Vegan milk…..There is an ongoing discussion about the health benefits of dairy or lack of.
On the one hand people say cow’s milk is healthy because of protein, calcium, zinc, magnesium and vitamins.
On the other hand dairy is known to be a hormone cocktail. Milk can cause acne. Milk is full of saturated fat which has been linked to causing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll also find that studies are now showing that dairy can cause prostate cancer and many other forms of cancer because of the ingredient found in milk called casein.
Did I also mention that no other animal on the planet consumes milk regularly past the weaning period and certainly not from another species?
If you are concerned about drinking cow’s milk, which you should be, know that there are plenty of great vegan milk alternatives on the market today.
In this blogpost I am going to share four great alternatives to dairy.
- Soy milk
Soy milk is probably the best known vegan alternative on the market today. Though that is changing rapidly.
Almost every coffee shop and restaurant offers soy milk. I would say soy milk when comparing with ingredients is the closest to cow’s milk.
A lot of vegans use soy milk as a source of protein and folic acid, plus it does not contain any cholesterol. Because of the Lecithin, soy milk is great for baking.
If you are a coffee lover, this milk alternative is easy to foam for your lattes.
Even though soy milk does have a lot of advantages, there are still some debatable sides to this vegan milk.
In one of my latest blog posts to “here are a few things to consider when going vegan” we talked about how going vegan can play an essential part in saving the environment and the atmosphere.
Unfortunately there is not enough data about the carbon footprint of soy, but several studies suggest soy (especially the one that comes from south america) is just as bad for the environment as dairy farming.
Rainforests, an important part of the ecosystem and the CO2 storage are being destroyed for the cultivation of soy. (something to think about)
Regarding the health benefits of soy in general, there are different opinions as well. Some studies suggest that soy milk is a healthier alternative to dairy and others say that it is bad for your body and that it increases the risk of cancer or inflammation for example. (thus the soy debate still continues)
- Almond/Hazelnut/Cashew Milk
There are different milk alternatives that are based on nuts like almonds, hazelnuts or cashews, just to name a few. By the way, did you know that almonds are not counted as nuts in the botanical sense?
These vegan milks do have a nutty flavor, which makes them a great ingredient to bake with or to add to any kind of sweet treat or dessert.
All three are also known to have antioxidant properties, which support our cells to fight against free radicals.
Almond milk: it is easily digestible and contains less fat than low-fat dairy milk. This milk is a good provider of unsaturated fats. Not all brands of almond milk are gluten free.
Hazelnut milk: it is gluten free and besides that works as a great source of fiber. If you have high cholesterol this alternative is great for you because of its antioxidant properties.
Cashew milk: it is really rich in phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium and has a lot of vitamins and minerals. Plus it has even less fat than almond milk.
- Oat/Rice/Spelt Milk
There are more vegan milk alternatives made with oats, rice and spelt. Recently quinoa milk has been added to the list, but this one is rather hard to find in the big chain supermarkets.
Oat milk: this is a real superstar when it comes to fiber, protein and again, antioxidants. But pay attention to gluten, oat milk is not gluten free!
Rice milk: it provides your body with energy and lowers your cholesterol levels because of its carbohydrate content. It is gluten free.
Spelt milk: it contains about as much fat as normal dairy milk, other then that it has a similar nutritional value to hazelnut and almond milk. But be aware that it contains gluten. Spelt milk has a really sweet taste and works really well in coffee and sweet treats.
- Coconut Milk
Even if you have never bought coconut milk yourself, you probably have tasted it in several dishes at… for example asian restaurants. They use this vegan milk quite a bit for their recipes.
Coconut milk is known to be a good source of iron for women and men. Iron is essential for transporting oxygen and the formation of red blood cells.
Coconuts do contain a lot of fat, but it helps increase the metabolism and can help with weight loss.
Some people believe in the beauty benefits of coconut milk for you hair and skin (whether you drink or directly apply it onto your skin or hair)
In the end it is all a matter of personal taste and what you want to use vegan milk for.
You can see, every milk alternative has its pros and cons. If you want to experiment a bit you can even make vegan milk at home. How cool is that!
Last but not least, take your time and taste for yourself different brands, until you find what works best for you.