As the number of vegans increase, so does the number of plant-based alternatives to dairy milks.
Take a walk down any isle of a UK supermarket and you’ll be confronted with rows of dairy-free “milks”. There are so many to choose from that vegans just want to try them all!
The growing realisation that the dairy industry is just as cruel as the meat industry and dairy products really aren’t that healthy or natural, has fuelled an astonishing industry of plant-based milks. The number of new brands that constantly appear on the market astounds even me – given the fact they are so easy to make, I cannot understand why dairy farmers don’t just give up and start producing almond milk to be honest.
When I first became vegetarian more than 25 years ago, there was one brand of rather tasteless soya milk available from the local health food shop. It actually took me a while to get to grips with the taste of soya milk when I first became vegan, but I certainly found the sweetened variety much more palatable.
I did make my own soya milk a few times. All you need is soya beans, muslin, water and some vanilla extract to sweeten. However, it is very messy and to be truly economical, you need to use the leftover soya mush in a stew as soon as you’ve made your “milk”. You can make your own almond milk if you have a blender too I’m told. Basically, all you are doing when you’re making these “milks” is producing bean or nut juice by boiling (soya) or soaking then blending (almond). A quick Google will provide you with plenty of ideas if you fancy going down the DIY route.
So now we have such a huge choice, the question is which one? Well, if you’re just going to use it in drinks and on cereal, it’s a question of taste really. I personally, go for coconut milk in tea and coffee and as I prefer savoury breakfasts the cereal issue doesn’t arise.
I don’t like rice milk, however. I find it thin and think it tastes like dishwater – although generally I try to avoid tasting dishwater too! But it is sweet, for those with a sweeter tooth than me and it’s very low in fat.
It has to be said that soya is the cheaper option and many supermarkets have their own budget versions now. Again, this is a sign of the times and shows the rocketing popularity of dairy alternatives.
If you’re after protein, then oat milk is your best bet – it’s rammed full of the stuff – in fact, it has more protein than taste. So I guess it’s good for athletes. Although, the dishwater option is good for carbohydrates if you want to bulk up with those carbs!
You might also want to check if a particular “milk” has been fortified. Many have calcium or B12 added and vegans sometimes seek this out – of course, all nutrients are available in a balanced diet, but this can be another weight on the right side of the seesaw.
Hazelnut milk is good in coffee, it foams better than soya or almond milk, doesn’t curdle and compliments the flavour well. Cashew is another entry to the market – and again it has a sweet taste I’m told. I haven’t tried it – but I have made a Parmesan alternative and a “cheese” sauce alternative using cashews, and they were both delicious.
Hemp milk is another favourite of mine, but it is generally more expensive than its rivals. However, it is very creamy, full of calcium and contains all 10 essential amino acids. Remember, hemp seeds are a “super food”, and the milk is made from said seeds.
Finally, another dairy alternative is no milk at all! Many people enjoy black tea and coffee, or don’t drink either at all. Others – like me – aren’t cereal fans, and if they are, well, porridge can be made with water and I here muesli works just fine with orange juice. In fact, most cereals will work with water or juice.