Following on from my “Some Gouda ideas for Cheese alternatives” post I am now looking at milk alternatives. Sorry about the cheeeeesy titles, am I milking the situation?
As you all know by now I struggle with dairy products, especially milk and cream, so I moved on to drinking herbal teas and made a conscious effort to cut a lot of dairy out of my life. But for things like breakfast cereal I moved straight on to using unsweetened soya milk. I hadn’t even thought about other types of milk available or whether soya milk is good for me etc.
Since the loose theme of my vegan Mofo month is “making the transition” to being vegan (looking at what I may need to think about if I made the jump) I thought I would look at different types of dairy free milk available…and their pros and cons! I’m going to look at taste, ingredients (i.e. how processed they are), and good and bad health aspects.
I have photographed the brands I purchased in Sainsburys however there are other brands and other types of milk I’m not discussing today. Also I am not a nutritionist or a doctor etc so if you want further information into how different milks may affect your own health then please seek further advice. Oh and also just because I think something tastes disgusting doesn’t mean you will! So give it all a try
Unsweetened Soya Milk
Taste Test: I’m not the sort of person who would sit and drink a glass of milk so I’ve never really tasted soya milk without it being mixed into a smoothie or cereal. It was interesting as it tasted creamy but slightly ‘woody’ with a slight after tang. I actually didn’t like it much on its own it was a bit strong for me but I have never found it too over powering in cereal.
Ingredients: (Sainsburys unsweetened soya as pictured) - Water, Hulled Soya Beans, Inulin (a plant extract commonly used in processed foods because of how adaptable it is. It can replace sugar, fat and flour in a recipe), Tri-calcium Phosphate (the added calcium, derived from in organic sources such as mineral rock), Sea Salt, Gellen Gum (also known as E418!!! It is sourced from bacteria that grows on an aquatic plant and it thickens the milk), Natural Flavouring (whatever this is?), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Bitamin B6, Ribovlavin, Folic Acid (good for women), Vitamin B12.
Pros: Most brands I looked at have added calcium which can provide up to 3 times the amount of calcium than unfortified soya milk which is great because I wasn’t sure I was getting enough calcium when I cut out all dairy (although some research suggests that dairy is a bad form of calcium for your bodies anyway). It also contains protein, folic acid and vitamins.
Looking at the ingredients it seems a bit too processed for my liking but also everything is sourced from nature. I was worried it would all have been created in a lab somewhere.
It is lactose free which was my main reason for moving over to it, but it’s also vegan which is obviously another good factor! It is also lower in saturated fat than normal milk!
Cons: It can upset your stomach and a lot of people are allergic to Soy products so be careful if you’re not sure.
I found a really interesting article on The Guardian highlighting health issues such as the raised levels of plant oestrogens “a woman drinking two glasses of soya milk a day over the course of a month will see the timing of her menstrual cycle alter. It has been estimated that infants who are fed soya formula exclusively receive an amount of oestrogen equivalent to five birth control pills every day” also causing infertility in men, increased risks in cancer and environmental issues such as the effect of growing soy on the rainforest – “Soya now occupies more land in Argentina than all other crops added together, covering more than half the country’s arable land. It is predicted that 10,000 hectares of forest is being lost every year – the equivalent of 20 football fields an hour. If this continues, in five years’ time the country’s native forests will disappear completely.”
I’m someone who has struggled with hormone balances over the last 5 years so this does worry me. Also I had noticed that after drinking a soya smoothie every day my skin flared up (again something I’ve struggled with since being 15!) This may be a coincidence but I’ve decided to cut out soya for a few weeks and diarise any differences!
Provamel Organic Rice Milk
Taste Test: I didn’t find it as strong as soya milk, it was kind of just non descript! It definitely wasn’t offensive but again I would never sit and drink a glass of it alone. Texture wise it was a bit thin but over all not bad
Ingredients: Water, Organic Rice, Organic Sunflower oil (I’m guessing to give it a glossy finish?), Emulsifier: Rapeseed Lecithin (apparently rapeseed is used instead of soya lectihin due to allergies and also for GMO issues in soya beans), Sea Salt
Pros: Ok so a much smaller list of ingredients for this milk which I like! It is very low in fat and it is cholesterol free which is always a bonus however I would never want to sacrifice high nutrition for low fats so I’m not sure if this really is an advantage. If you are only swapping your milk choices to lose weight then consider this little fact from Fitday website “rice milk still contains more fat than skimmed cow’s milk, which contains less than half a gram of fat per one cup serving.“
If you’re swapping because your vegan/ lactose intolerant then this is a good choice as it is completely devoid of animal products and it does contain some calcium.
Cons: It really doesn’t have much nutritional value. If you want everything you eat to do some good in your body then maybe choose a different milk. My mum’s homeopathic doctor (guru) who also happens to be Indian said that rice milk is a waste product from over boiling rice and has no nutritional value.
Oatly Organic Oat Milk
Taste Test: It tastes very sweet and the texture is very watery (as you can see in the photo). I’m not sure I liked it but I’m starting to wonder after writing this if actually I just don’t like milk in general – woops! I think this milk would be great on some plain muesli to perk it up or even used to make some sweet porridge! It didn’t have an after taste like soya milk which is good.
Ingredients: Oat base (water, oats* 10%), sea salt.
Pros: I’m shocked by the ingredients because I generally thought it would have some added sugars etc. Three simple ingredients – oats, water and salt! Yay!
According to Oatly’s website it contains a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, fibre and beneficial fats. They also say oats are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat but they’re a little bias!
Over all though this is a seemingly low processed, natural and healthy milk option.
Cons: Nutrition Diva points out that “Oat milk offers fiber as well as a moderate amount of protein, about 4 grams per serving. However, it is on the higher end in terms of sugar and calories.”
I don’t think there are any dangers in over doing the oat milk, so far apart from the watery look to it and the slightly sweet taste (most people would like this but I don’t have a sweet tooth!) I think this is a good option and I’ll be trying it more often.
Alpro Almond Milk
Taste Test: This was the one I was most excited about trying because I have heard so many people talk about nut milks and how good they are for you etc. I was surprised at how sweet it was (I wasn’t surprised when I saw the ingredients) and that it didn’t taste nice and nutty like I wanted it too. Don’t get me wrong you could taste almonds but they were masked under sweetness. The texture was nice though and it felt creamy.
Ingredients: (remember these ingredients are listed by largest amount first) Water, Sugar (!!), Almond (2%), Tri-calcium phosphate (the added calcium, derived from in organic sources such as mineral rock), Sea salt, Stabilisers (Locust Bean gum, Gellan gum), Emulsifier (Sunflower lecithin), Vitamins (Riboflavin (B2), B12, E, D2)
There is more sugar than almonds in this milk! How can they market this as a healthy option?!
Pros: If you have a sweet tooth this tastes great and would be perfect for desserts or stirring into a hot chocolate. Puttin the actual brand aside and looking purely at almond milk then it’s good to remember that Almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts you can eat, they are a great source of protein and Nut Farm website says - “20 – 25 almonds contain as much calcium as 1/4 cup of milk. They contain a lot of protective nutrients, help fight heart disease and lower cholesterol”
You can make your own nut milk using just nuts and water! Here is a great step by step guide from Choose Raw – Home made Almond Milk
Cons: Almonds (like most nuts) can be high in fats, some brands of almond milk are reduced fat which is handy if you are watching your weight. For me I don’t drink a lot of milk so a small amount of nutritionally dense fat can be excused. 1 cup of almonds can contain up to 47g of fat but don’t forget that for every cup of almonds you are using you add 4 cups of water – so to consume 1 cup of almonds your having to drink a whole lot of milk!
Sooo that is my little look at dairy free milks. I hope you found it interesting! Do you have a favourite dairy free milk? Did I miss off an important health aspect? Do you prefer a sweeter milk or something a bit more earthy?