With all the milk alternatives available nowadays, it’s hard to know which to choose. There’s soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, almond milk, hemp milk, oat milk – the list goes on. Beyond that, there’s original/plain, sweetened/vanilla flavors and different brands to choose from. Sales of cow’s milk have been on a slow, but continuous decline over the past decade and with all the non-dairy options available, I’m willing to bet this trend will continue (*fingers crossed*). As I’m sure you’ve noticed Blue Diamond and Silk have been battling on the almond milk front – which is lucky for us, because you can get coupons just about every time you buy almond milk. Soy is still the number one contender in the milk-alternative popularity contest, but with all the attention on the non-dairy milks let’s look at a brief breakdown on each pseudo-milk.
- Pros: Readily available (in many other countries too). People are most familiar with it. Usually works well in recipes (I don’t recommend microwaving it a ton though). Thicker than rice and almond milks. Usually cheapest.
- Cons: Nutty aftertaste – generally acquired. Gas or tummy aches for some. Scientific findings have led some to believe that too much soy can have negative consequences on your body – like promoting excess estrogen, but other findings show positive benefits like reduced risk of breast cancer in women. With the unknowns, I like to error on the side of caution so I somewhat limit my soy intake so that I don’t have it too much, since it’s in a lot of products anyway.
- Pros: Terrific with rice krispies cereal. If you like it, it has a pure, refreshing kind of taste. Substitutes fine in most recipes.
- Cons: Acquired taste for most people. Thin consistency (which isn’t necessarily a con). Higher carbs and lower protein than the others.
- Pros: Slightly almondy-taste. Consistency is between soy and rice. Works well in every recipe I’ve tried. You’ll probably get a coupon every time you buy it. This is my favorite – the original kind.
- Cons: There’s not a whole lot of almonds in it and therefore not a strong nutritional content. Personally, I can’t think of anything else, but some people don’t like the almondy hint.
Other: If you really like coconut, you may want to try coconut milk. Vanilla or semi-sweetened hemp milk is pretty good, but unflavored isn’t my jam. It may be less accessible than the other varieties, but if you don’t like fancy soy/rice/almond, try the other kinds! I’ve heard good things about oat milk, but haven’t tried it.
In the end, it’s something you just need to try for yourself. Everyone has different taste buds and may want different things out of their milk alternative – depending upon whether you plan to put it on your cereal, bake with it, or just drink it out of the carton. Unless you’re really worried about iron/calcium, the differences are pretty trivial and often these milks are fortified anyway. Price (generally the cheapest way to go is in boxes, not in the refrigerated containers) may also be a determining factor. I went from soy milk to rice milk to now drinking almond milk. Talk to other people about what they like, but don’t be afraid to try different kinds.