Milk is milk is milk, right?
In the plant-based world, “milk” is a glorious mix of tasty varieties – each boasting their own set of benefits. Brands have become increasingly innovative at transforming nuts, seeds and vegetables into delicious, drinkable milk fit for the Queen’s cuppa tea! Given that an estimated 68% of the population have some level of lactose intolerance, the rise of plant-based milks could not have come at a better time.
You’re bound to find the dairy-alternative that suits you best amongst all the tasty plant-based options… And we’re here to make things simple! Not all plant-based milks are made equal, so what are the different types of plant-based milks, how are they made and what are their pros and cons?
1. Oat Milk
Oat milk is made by soaking oats in water, blending and then straining to create a creamy, tasty alternative to dairy milk. It is one of the most popular plant-based milks as its texture, consistency and slight natural sweetness make it perfect in a cappuccino or latte and for baking.
Oat milk is a great source of fibre and many brands strengthen it with additional nutrients like calcium, Vitamin A, B-12 and D – making it great for your bones, gut health and hair! Oats also have a lower impact on the environment as they are not water-intensive.
Due to gluten cross-contamination issues, oat milk is not suitable for celiacs or those with gluten-intolerance (unless the brand explicitly says so). Furthermore, oat milk manufacturers are known to add sugar, preservatives and flavourings during the product process, so be sure to check the box and opt for the unsweetened versions.
Top tip: For tea, cereal and baking, use regular unsweetened oat milk. For your morning coffee, we recommend a barista blend oat milk (designed for that ultimate foam and creaminess!). And if you’re wanting a tasty boost to get you through a long day, you have to go chocolate oat milk.
2. Potato Milk
Potatoes? Yup! The humble potato has made a comeback in the form of a dairy-free milk alternative. Made by peeling, boiling, blending and straining, potato milk is known for having a creamy, thick texture.
Pros: Potato milk is soy, milk, nut, lactose and gluten free, making it a healthy alternative if you’ve got certain allergies. It contains protein and calcium and is fortified with additional nutrients. Best of all? It’s the most sustainable milk alternative on the market!
Cons: Potato milk has less protein than other plant-based milks. This doesn’t stop us from drinking it though – we just make sure we’re getting our protein elsewhere!
Fun fact: There’s currently only one potato milk producer worldwide: DUG. Their potato-based products include original, barista blend and unsweetened milks.
3. Pea Milk
Rumour has it that pea milk is the closest tasting to cow’s milk. And don’t worry – you won’t be adding green liquid to your coffee as pea milk is actually made out of yellow split peas, not the green garden pea variety! These peas are milled into flour, the protein is then separated from fibre and starch and blended with water.
Pros: Naturally high in protein, pea milk is a great source of protein for plant-based eaters. Pea milk is also free from nuts, soy and dairy AND has a low carbon footprint! Given its likeness to cow’s milk, it’s a great alternative for anyone cautiously testing the plant-based waters.
Cons: As peas contain very little fat, producers may add vegetable oil and other additives to give it that extra boost of creaminess – so be sure to check the packaging.
Did you know? Coconut milk can be blended into pea milk so that you can froth, whisk, steam and blend it just as you would with conventional milk!
4. Almond Milk
You’ve likely seen the ever-popular almond milk being whisked around your favourite cafe. If potato milk is the new kid on the block, almond milk is an old-timer! Made from soaked and blended almonds, almond milk is a nutritious plant-based milk alternative.
Pros: Naturally high in Vitamin E, almond milks are often fortified with additional nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.
Cons: Almond milk is pretty low in protein and may contain added sweeteners.
5. Soya Milk
Another legume making waves in the plant-based world is the soy, or soya, bean. Soy milk is made from soaked, ground, boiled and filtered soybeans. Known for its smooth texture, it makes a great non-dairy milk alternative.
Pros: Naturally high in protein, soy milk boasts all nine essential amino acids. Also – it’s often fortified with additional nutrients.
Cons: Too much soy milk is not a good thing. Soya beans contain phytoestrogens, which mimic oestrogen and may impact your hormonal balance. So consume in moderation.
6. Coconut Milk
Mmm – we all know and love coconut milk as a wholesome addition to both sweet and savoury dishes! It’s made from the flesh of coconut, grated, boiled, blended and strained.
Pros: This creamy plant-based, nut-free milk alternative is a good source of healthy fats and fibre, and is high in potassium and magnesium (both super important minerals in the body with benefits like improved mood, better sleep and nervous system functioning).
Cons: Although coconut trees do not have a huge environmental impact, the fact that they can only grow in tropical areas means that growing demand worldwide puts pressure on local environments.
7. Rice Milk
Rice was first discovered almost 10 000 years ago and is a staple food across many different cultures. 10 000 years on and it’s the gift that keeps on giving – now in the form of a versatile plant-based milk alternative – rice milk! Similar to other plant-based milks, rice milk is made by grinding, filtering and blending rice with water.
Pros: Rice milk is a well-rounded and balanced plant-based milk alternative high in vitamin B and antioxidants!
Cons: As rice is high in starch, rice milk is also not suitable for diabetics.
There are so many delicious plant-based alternatives to milk, so take the time to experiment, try them out and figure out which works best for your needs and your taste buds. It’s always worth checking the ingredients list and making sure you’re choosing the option with no or fewer additives.
Final tip: Here at Zebra, we do all the quality-checks for you as we only stock up with the best that plant-based has to offer. Feel free to check out our range of plant-based milks!