Updated: Apr 1
Plant-based milks, such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, rice milk etc, are often lined up in the refrigerator shelves of most supermarkets these days. Consumers today are often faced with a lot of questions. How do you make milk from a nut, bean or seed? What is the nutrient profile of plant-based milks compared to cow’s milk? Do you really need to consume milk? Are plant-based milks healthy?
Plant-based alternatives are made by grinding grains, beans, or nuts, and adding water and other ingredients. Nutrients like calcium and vitamin D are usually similar between plant-based and cows milk, but fat, protein and carbohydrate levels vary depending on the type of plant-based milk. The nutrient content of plant-based dairy counterparts can vary significantly based on their brands, manufactures, and flavours. So, experts urge milk drinkers to read the labels and make choices based on nutrition, price and preferences.
Do you really need milk? Research suggests that cows milk may not be as important as we have been made to believe. Calcium deficiencies, a reason why people are so persistent on milk consumption, can also be treated and prevented by the consumption of foods rich in calcium such as green veggies, beans, and milk produced from nuts like almond milk and soy milk. Non consumption of dairy has also been linked with reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Hormone imbalances can also be averted by stopping the consumption of dairy.
So which milk is better? Plant-based milks are superior to cow's milk when it comes to the environment. Plants used in alternative milk beverages require less land, water, fertiliser, and energy than cows. The dairy industry is a major contributor to climate change and environmental degradation? One liter of cow’s milk emits 3x more greenhouse gases than one liter of soy milk, and requires more than 22x more water and 12x more land. So, if you're looking to reduce your carbon footprint, plant-based is the way to go.
Plant-based milks are also becoming more popular as people prefer the taste and the variety of flavors. It is also preferred by people who are allergic or intolerant to milk. Nearly half of U.S. and European consumers are already purchasing plant-based milk. In Asian and Latin American countries, the figure is more than two-thirds, making plant-based milk the top-selling product of all plant-based meat and dairy alternatives.
Fun fact: On average, unsweetened calcium-fortified soy milk is the most nutritionally equivalent to animal-based dairy products, so it is a good alternative to cows milk.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in this article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.