Over the last decade, plant-based milk has only grown in popularity, and for good reason. Not only do they fill a void for people with allergies and different dietary restrictions, but they also offer a host of nutritional benefits while helping lower our carbon footprint. Reasons, why people choose plant-based milk, include lactose intolerance, milk allergy, vegan diet or lifestyle, inflammation, or intestinal diseases. There are also concerns over antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones used in dairy milk.
Although plant-based milk alternatives may be labeled “milk” by the manufacturer, they are not milk. Plant sources to make these milk alternative products include grains like rice and oats, legumes like soy, nuts like almond or cashew, and seeds like flax or hemp.
In general plant-based milk tends to have less fat, fewer calories, more water content and less protein than dairy milk. Soy milk that is fortified with calcium, and vitamins A & D is the only nutrient content similar enough to milk to meet the Dietary Guideline of Americans by the federal government. Checking the label is important to see processing methods, and added ingredients to determine if a plant-based milk is nutrient-rich and will meet your needs.
In fact, only 28 beverages out of 233 plant-based milk products from 23 different manufacturers actually had more protein, vitamin D, and calcium than cow’s milk in a recent study. But plant-based milk wins with more fiber, less cholesterol, and low levels of saturated fat. Will these facts stop anyone from order a plant-based milk beverage over milk? Probably not. Americans want, what they want.
We all see the variety of dairy-free alternative beverages while ordering our mocha lattes at the local shop. Coffee shops are not the only place to highlight plant-based milk. So, whether you personally drink plant-based milk alternatives or not, your restaurant, school, or healthcare facility needs to make sure they are an option on the menu. Don’t forget to check labels for saturated fats and added sugars that reduce the nutritious benefits that can be found in plant-based milks.
The options of plant-based milk are numerous from soy, oat, almond, hemp, pea, rice, coconut to flax and potato. Most common options for retail sale are soy, almond, coconut and oat. So let’s break those down…
Soy has long been a staple in Asian cuisines it’s traditionally made by soaking soybeans, boiling, and grinding them then separating the milk from the pulp. It has a distinctly beany flavor and is closest to dairy in terms of protein content and overall performance. Soy milk has isoflavones that have a protective effect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.
Pros: rich in protein, balanced diet | Cons: taste, soy allergy
Pearl Organic Vanilla Soy Milk #24690 24/8 oz
Pearl Organic Chocolate Soy Milk #24692 24/8 oz
Silk Plain Soy Milk #24694 12/32 oz
Silk Vanilla Soy Milk #24696 12/32 oz
Silk Chocolate Soy Milk #24697 6/64 oz
Almond milk is the most popular plant milk. is of medieval European descent. Its milk has a sweet nutty flavor. The bonus of almond milk is that it is low in fat and calorie content and is a great source of Vitamin E. Alpha-tocopherol are a powerful antioxidant found in almond milk that protects against free-radicals. Easy to make by soaking, blending, and straining raw almonds. This milk alternative offers a delicate flavor great for coffee, baking and cereal.
Pros: balanced diet, low calories, taste | Cons: almond allergy
Almond Breeze Unsweetened Extra Creamy Almond Milk #24713 6/64 oz
Almond Breeze Extra Creamy Almond Milk #24714 6/59 oz
Almond Breeze Original Almond Milk #24715 6/64 oz
Coconut milk is derived from Southeast Asian and African descent. Tropical in flavor, it’s a shelf-stable nondairy alternative great for drinking and a favorite for cereal. This one stands out as its coconut flavor is always present. Coconut milk contains lauric acid that promotes brain development, boosts the immune system and maintains the elasticity of the blood vessels.
Pros: low calories, taste | Cons: no protein, rich in saturated fats, coconut allergy
Pacific Foods Coconut Milk – Barista Edition #24750 12/32 oz
This creamy drink is the fastest growing in popularity of the plant milks. β-Glucan, in oatmilk. has been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol.
Pros: high iron content, often fortified with calcium, high fiber, protein | Cons: added sugar, high calories, high in carbohydrates
Planet Oat Extra Creamy Oat Milk #24723 6/52 oz
Planet Oat Unsweetened Oat Milk #24727 6/52 oz
Planet Oat Milk – Barista Edition #24744 12/32 oz
Califia Farms Oat Milk – Barista Blend #24754 6/32 oz
Chobani Oat Milk – Barista Edition #54744 6/32 oz