Now, you don’t need to be reminded about why switching to plant-based milks is the right move for you. However, there is also no denying that picking non-dairy milk at the supermarket isn’t as simple as it once was. This, of course, is due to the incredible variety now available.
It is estimated that the dairy alternative market is currently worth almost $12 billion. If that isn’t impressive enough, around 25 percent of the British population now drink plant-based milk. This goes to show that it isn’t just the vegans clamoring for these beverages anymore.
Now, while all of this choice certainly does make a nice change for vegans, it can also bring quite a bit of confusion along with it. After all, how are you supposed to know which milk you are supposed to drink based on your diet, environmental concerns, and more?
Well, if you have these questions, you can now put them to rest. Here you will find all the details that you need to know.
Plant-Based Milk For Nutrition
Ok, so the first thing that you are going to need to know about is nutrition. After all, this is the main reason that most people drink dairy milk. Therefore, it stands to reason that you would look for a drink that is equally or more nutritious.
Perhaps the first thing to understand is that no one plant-based milk will fulfill all your nutrient requirements. While some plants are higher in specific nutrients, they will naturally be lower in others. Thus, you first need to figure out what component is most important to you.
If it is the protein that you are looking for, then you can’t do better than soy milk. This is because you can get between 7g and 8g of protein in a single cup! What’s more, it contains antioxidants and fiber, which can round out its nutrient profile.
Now, there are a lot of rumors regarding soy, but they are unfounded for the most part. There are actually many health benefits of soy. Although if you would like to stay on the safe side, it is best to stick with organic/non-GMO, unsweetened versions.
One of the main reasons that almond milk has gained so much popularity is because it is quite low in calories. You will consume just 30 calories per cup. Unfortunately, this does come with a few downsides as well. For instance, this milk is quite low in protein – it contains less than one gram.
On the upside, though, it does have quite a few micronutrients. There are around 481 grams of calcium per cup – even more than dairy! And, there is an adequate amount of vitamin E to boot.
Oat milk is undoubtedly having a moment right now and with good reason too. Drinking a cup of this milk can help you get a considerable dose of vitamins B and beta-glucans. As a result, drinking oat milk may help to lower harmful cholesterol levels in the body.
That being said, it should be noted that oat milk can be higher in calories and contain a fair amount of sugar as well. Not to mention, it isn’t suitable for people who are trying to cut out gluten.
Cashew milk is pretty similar to almond milk in terms of composition. So, despite being low in calories, there isn’t too much protein here. Nevertheless, it does contain healthy doses of zinc, magnesium, and copper. In case you were wondering, this can be used to boost your immune health.
Coconut milk is higher in calories and fat than other types of milk. Unfortunately, much of the fat comes is saturated. While this isn’t necessarily the greatest for people at risk of cholesterol and heart problems, it does serve a purpose. It can help to increase satiety so you may not need to drink as much of it.
Flax milk deserves more recognition among plant-based kinds of milk. This is mainly due to the presence of alpha-linoleic acid in this milk. To begin with, it can help to give your immune system a boost. More importantly, though, it can reduce the risk of heart disease.
Which Milk is Most Environmentally Friendly?
Modern vegans are just as concerned about the climate as they are for animal welfare. Thus, you need to make sure that your plant-based milks are environment-friendly. So, how can you do this? Well, there are two things that you have to take into consideration – environmental impact based on growth and mileage.
Growth-Based Environmental Impact
Here, almond milk has the least gas house emissions based on its growth patterns. However, soy milk and oat milk aren’t too far behind either. Now, where almond milk loses points is water use. It is much higher than with either soy milk or oat milk.
It is also a good idea to see where your favorite plant-based milks are produced. When possible, find ones that are as physically close to you as possible. This way, they don’t have to travel as far to get you. Naturally, the carbon footprint of these milks is reduced.
Taste – How Much Does It Matter?
The truth is that taste does matter quite a bit when selecting plant-based milks. After all, if you don’t enjoy particular milk, the nutrient content or even the environmental factor will not matter too much. Thus, you may want to figure out what kind of milk tastes the best to you. Regardless of what you choose, you can be certain that it will be much better than dairy milk.
How Are You Using the Milk?
There are several ways to use plant-based milks – in your drinks, cooking, desserts, and even to drink. As you may know, not all non-dairy milks can be equally as good in all instances. For instance, if you are cooking, you can’t go wrong with coconut milk. Its creaminess and taste are well-suited to numerous dishes, especially Asian-inspired ones.
If you are looking for something for coffee or tea drinks, oat milk may be more suitable. It has a gentle taste and is incredibly creamy. Not to mention, it can be mixed well. Almond and cashew milk can work just as well, although it may thin out the drink a little.
Now, unsweetened soy milk can be an acquired taste. If you do like it, however, you can add it to drinks and cereals just as with almond and cashew milk. The choice is up to you.
Keep Convenience in Mind
Finally, focus on convenience. If you are looking for an alternative to dairy milk, then it needs to be as readily available as that drink. So, you may have to adjust your buying tendencies towards what is present in your local stores. Otherwise, you will need to order in bulk online.
These are the top ways to determine which plant-based milk is most suitable to you. Based on these factors, you can come to a more reliable conclusion about which one should be your pick.