Are Dairy-Free Milk Substitutes Better For Our Health And Environment?

Almond

Almond milk is highly nutritious and when enriched with Calcium, Vitamin D and protein can have the same benefits as cow’s milk.

How it’s Made 

Firstly the almonds are soaked in excess water. A milky white liquid is obtained after filtering the almond, it’s usually pasteurised for greater stability and shelf life when commercially sold.

To have a go at making it at home try here

 https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-almond-milk/

Pros 

Low in calories as watered down

Low sugar content

High in Vitamin E

Lactose-Free

Versatile

Requires less farmland to produce

Suitable for Vegans

Cons

Responsible for the death of Bees due to pesticides used on farms

Needs at least 74 litres of water

Not suitable for people with Nut allergies

Hazelnut

Hazelnut milk has lots of great health benefits, a well-known one is being an antioxidant which is what helps limit the amount of free radical damage our bodies go through.

How it’s made

Hazelnuts are often toasted after their shells are removed, soaked in water, crushed into a paste and blended with water.

Easy to make yourself

https://www.abeautifulplate.com/homemade-hazelnut-milk/

Pros

Rich in essential fatty acids

A good source of vitamins A, E and B

Lactose-free 

Great for pregnant women as rich in folate

Reduced greenhouse emissions as pollinated by the wind

Cons

Many store brands add additives to thicken which can cause digestion problems

Not suitable for people with nut allergies 

Coconut

Coconut milk is becoming more and more popular and is a great alternative to cow’s milk. Its rich creamy consistency makes it great for desserts. It’s quite high in calories and low in protein so probably best not to use it as a main milk source.

How it’s made

The coconut flesh is grated and soaked in hot water. The coconut cream rises to the surface, it then gets squeezed through a cheesecloth to extract the milk.

Why not make your own at home in 10 mins 

https://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-coconut-milk/

Pros

Contains lauric acid which is said to support the immune system

Rich in electrolytes that can help reduce fatigue

Very rich in Potassium, Magnesium and Phosphorus

Full of fibre helping to keep you full for longer which is great if trying to lose weight

lactose-free

Cons

High in saturated fat

Leaves a large carbon footprint due to the fact coconuts are grown in hot climates and have to travel further to be on our shelves

Can cause allergies or digestive problems 

Very low in protein

Hemp

Hemp milk is definitely becoming the popular milk choice these days with its high protein content, nutty flavour and versatility. Hemp is classed as a complete protein which means our bodies can digest it really well and we get all 9 essential amino acids needed for our bodies to function.

How it’s made

Hemp seeds get blended along with water, sometimes strained through cheesecloth for a smoother texture to produce the milk.

Another great recipe 

https://downshiftology.com/recipes/hemp-milk/

Pros

High in fatty acids omega 3 and 6 essential for brain function and skin health

High levels of the minerals Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc

The highest protein content of all cow’s milk substitutes

Easy to produce 

Soy, Lactose and gluten-free meaning suitable for nearly everyone

Cons

Fortified with Calcium to give it health benefits similar to cow’s milk

Quite a strong flavour, not all pallets may like

Can be quite expensive compared to other free from milk

High in sugar depending on the brand 

Additives are usually added

Soy

Soya milk has been around longer than many of the other kinds of milk we see today. Its been the most popular choice for Vegans and Vegetarians since the 1950s.

How it’s Made

By soaking and grinding soybeans with water, it then gets boiled and filtered.

2 ingredient recipe to try 

https://simpleveganblog.com/homemade-soy-milk/

Pros

Can reduce cholesterol levels

Low in saturated fat

High protein content similar to cow’s milk

Contain 8 amino acids

Efficient Calcium and Iron levels

Cons

Not suitable for anyone with a soy allergy

If used excessively it can raise estrogen levels in men

 read this article 

https://www.menshealth.com/nutrition/a19539170/soys-negative-effects/

Can contain genetically modified substances depending on the brand

Some brands add thickeners and preservatives

Rice

Rice milk is another great alternative to cow’s milk and the third most popular dairy-free milk on the market.

How it’s made

The rice is soaked in water, blended, and finally drained in order to extract the liquid.

Can be made at home follow this link

  https://happyherbivore.com/2011/08/what-is-rice-milk-rice-milk-recipe/

Pros

Contains a good amount of nutrients directly from the grain

Low in fat and may reduce cholesterol

A great alternative for vegans and people with nut allergies

Easy to make at home

If fortified can contain the minerals Vitamin D, Magnesium and Iron

Cons

Not suitable for diabetics due to its high carbohydrate levels

Should be limited in infants and children due to its inorganic arsenic levels

Very low in protein

My Conclusion

Dairy-free milk substitutes are a great alternative to cow’s milk and nowadays there are so many different ones to chose from, it’s all down to personal taste preference and dietary requirements, however, you should try to stick to unsweetened, Organic and ones fortified with Calcium and B12 to get health benefits similar to cow’s milk.


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