Cow’s milk has been the long-reigning star of the milk world, but in recent years some other non-dairy alternatives have come to challenge the throne.
While cow’s milk is a great source of protein and vitamin D, it can also vary widely in fat, calorie, and carb content depending on whether you’re using whole, fat free or anything in between. Additionally, milk may not be an option for those with certain types of food allergies. Enter: non-dairy milk.
Almond milk is the most well-known of the non-dairy alternatives, but it has met with some small criticism for the fact that it takes 23 gallons of water to produce an ounce of almonds. If you’re looking for a different nut-based milk, cashew milk and hazelnut milk will give you a similarly nutty flavor that works well in recipes and as a coffee creamer. However, nut-based milk substitutes are often high in calories and fat, and low in protein. These are also a no-go for anyone with nut-based food allergies. Coconut milk is nut-free, light and creamy, and low in calories, but it’s also low in protein. There are also many less well-known dairy substitutes such as Hemp Milk (made of the hemp seed) and Flax Milk, both of which are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Rice milk can be substituted 1:1 with cow’s milk in many recipes, and is the best option if you have any food allergies or are vegan. Unfortunately, rice milk has no protein and can contain lots of sugar if you don’t buy it unsweetened. Soy milk, on the other hand, has high protein and less fat than other milk substitutes, but its chalky taste and texture make some people reluctant to make the switch. Finally, a new up and comer on the scene is Quinoa milk. While it might be hard to find, it can also be substituted 1:1 in many recipes; it’s also gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. Make sure to watch the calorie count, though – quinoa milk has a higher sugar and calorie count than some other milks on the list, though still lower than cow’s milk.
There are a number of dairy-free alternatives to cow’s milk out there, and they each come with their own pros and cons. While this can be overwhelming, it’s good to consider what you’re looking for in your milk before you purchase. Are you looking for an alternative with lower carbs, fat, or calories? Are you looking for something with a protein punch? How about something that works well in recipes, or something that avoids food allergies? Check out the info-graphic above for more information on your options, and get started on choosing which milk is best for you.