More and more people are switching from cow’s milk to a plant-based alternative. Are you looking for a good alternative to milk? Below you will find an overview with five alternatives to milk.
Who didn’t grow up with a glass of milk?
A glass of milk for breakfast, dinner, by the brain, a hint of milk by the coffee – I think we all have our experiences drinking milk.
Many years ago I stopped drinking cow’s milk. I noticed that I got the necessary side effects (read my previous article for more info about the side effects). Chances are I will get cow’s milk (powder) from time to time, but not in a large number of years ago.
What is the reason for someone to stop using cow’s milk and switch to an alternative? This is, of course, different for everyone. These are the most frequently heard reasons:
- Lactose intolerance: You often notice this if you drink bloating, rumbling in your stomach, or diarrhea after drinking milk.
- Fewer contributions to animal suffering: Although the packaging of a carton of milk would like to believe that cows are mainly grazing outside in the pasture, the cows spend almost their entire lives indoors on a concrete floor. The cows are regularly given antibiotics and hormones and their calves are taken from them when they are just one day old. 😢
- Dairy farming has a significant impact on the environment: it contributes 4 percent to the world’s CO2 emissions.
- There is some controversy as to whether or not milk is healthy for you: For example, milk would be bad for your bones and it is better not to drink milk if you are overweight. In any case, you don’t need milk to get enough calcium. Calcium is better obtained from ingredients such as green leafy vegetables, beans, oatmeal, broccoli, and almonds.
Enough about the side effects and reasons to stop cow’s milk. Let’s look at the alternatives to milk. I have listed 5 vegetable milk substitutes, including the necessary advantages and disadvantages.
1. Soy milk
Soy milk is perhaps the most famous vegetable alternative to milk. Lately, the question has often been raised whether soy milk is healthy. Several advantages and disadvantages at a glance:
- Benefits of soy milk: Soy milk usually contains less sugar than cow’s milk (lactose) – if you choose the unsweetened variant, of course. Soy is high in protein and soy milk is usually enriched with calcium, vitamins E, and D. Also, the use of soy can lower cholesterol.
- Disadvantages: Soy milk contains substances that are comparable to the female hormone estrogen. Soy is not (yet) always grown sustainably.
Soy milk has a lower environmental impact than cow’s milk. The unsustainable cultivation of soy may cause deforestation, erosion, and desertification. Fortunately, nowadays soy for soy milk (or soy yogurt) is usually sustainably and/or organically grown.
2. Almond milk
Another well-known alternative to milk is almond milk. Some time ago, I regularly used almond milk in the oatmeal porridge or took it as a substitute for cow’s milk in a cappuccino. Until I read an article on Trouw that to make one almond requires no less than 5 liters of water. I was quite shocked by that.
- Benefits: Almond milk is full of vitamins (such as vitamin E and biotin) and minerals that you also find in almonds. Low in calories.
- Disadvantages: Almond milk is low in protein. A lot of water is needed to make almond milk. Furthermore, almond milk contains 2 to 2.5 percent almond paste – just 4 grams of almonds per 200 ml glass.
3. Coconut milk
Unlike coconut water, coconut milk is made from the flesh of the coconut. Coconut milk is, among other things, rich in anti-oxidants and iron and contains vitamins C, E, and B. Very tasty, but be careful with the use of coconut milk. It contains the necessary saturated fats.
Coconut milk is very nice to use in a curry-like in this vegan curry with tempeh and pumpkin.
4. Oat milk
Oat milk is my favorite plant-based milk right now. An oat latte, in particular, is a favorite. I don’t know what it is, but for me, oat milk is the perfect alternative to cow’s milk. It foams well, is low in calories and packed with fiber.
- More benefits of oat milk: It can be grown locally, so your ecological footprint is less than for example with soy and almond milk. It contains phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B, A, and E.
- Disadvantages of oat milk: Oat milk is low in protein. Also, you have to love the taste of oats.
5. Rice milk
Rice milk is still a new alternative to discover for me. Brought home six months ago, but after that, it never occurred to me to get rice milk again.
However, there are quite a few advantages to choosing rice milk:
- Benefits of rice milk: Rice milk does not contain cholesterol and it also contains few fats. Rice milk contains calcium and vitamin B12.
- Disadvantages: Rice milk contains the least protein of all vegetable alternatives in this list. It contains only 0.1 grams of protein per 100 ml of rice milk. Besides, rice milk contains a lot of carbohydrates.
It is difficult to find out which product has the least impact on the environment. I did come across a Swiss study via this website. It showed that the environmental impact of vegetable milk is more than half that of cow’s milk. Only the environmental impact of almond milk is slightly higher than the other vegetable alternatives to milk, but still a lot lower than that of cow’s milk.
By the way, did you know that milk should only be called milk if it is cow’s milk? Milk is a protected name, which is why the vegetable alternatives for milk on the label are often referred to as drink – such as soy drink, almond drink, oat drink.
Have you ever drunk vegetable milk? What did you think of it?