Cow’s milk has quite a brilliant nutrient profile but if you’ve watched Cowspiracy, you probably don’t care. Luckily most alternatives are fortified with essential minerals found in cow’s milk like Calcium and B Vitamins. Whether it’s a dietary requirement or a personal choice, the glass is half full because there’s a myriad of dairy-free alternatives. But which one is the best for you? Read on to find out.
In case you didn’t know, it’s made from oats and is arguably the best tasting option (biased). It has a mild sweet flavour and is highly popular in the coffee drinking community. Nutritionally it has around double the amount of carbs as cow’s milk with less protein and fat.
Soya milk alternatives are made by soaking and grinding soybeans before thickeners and vegetable oils are added to improve taste and consistency. Compared to cow’s milk, it has a similar protein profile but half the fat and carb content.
With a creamy, sweet taste, the texture of coconut milk is similar to that of skimmed milk, making it a popular latte option. It’s made from the white flesh of mature brown coconuts and water. It’s the lowest calorie option of the milks and has half the carbs of whole milk but significantly less fats and protein.
A subtle sweet and nutty flavour, this hugely popular option is a blend of almonds or almond butter with spring water. Nutritionally it’s a good, low calorie option with less carbs and fats as cow’s milk (but less protein). If you have a nut allergy then almond milk probably isn’t the best option for you.
Sounds a bit random but it is growing in popularity. Cashew milk is made from a combination of water with cashew nuts or butter. Similarly to almond milk, if you’re allergic to nuts then maybe steer clear of this one.
Of all the dairy alternatives, rice milk is the least allergenic, making it a safe option for those allergic to cow’s milk, nuts, soy, lactose or gluten. With a slight watery consistency, it is a sweet tasting option with roughly double the amount of calories and carbs as cow’s milk.
Here is a side by side nutritional comparison of the main milks. The milks come in different forms such as “unsweetened” or with “no sugars”. We’ll be looking at the original options, using Alpro as the brand for consistency.
Dr Alexander, MB ChB, BSc (Hons) - Senior Writer