It’s never been an easier time to be vegan. That is, unless you find it difficulty making decisions from the wide selection of vegan options available. The number of plant milks alone has seemed to skyrocket, a new kind of plant-based beverage popping into the grocery store refrigerators every week. At this point, there’s no excuse as to why you cannot stop drinking another mom’s milk and drop the dairy habit for good.
If you are struggling to navigate the world of dairy alternatives and plant milks, you aren’t alone. The problem is no longer in trying to finding any store that carries a dairy-free option; now it’s all about choosing just one plant milk to buy that will suit your tastes and preferences. While the list is bound to expand, let’s look into the most popular plant milks on the market and see how they stack up to each other. Then you can feel good about supporting a vegan product that you’re sure to love.
This bad boy is the first one of its kind, the original plant milk before veganism was even a trending lifestyle. I know my first experience in plant milks was drinking Silk chocolate soy milk, and I was still eating every other dairy product under the sun!
I’ve discussed the controversy around soy in another post, but unless you’re eating soy at every single meal, you won’t have to worry about all that speculation. Soy milk is a better source of protein than other options, and it is often fortified with vitamin D and calcium, two nutrients any person, vegan or otherwise, generally lacks in their diet. Be weary of the sugar content, as is a common theme in plant milks, so make sure you find unsweetened versions.
Almond & cashew milk.
If you’re looking for lower calorie options for plant milk, these two are your new best friends. These two seem to be increasingly popular options for people unsure about stepping away from the dairy because they’re widely available…even Starbucks and other coffee shops carry them!
Keep in mind that since they are more dilute of calories, these milks are generally thinner in consistency and have little to no protein. That makes them very easy to replace in recipes and use in a variety of ways, including smoothies, baking and more, but they won’t necessarily be giving you tons of nutritional benefits.
This option is a new one I have just recently discovered, and I’m digging it. Hemp seeds are one of those trending “super foods,” especially for vegans that might worry about getting in all their amino acids. Hemp milk actually has a complete omega-3 profile, having 700 mg per cup, and even has the potential to lower triglyceride levels and reduce cholesterol. Out of all the options, I see hemp milk as the best bang for your buck in terms of both nutritional value and fitting well into any lifestyle.
Soy milk isn’t the only plant milk surrounded in some controversy. Even health professionals are on the fence on whether coconut products, including oil, butter, and milk, are all they’re cracked up to be. Coconut milk is very high in calories and fat. A glass of coconut milk has between 90- 500 calories depending on whether it is canned (higher) or a boxed and watered down brand such as Silk. Coconut milk is 3 times higher in saturated fat than even cow’s milk! We all need fat in our diets, but how much and what kind of fat is still under speculation. Treat yourself to this creamy plant milk, but don’t drink an abundant amount every day. It’s creamy enough that a little splash here and there will satisfy your cravings.
Rice & oat milk.
Now you can have your grains and drink them, too. These two options tend to be another lower calorie option that doesn’t do much in terms of protein. Many varieties do fortify their blends with calcium for a nutritional boost though, and they are all very low in fat. The only concern you might have is, since both these plant milks come from carbohydrates, they tend to be higher in sugar.
Oat milk is the better option of the two. Oat milk is an extremely health-conscious choice, high in natural fiber and iron, and low in fat, sugars, and calories. Oats themselves are very nutritious, known to have many healing properties coming from their high protein and fiber content. However, I usually see oat milk varieties as more expensive than other plant milks, so keep that in mind.
I’m not about to go into too graphic of details as to why choosing any of these plant milks is a million times better than traditional dairy equivalents. Yes, it’s better when you know where your dairy products come from and you’re supporting a smaller, local operation, but that still doesn’t give us the privilege to drink another animal’s milk meant for their offspring.
Take a trip to your local grocery store yourself and see what’s all available. There’s even more that I haven’t mentioned, PLUS all of the other nondairy products like cheese, yogurt, coffee creamer, butter, and ice cream that have tons of different options, too. That might be one of my favorite parts about going vegan: I have tried so many new foods I would have never considered on a conventional American diet, and I can feel good about doing so because they’re all supporting a great cause.
Are there other plant-based products I should overview and discuss? Maybe do a taste test myself? Let me know what you want to see and learn more about!
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie