Dairy isn’t exactly good for you, but you probably already knew that. However, skipping out on milk and cheese and yogurt can all be quite difficult when you’re living in the US. So, what are some of the best non-dairy options for milk? After all, you still want to be able to cook and eat cereal without getting too much dairy intake. Let’s look at some of the dairy-free favorites.
Best Milk Substitutes
Why Avoid Milk?
Dairy in general is a substance that many people in the world choose to avoid. Globally, about three out of every four people are lactose intolerant. In fact, America is a bit unusual in that it is comprised of so many people that can process dairy. So, if you’ve got lactose intolerance, don’t feel bad, it just means that you’re like most of the species!
Another reason to avoid dairy is that it’s just flat-out not good for you. Very high in fat, very high in sugar and lacking in many nutrients, milk is something of a weird cultural artifact in American cuisine. It’s one claim to nutrition, that it helps build strong bones through its calcium, is actually debated by many nutritionists as being misleading. After all, almonds, figs and kale are all much better sources of calcium, and they’re much better for your body.
One of the first substitutes for milk anyone will mention is almond milk. It’s common, relatively inexpensive and full of calcium. In fact, if your main reason to drink milk was for the calcium to help build up strong bones, then almond milk is perfect for you. The flavor has been described as being more “watery” than cow’s milk, but when used in cooking or cereal it’s hard to notice the difference.
There’s notably much less fat and much fewer calories in almond milk than cow’s milk. There’s also lower protein and lower in carbs, and almond milk is one of the least-fattening milk substitutes. If you’re trying to watch your calorie intake and still get plenty of calcium, then almond milk is likely the right substitute for you.
Don’t let half-formed concerns fool you: soy milk is a great replacement for milk if you’re lactose intolerant or just don’t like consuming animal products. This drink is created from soybeans or soy protein isolate, and it is usually thickened by various agents and vegetable oils to help the drink’s consistency.
Soy milk has a similar concentration of protein as cow’s milk, but it has decidedly less fat, carbs and calories. Soy is also a major source of “complete” proteins that include the full range of amino acids that you have to acquire from your food and can’t create on your own. Contrary to what some internet theories claim, there’s also no evidence that soy milk adversely affects any hormone receptors in the body. Soy milk is perfectly safe and healthy for normal adults to drink.
A very simple milk substitute, oat milk is essentially just oats and water. Often, oils, salts and gums are added to the mix to give the beverage a more “milk-like” texture and taste. Oat milk is popular in cooking, mixed into smoothies and in cereal. It has been noted as being a very close reproduction of the flavor and texture of cow’s milk.
Notably, oat milk is actually not as good for you as some of the other substitutes available. It’s got double the carbs, the same amount of calories and half of the protein of milk. Thankfully, it also contains half the fat that milk does. However, for those on a diet or watching their calories, oat milk might not be the best substitute.