One of the easiest substitutions to make is milk as there are many vegan milk options. Whether you need some for your cereal, your cooking or your smoothies, there are plant milk options that will work. Most of the dairy-free milks come in sweetened and unsweetened varieties. Some of these alternative milks can have as much nutrition as cow's milk with less environmental impact. These dairy alternatives are not only good for vegans, but they are also essential for those with dairy allergies or those who are lactose intolerant.
Many of these vegan milks are fortified with b vitamins, calcium, vitamin d, as well as other vitamins. It's no wonder that American's dairy milk consumption has been decreasing with the rise of so many vegan milk products. The popular vegan milk options are nut milks, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, and coconut milk. Luckily you don't need to shop at a special store to find these milk alternatives. Regular grocery stores will have several of these options. Let me go over the pros (and maybe some cons) for each kind.
They make milk from almost any nut. Most popular is almond, but there’s also cashew, hazelnut milk, walnut, macadamia milk and even peanut milk. Even though these are made from nuts, most do not have much of a nutty flavor. Some benefits of the nut milks are that they are low in sugar and carbs (unless you get sweetened) and naturally have some vitamins. One con is that they only have a small amount of protein. Almond milk is extremely versatile. It has a fairly bland taste which is good for cooking when you don’t want a strong flavor. Cashew milk is tasty and tends to be a bit creamier.
Classic soy milk. Once it was the most popular of the non-dairy milks but as nut and oat milks have risen in popularity, soy milk has lowered. Soy milk is my favorite non-dairy milk as it has the most protein – about 7 grams of protein per cup. It’s very low in carbs and sugar as well. It does have a stronger taste than almond or rice milk, but not so much that it over powers whatever you’re using it for. Often soy milk is fortified with vitamin b12 which is an essential vitamin that vegans need to take. For me, soy milk is the best option and I drink it daily in my breakfast smoothie. This article in Time agrees with me and declares soy milk the best of the plant-based milks.
Rice milk is the most hypoallergenic of all the milks and a great choice if you have a nut allergy. It’s also saturated fat free! What I like best about it is it’s lack of flavor…which sounds strange. But sometimes you just don’t want to add extra taste to your cooking. As for the cons, it’s high in carbohydrates, low in protein, and isn’t as creamy as the other milks.
Oat milk is another great option and can often be found in coffee shops. But, while oat milk is tasty, it’s also high in carbohydrates and calories. The pros are that it has some fiber and a moderate amount of protein – around 4 grams per cup. Depending on the brand, it often has a creamy texture. Because of it’s sweet flavor, oat milk works well for baking and in smoothies.
Like oat milk, coconut milk is sweeter than other milks. It’s a creamier milk and works well for smoothies. Unfortunately it has very little protein and is relatively high in saturated fat. It also has a stronger flavor than the other milks so make sure you’re good with the coconut flavor. I like using coconut milk when making something that is supposed to taste like coconut such as in a curry or in a coconut flavored dessert. If you are using it to make savory dishes, make sure you are using the unsweetened variety.
Other Vegan Milk Options
There are a few other milks out there that are options. Milk from hemp seeds and pea protein milk are newer milks that may work for you as well. Some of the more popular brands of vegan alternative milk that are commonly found in supermarkets include Almond Breeze, Silk, Califia Farms, and Ripple. So head on over to the dairy aisle, check out the vegan milk options and find your favorite!