small corner shops. Soya milk is made by soaking dried soy beans, blending them with water, and then straining the mixture. Our go to brand is Alpro, as they have lots of variations on this classic plant based milk: original, vanilla, unsweetened, chocolate, and growing up milk (1-3+ years). Our personal favourite is the chocolate soya milk, as it tastes just like chocolate milk, and can be heated up to make great hot chocolate!
2. Almond milk
This is another common type of non-dairy milk. It is made from blended almonds and water, and is great in lattes, smoothies, cereal, porridge, baking, and many more! Almond milk has grown in popularity over recent years, and more and more people are beginning to drink it for it’s delicious taste, even if they are not dairy free or vegan! There is a mild slightly nutty undertone to the drink, which adds a great flavour, however this is not overpowering and shouldn’t put you off if you’re not a fan of the taste of nuts. We’re not a huge fan of nuts, but we still find almond milk to be one of our favourites! Our favourite brand Alpro Unsweetened, which we often use in our porridge and we also love Alpro Original for hot drinks, such as a cup of tea. Another popular brand is Almond Breeze, which is more common in the USA.
3. Coconut milk
Coconut milk has a much sweeter taste. It is made by grating and soaking the coconut flesh in hot water, and then skimming the cream off the top and straining the liquid into the milk. There are two different types of coconut milk, which confuses many people. The thinner milk that is found in the fridge with the other plant based milk cartons most commonly used as a regular cow’s milk alternative, and we find is great in porridge. The thick creamy milk that is found in cans, or in the indian food aisle is more commonly used in cooking, and is great as a replacement for cream in curries, soups and desserts. Our favourite brand is Koko Dairy Free.
4. Oat Milk
This is a great non-dairy milk if you have allergies to soy or nuts, or perhaps don’t like the flavour of coconut milk or other plant based milks. It has a very nice mild taste, and is probably the most similar to cow’s milk in its properties and flavour. It is made by blending soaked oats and water, and is great to be used in the majority of cooking and baking as it can normally be substituted in a one to one swap for cow’s milk or other dairy products such as cream. Our favourite brand is Oatly, which we like because it is a small company which care about the environment and they are set on sticking to their values as opposed turning into a gigantic profit based food corporation. They also offer organic versions of all their products, and strive to avoid using pesticides in their milks.
5. Cashew Milk
This milk has a great smooth and creamy texture and a nutty taste of cashews. It is made from blended cashews and water, and is great in smoothies, baking and cooking due to this creaminess.
6. Hazelnut milk
This milk is made from whole roasted hazelnuts, which are blended with water into a smooth and creamy texture. It has a great nutty taste, and is perfect in baking! It would also be great in hot chocolate, and gives a slight nutella flavour. Some of the most well known brands are Alpro and Rude Health.
7. Rice Milk
This milk is made similar to that of the other milks. Some of the most popular and widely available brands are Rice Dream and Alpro. It is great in cereals or in a morning cuppa.
8. Hemp milk
This is a creamy and nutritious plant milk, which is a great source of protein and is made from the natural hemp seed. Although some people avoid hemp products because of the link with cannabis, this isn’t something you should be concerned about, as it doesn’t contain any THC which is the component known to have psychoactive effects. So basically, you can’t get high from hemp milk! It can be used in Tea and Coffee, Cereals, Milk Shakes, porridge, for cooking, or as a refreshing drink.
What’s your favourite plant milk? Tell us in the comments below!
I’ve created an infographic that summarises everything in this post, so you can Pin it to your Pinterest boards and refer back to it later!