Got Milk? A Helpful Guide to Plant-based Milk

Photo: Milk Alternatives

Got milk? Even if you don't want to consume dairy products, milk can still be an important part of your diet with the abundance of plant-based choices available on Down to Earth's shelves. Plant milks are often rich in vitamins and minerals, have less saturated fat than cow's milk, and some are cholesterol-free. Almond, pea, and flaxseed milk even have more calcium than dairy milk! 

There are many alternatives for vegans, people who have trouble digesting dairy products, and those who just don't like regular milk. Plant milks can be great by the glass, on cereal, in smoothies, or in all kinds of recipes. But which ones are best? Here's a breakdown of some of the most popular plant-based milks to help you find the ideal choice for you! 

Soy Milk- Soy milk is a good substitute for cow’s milk because it has a similar protein content, but fewer calories, carbs, and fats. It's also one of the few plant-based sources of high-quality complete proteins which provide essential amino acids.   

Rice Milk- Rice milk is a great choice for people with food sensitivities because it's the least allergenic of all plant-based milk alternatives. This milk has a mild flavor and natural sweetness, with a more watery consistency. Rice milk has a high calcium content and compared to cow’s milk, rice milk has almost double the number of carbs and considerably less protein and fat. 

Photo: Glass of almond milk

Almond Milk- Unsweetened almond milk typically has less than a quarter of the calories and less than half the fat content of dairy milk, along with significantly less protein and carbohydrates. Almond milk is one of the lowest-calorie options available. However, almond milk has less of the beneficial nutrients found in whole almonds, such as protein, fiber, and healthy fats, because it is made from mostly water. 

Cashew Milk- Cashew milk is a rich and creamy choice with a sweet and slightly nutty flavor. This is an excellent addition to coffee drinks, desserts, and smoothies. Cashew milk has a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but not much protein.  

Oat Milk- Oat milk is high in fiber and beta-glucan, a fiber that helps to reduce cholesterol levels in the body. Beta-glucan has also been shown to help increase feelings of fullness and lower blood sugar levels after a meal. Oat milk may be the thickest and creamiest plant milk available- try it and see for yourself! 

Photo: Hemp seeds

Hemp Milk- Hemp milk has a vaguely sweet and nutty taste with a thin and watery texture, so it works best as a substitute for skimmed milk. It's a good choice for vegans and vegetarians because one glass provides 2-3 grams of complete protein, with essential amino acids. Unsweetened hemp milk is also low in carbs. 

Macadamia Milk- This plant-based milk has a wonderful rich and creamy flavor. It's high in protein and has a third of the calories and half of the fat of regular milk. Macadamia milk is also a source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which may help to reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. 

Coconut Milk- Not to be confused with the concentrated version, which is sold in cans and used for cooking, the diluted coconut milk for drinking has a creamy texture with a subtly sweet coconut flavor. It has 120mg of calcium but almost no fiber or protein content. For this reason, it may not be the best vegan milk option for those who need to increase their protein intake. 

For any plant milks, be sure to read the nutrition label before choosing one. Many have added ingredients to thicken, sweeten, or add flavor so be aware of exactly what you're getting. If you have questions, don't be shy about asking a friendly Down to Earth Team Member how to find the perfect alternative milk product for your lifestyle.