Dairy milk is a staple on most breakfast tables. Its nutritional benefits combined with its familiar taste pair well with cereals, and in waffles and pancakes. Adding dairy milk to coffee adds sweetness, and offsets bitterness. But what about vegans? Here is a guide to the common plant milks, a vegan alternatives to diary.
Plant-based milks are the widely used alternative for vegans or those who have an allergy to dairy. They are accessible and readily available in most supermarkets or convenience stores.
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In this guide to plant-based milks, I will introduce 10 types of plant-based milk alternatives you can try.
What are plant milks?
Plant-based milk is a great cow’s milk alternative for those who don’t or can’t drink milk from cows, sheep, or goats. Many people have lactose intolerance and experience allergies when they drink milk. These plant milks are a brilliant option for them and vegans.
Most plant milks are made from seeds, nuts, or legumes. To make plant milk, the main ingredient is soaked in water and ground into a puree. Then the mixture is strained removing all the fibres, giving a texture similar to dairy milk.
With the higher demand for plant-based milks the range available is increasing. Plant-based milks are available sweetened or unsweetened.
Vegetable oils in plant milks
Some plant milks contain vegetable oils, with contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. These oils have been reported as containing high levels of Omega 6.
Some people wish to limit the amount of Omega 6 they consumer, particularly looking at the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. If so, you should pay close attention to the ingredients of the plant milk, and avoid any with added oil, especially vegetable oils.
10 types of plant milks
With many plant milk choices available, I narrowed it down to the 10 most commonly used plant-based milks. If you are new to plant milk, this guide to plant-based milks can help your journey.
Almond milk is one of the most popular plant-based milks.
To make almond milk, almonds are first soaked, then ground and added to water, then strained. Almond grow in hot and dry conditions, but need water; the crop has become a concern for many environmentalists. Also, making almond milk uses a significant amount of water due to the pre-soaking needed.
Almond milk has a natural sweetness with a thick and rich consistency.
With its naturally sweet and creamy texture, coconut milk is a popular plant-based milk alternative for baking and cooking. Coconut milk has a higher saturated fat content. This doesn’t mean that it is unhealthy.
The saturated fat in coconut milk can help increase good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and boost the immune system.
If you are looking for a sustainable, affordable, and delicious plant milk option, coconut milk is a great choice.
Don’t confuse coconut milk drink with coconut milk for coking – read my guide to coconut milk.
Even with the growing popularity of almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk, soy milk is still one of the most popular plant milk options. Soy milk is one of the first plant-based milk to enter the market.
Soy milk is a popular drink in many Asian countries. This is due to soy milk’s creamy texture and delicious taste. Soy milk has a thicker consistency than rice milk but is thinner than to oat milk.
Soy milk can be enjoyed as a drink or for cooking sauces, soups, and other creamy dishes.
It is really easy to make soy milk in a soup maker!
If you are searching for thick, creamy plant milk, you should definitely try oat milk. Compared to nut milks, oat milk has a naturally creamy consistency because oats absorb more water.
When it comes to consistency, oat milk is the closest to dairy milk. For taste, oat milk has a more neutral flavour unlike cashew milk or hemp milk which are sweeter.
Oat milk can be used as coffee creamers or added to smoothies or shakes.
But if you are drinking an espresso, oat milk will hide its flavours. It is best to use almond milk for espressos.
Hemp milk is rich in essential amino acids, Omega 3, vitamins and minerals.
Similar to oat milk, hemp milk has the same thick consistency and neutral flavour as oat milk, but with a slightly sweet flavour. This plant milk can be enjoyed as is or used in cooking creamy dishes.
Just check whether the plant-based milk is sweetened or unsweetened before using it in cooking.
Just like almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk, cashew milk contains numerous healthy fats, vitamins and minerals which the body needs.
Cashew milk has a rich and creamy consistency and nutty taste which is ideal for cooking rich creamy dishes. This plant milk is perfect for making smoothies or can be added to dark roast coffee. However, this plant-based milk is a bit on the pricey side.
Compared to soy milk, oat milk, and hemp milk, pea milk has an earthier flavour with high levels of protein. As a result, you might want to use other plant-based milks if you have a sensitive palate such as almond milk or rice milk.
Pea milk can be used for smoothies or in cooking complex dishes.
Rice milk might not be the best plant milk alternative if you are planning to drink it as is. Compared to other plant-based milks, rice milk has a thinner consistency. It is ideal for making soups due to its thin consistency and neutral flavour.
If you have nut allergies, flax milk may be an acceptable alternative for you. Just like nut milk, flaxseed milk has a nutty and earthy flavour, without containing any nuts.
You can use this plant milk for smoothies, baked goods, and most recipes that need milk. This plant milk can also be enjoyed as is or with cereal.
This plant-based milk has a rich, smooth, and full-bodied taste with fruity undertones which is unlike other nut milk.
Our top Plant Milk recipes
Due to its rarity, macadamia milk is a more expensive option compared to other alternatives. Also, macadamia trees are very difficult to grow. As of today, there is only one brand of this plant milk available in the market but you can also make it at home.
With the growing demand for cow milk or non-dairy milk alternative, plant-based milk is gaining popularity. That is not just for the environmental impact of milk from cows, sheep, and goats but also because many people are searching for healthier options.
Depending on your preferences or application, there are many plant-based milk alternatives you can try.