For some people, going without milk is a relatively easy thing. For others it can be one of the hardest things about going vegan. I mean, what else are you going to put on your cereal in the morning? Luckily in this day and age there is a tonne of dairy milk alternatives, and not only that, almost all of them are now sitting at reasonable prices. Joint demand between naturally lactose intolerant people and vegans has meant that soy milk can be bought at almost the same price as regular milk in some areas. That’s a great thing!
So what’s the alternatives?
Probably the most common alternative out there. Soy milk is available everywhere! It can usually be found in the “long life” milk section of your supermarket, but one of the great things about soy milk is that many coffee shops (even Starbucks) can now make your favourite hot beverage with it. Soy milk tends to provide a more “creamier” taste than regular milk, and is sometimes said to “feel thicker”, although results may vary! Soy milk also comes in many flavors with the most common ones being vanilla and chocolate. Many people choose a flavored version to go with cereal to get a sweeter taste.
Almond milk is definitely a close runner up to soy in terms of popularity. While almond milk is usually easy to find in supermarkets, very few coffee shops have it in stock. Almond milk tends to have a “nutty” taste, that’s because as it’s name suggests, it’s made by running water through crushed almonds. No matter the brand, almond milk also tends to have “floaties”, or tiny bits of almond floating around in the milk. This can be off putting for some people to see floating in their tea or coffee, but it doesn’t affect the taste/texture at all. It also comes in flavored varieties! Most commonly chocolate. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can even make it at home! (Recipe here : http://www.theveganfoodblog.com/2014/01/21/homemade-chocolate-almond-milk/)
Coconut milk tends to be a dessert only milk. It’s much much sweeter than either soy or almond milk, almost like drinking a liquid pudding. But for that reason, it goes great in baking, desserts or other uses that you want a sweet hit in without plowing it with additional sugar. Again, coconut milk is pretty common in supermarkets, but not at all common in coffee shops.
Hemp milk is the real outlier here. It really is a specialty milk that doesn’t get used all too often (Which is a shame). The main reason for using hemp milk is that it’s got a great nutrional hit packed in. It’s made using a similar process to almond milk, where hemp seeds are crushed, and water is filtered through them. Overwhelming, people who try hemp milk say it tastes pretty awful, but it definitely has it’s place! In smoothies for instance where you want a great nutritional hit, and don’t care about having a true “milky” flavor.
Below is a chart with the most common dietary stats of dairy milk side by side with non dairy milks. This way, you can see side by side just how the alternatives stack up. All numbers are based off a standard “cup” (244g).
|Milk Type||Calories Avg||Calcium Avg||Protein Avg||Cholesterol Avg||Potassium Avg||Sodium Avg|
|Dairy Milk (2% fat)||124||29%||8 g||20 mg||344 mg||116 mg|
|Soy Milk||80||30%||7 g||0 mg||340 mg||70 mg|
|Almond Milk||30||45%||1 g||0 mg||35 mg||160 mg|
|Coconut Milk||45||45%||0 g||0 mg||0 mg||40 mg|
|Hemp Milk||140||50%||3 g||0 mg||170 mg||130 mg|
Dairy Milk based on Google Nutrition e.g. : https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=calcium+in+milk
Soy Milk based on Silk Unsweetened : http://silk.com/products/organic-unsweetened-soymilk
Almond Milk based on Silk Unsweetened : http://silk.com/products/unsweetened-original-almondmilk
Coconut Milk based on Silk Unsweetened : http://silk.com/products/unsweetened-coconutmilk
Hemp Milk based on Pacific Hemp Milk : http://www.pacificfoods.com/food/non-dairy-beverages/nut-grain-beverages/hemp-original.aspx