Student’s Corner

Which Plant-Based Milk is Best?

Many individuals choose to go dairy free for different reasons. Some may be lactose intolerant, others opt for a vegan lifestyle, and some simply like non dairy milk. In 2019, more than 53.72 billion dollars worth of dairy products were exported. That’s a lot of dairy and a huge impact on the environment. Cows require a lot of resources including land, fertilizer, food, and water to grow the food. Cows also generate methane, a chemical more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. 

With so many options on market shelves, how do you know which to pick? Here are a few alternatives to traditional dairy that you may want to consider for different reasons and purposes. 

  • Almond Milk

Pros: This milk has a dairy-like texture and can easily be found at markets. It has about ⅓ of the calories of cow’s milk and has less natural sugar than most cow’s milk.

Cons: Almond milk does not include the same amount of nutrients as raw almonds and can still have a high environmental impact since almonds take a lot of water to grow. 

  • Soy Milk

Pros: Soy milk has been around for many years and can be found sweetened, unsweetened, and is sold in a variety of flavors. It has more protein than cow’s milk and is low in saturated fats.

Cons: Some people are allergic to soy, making this not a viable option. Soy is one of the many foods that can be genetically modified, but there are non-GMO organic options available. 

  • Coconut Milk

Pros: This milk is a great source of potassium with 630mg per cup. It is low in cholesterol and sodium and is loaded with Vitamin B12.

Cons: Coconut milk has the highest amount of saturated fats of any common dairy alternatives. It can solidify and separate, making it undrinkable unless heated up. 

  • Rice Milk

Pros: Made from brown rice, this milk is a good option for people with food allergies since it does not have nuts, gluten, or soy. This tends to be the cheaper dairy alternative and is easy to make at home. 

Cons: Rice milk is low in protein and high in calories. It has a watery consistency, making it not a great cooking and making substitute. 

There are other alternatives available on the market today including oat, cashew, fla, macadamia, hemp, and hazelnut milk. Whether you choose to exempt dairy from your diet or simply want to try something new, it is best to do a quick search on which is right for you. 

Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022

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