PLANT MILKS- all you need to know


Going plant based? Lactose intolerant? Looking to try something new? There are so many dairy free milk options these days that it can seem a bit overwhelming to choose. Here I have laid out my favorite milk's nutritional profiles, environmental affects, and what I like to use them for. Enjoy!


*The nutrition facts are an estimate depending on the brand and are relevant to 1 cup


*Vitamins depend on the fortification of different brands


*Look at ingredient lists for additives. If you don't know what it is, you probably don't want it.







SOY milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 90

Carb: 5g

Dietary Fiber: 4g

Sugar: 1g

Fat: 4.5g

Pro: 9g

Sodium: 30mg

When purchasing soy make sure to purchase organic whenever possible as it can be very highly genetically modified. I would also recommend using minimally processed soy products such as tofu and tempeh. Food products like soy protein isolate are very refined and can have adverse effects on the body

Environmental Impact...

In terms of the environment, 80% of soy comes from the United States, Brazil, and Argentina. With that being said, as the demand for this popular plant protein grows so does the need for increased production. This leads to deforestation in those South American countries and can be slowed by responsible purchasing and responsible farming.

How I use...

I use soy milk for a neutral milk in sauces and baked goods as its protein content is great for combining with an acid to make a faux buttermilk. I also love it for my lattes as it froths very well!

 

ALMOND milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 30

Carb: 2g

Dietary Fiber: 1g

Sugar: <1g

Fat: 3g

Pro: 1g

Sodium: 180mg

Environmental Impact...

Almonds are one of the most popular nuts for milks and enjoying as a snack. This high demand means a lot of water use. California being one of the main locations for almond growth is quite dangerous as they are also very susceptible to droughts. The excessive water use to produce these foods is so huge that areas of CA are facing sinking farms as the land is being drained of its water along with increasing the intensity of these droughts simply to stay afloat. Also, bees are trucked in to CA to help pollenate lots of the almond trees at a time and many die during transportation and after pollination. Some say that the health benefits of Almonds don't out-way the costs as it takes away water, valuable farming land, and bees.

How I use...

I only tend to use almond milk when I am out and about for coffees or if I can't find another alternative. I think that occasional use is fine, and having some nuts on their own are fine as well, just within reason and not excessively.

 

OAT milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 130

Carb: 24g

Dietary Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 19g

Fat: 2.5

Pro: 4g

Sodium: 115mg

Environmental Impact...

Oats are a very cheap and sustainable for both food and milks. They are not as harmful on land as other crops, require a fraction of the water, and their counterparts can be reused. Oats promote soil diversity when rotated, reduce soil erosion, and can help control plant diseases. Overall they are a low input crop that helps prevent destructive organisms from growing!

How I use...

I love oat milk in my coffees and in my whole grain cereal. It is sweeter than other milks and a bit high in calories but totally worth it in my eyes. I also love adding it to my oatmeal or plant based rice pudding to make it super creamy!



HEMP milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 70

Carb: 1g

Dietary Fiber: 0g

Sugar: 0g

Fat: 6g

Pro: 2g

Sodium: 125mg

Environmental Impact...

Hemp seeds are a very sustainable option for farmers as they are and eco-friendly answer to soil pollution caused by corn mono-cropping. They are also great for farmers as they are a cash crop and can help keep farmers land and lives flourishing. Hemp is overall a very sustainable crop as it can be used for cotton, paper, a food source, and more!

How I use...

I use hemp milk in iced coffees and cereal mainly and tend to make it whenever I run out of plant milk as it is super easy to make in a high powered blender!

 

FLAX milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 25

Carb: 1g

Dietary Fiber: 0g

Sugar: 0g

Fat: 2.5g

Pro: 0g

Sodium: 80mg

Very good source of omegas and is low in carbohydrates.

Environmental Impact...

Flax is another sustainable crop as both its seeds can be used for food products and its plant stalk can be turned into linens. It is a multi-use crop that produces soil diversity and needs minimal land.

How I use...

I use flax milk occasionally in coffees or for baking. It is a much thinner milk so keep that in mind if you are going to use it. These tend to be fortified with more nutrients so if you are looking for some vitamin and minerals this would be a good option.

 

COCONUT milk

Nutrition...

Cal: 80

Carb: 7g

Dietary Fiber: 0g

Sugar: 6g

Fat: 5g

Pro: <1g

Sodium: 45mg

Environmental Impact...

Since coconuts are a tropical crop their transportation is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. They are also grown as a monocrop which can be quite invasive to the soil and many other species. As they age they tend to produce less, so farmers tend to uproot and plant newer trees. This sudden uprooting isn't good for the soil as it harms the biodiversity created by the native plants. It is also very important to buy organic and fair trade as that refers to the lack of chemical pesticides and fair wages for the workers.

How I use...

I use this more for sweets as it is very thick and creamy. Rice puddings, whipped cream, and coconut curries are where I tend to use this the most.

 

Overall, there are many pros and cons to each plant milk as you can see. It is up to you whether you go by taste preference, nutritional profile, or environmental impact. Either way all are great alternatives and can be made at home just as easily as they can be bought!

How I make my nut milks:

Soak 1 cup of nuts overnight, then blend the nuts with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Blend for 1 minute and 30 seconds. This can be super customizable- if you like it sweet, add a date or a tbsp of maple syrup, if you want a vanilla milk add a tsp of vanilla extract, or even make a chocolate milk with some dates and cacao powder! Just remember to strain with a nut-milk bag at the end and use in 3-4 days!


How I make my seed/ oat milks:

I use 1 part seeds/ oats and 4 parts water. I do not soak this time, just blend, strain, and enjoy!


My Favorite Brands:

I love Pacific Foods, Malk, Good Karma, Oatly, and Califia Farms.

Not to mention the ones I make right in my kitchen :)

Hope you enjoyed and are now an expert on alternatives to dairy!

#Plantmilk #