6 Alternatives To Cow's Milk

There's nut milk, coconut milk, and grain milk!

The demand for cow’s milk has plummeted for decades. According to Forbes, milk consumption in the US has dropped 36% since the 1970s, thanks to animal rights and environmental activists who have exposed the plights of cows and unhealthy milk production in dairy farms.

But the decrease in consumption in cow’s milk isn’t only because of environmental reasons. Over the years, a growing number of milk-based or milk-like products have catered to different types of consumers, such as the lactose intolerant, the elderly with fragile bones, health buffs, and hipsters constantly looking for the new “in” milk alternative. Whatever your reasons for shunning cow’s milk, there are plenty of options available in the market.

1. Soymilk

Also known as soya milk, soymilk is made from soaking, grinding, and boiling soybeans in water.

Nutritional value: A 250-g cup of full cream cow’s milk contains about 150 calories, while soymilk contains only 80-100 calories. Soymilk contains more protein than regular cow’s milk. Essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12 are nearly the same in soymilk and cow’s milk. [via Fit Day]

Pros: It’s a non-dairy product, so it’s perfect for the lactose intolerant. Soymilk also has lower cholesterol than cow’s milk.

Cons: Not fit for people with gout because soy increases high uric acid levels. The protein in cow’s milk is more effective in building muscle than soymilk. There are also studies that question the synthetic contents of soymilk, specifically phytoestrogen, which, when taken in excess, can cause estrogen overload. [via Everyday Health]

2. Nut milk

It’s made from soaking, grinding, and boiling nuts in water. The most common nuts used to make milk are almond, cashew, pistachio, and hazelnut. There are sweetened and flavored variants you can buy from the store,but those who prefer to go DIY can find many easy nut milk recipes online.

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Nutritional value: Contains 30-120 calories per cup. The most popular type, almond milk,is naturally fortified with calcium, minerals, and vitamins including D and B12, is high in antioxidants, and has no cholesterol or saturated fats. [Fit Day]

Pros: It has a longer shelf life than cow’s milk and is best for vegans and people with milk allergy and digestive problems.

Cons: Not safe for babies or people with peanut allergies. In the grocery, nut milk is more expensive than cow’s milk.

3. Coconut milk

Not to be confused with coconut water or juice, coconut milk is the liquid that is naturally extracted and sifted from the grated meat of brown coconut.

Nutritional value: At 50-100 calories per cup, coconut milk is rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. [via BBC Good Food]

Pros: Great for vegans and the lactose intolerant. Compared to cow’s milk, coconut milk is creamier, lower in sugar, and is processed in a more environmentally friendly way. [Healthy Eating]

Cons: Because it’s higher in natural oils, fresh coconut milk spoils faster than other types of milk.

4. Goat’s milk

Less popular than cow’s milk, goat’s milk isn’t easy to find in groceries and supermarkets. There’s a growing number of sellers that distribute processed and packed goat’s milk, but most people get them straight from the farm.

Nutritional value: Goat’s milk has smaller fat particles and less lactose than cow’s milk, but the nutritional content and calorie count is fairly similar. [via BBC Good Food]

Pros: Contains less lactose, less allergenic proteins, is easier to digest than cow’s milk, and is safe to give to babies. [via Parenting Magazine]

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Cons: Slightly more cholesterol than cow’s milk.

5. Grain milk

The most popular types of grain milk are rice, quinoa, and oat milk. Rice milk is made from a mixture of partially milled rice and water, while oat milk is made in a similar process using oats and other additive ingredients for more flavor. All types of grain milk have thin consistencies and are available in different flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate. A limited number of health stores carry grain milk, so a more practical option is to go DIY.

Nutritional value:Rice milk contains 70-160 calories per cup. An average cup of oat milk contains 4 g of protein, 130 calories, 2.5 g fat, 110 g sodium, 19 g sugar, 2 g fiber, and 24 grams of carbohydrates. Oat milk has no cholesterol and saturated fats. [source: Care2]

Pros: Best for vegans and those allergic to soya, dairy, or nuts.

Cons: Oat milk should be avoided by those allergic to gluten. Because rice milk is starchy and higher in carbs, it isn’t safe for the diabetic. Grain milk in general is very low in proteins and calcium. [via Fit Day]

6. Seed milk

It’s made from processing seeds and flavor enhancers in a blender. Some prefer consuming the pulp unstrained, with others use a strainer to extract a finer liquid. Common seeds used to make this milk are sunflower, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds.

Nutritional value: Seed milk has 70-190 calories per cup. [source: Next Avenue]

Pros: Best for vegans and those allergic to soya, dairy, or nuts. High in omegas and protein.

Cons: Seed milk is generally low in protein, and not everyone enjoys the acquired taste of hemp seed milk.

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