So you can’t drink cow’s milk? Don’t fret! There are plenty of options out there to fill the void. I think the toughest part is deciding what your substitute will be. I’d say first and foremost, flavor plays a big role in this decision. Also, you should ask yourself what will you be using this substitute for? Baking? Cereal? Coffee? Or all on it’s own? I’ve found that some are good for all these options whereas others work best as just one solution. By personal research and preference only, here’s my take on four popular cow’s milk substitutions.
Soy Milk – I often hear from those who have recently found out they’re sensitive to cow’s milk that soy milk is the first they turn to. These folks tell me this is because it’s well known, and easy to find. I did this, however, I urge you to research the effects soy products can have on your body before you make this switch. There is a wonderful book called ‘The Whole Soy Story’ by Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel that explores and suggests the harmful effects over consumption of soy can have on the body. What plays into this as well, is that folks who turn to soy milk as a cow’s milk substitute also turn to soy products to replace their cow’s milk yogurt, cheese, ice cream, cream cheese, etc. which moves farther and farther away from your body’s need for variety.
Almond Milk – Given how this is made (ground almonds, water added, and strained) it was the natural choice for both Jackie & I. Almonds, to begin with, are packed with nutritional goodies like calcium and magnesium (think strong bones, people!). Therefore, unlike most rice milks, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Almonds are a part of the ‘good fat’ family which is said to reduce your risk of cancer and increase your body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins. If that’s not enough, the other bonus is that almond milk is an incredible substitute for cow’s milk in baking. I regularly use it cup for cup in recipes and have never found a difference in flavor or texture (just remember to use the flavorless kind in baking). It also seems to be the most popular with kids, at least in my family.
Hemp Milk – I discovered this milk on a trip to Vancouver Island and was immediately intrigued. I’ve always been a lover of Halva, which is made partially from hemp seeds, so I am used to the distinct flavor. However, if you are drinking this straight you may find the nutty flavor an acquired taste. I prefer it on it’s own rather than an addition to tea or baking. By those who stand by it, hemp milk is said to be a great vegetarian source of protien because of the amino acids it contains. Similar to almond milk, the seeds themselves are loaded with vitamins and minerals so no fortification is required.
Rice Milk – This has the same production process as the others: rice and water strained and pressed to express the ‘milk’. However, because rice doesn’t have a ton of nutrients to begin with, the milk isn’t any better. This results in the manufacturers fortifying the beverage with vitamins and calcium. I find the result to be too watery, and I dislike the fact that it separates when mixed with hot substances.
Something worth noting is that all these alternative milks can be made at home in a jiffy with pretty minimal equipment (and yes, we are working on bringing this to Willowtree readers very soon!). As with most store bought brands, many of these alternative milks may contain natural and/or artificial sweeteners, where good ol’ home cooking is the best way to avoid these. As always, please do your research and make your own informed choices about what you choose to put in your body. You are the best resource for what suits your body best.
7 Responses to Soy, Almond, Hemp or Rice Milk: How Do I Choose?
I drink cow’s milk but have looked at other options as well. I tried soy milk because I love the taste, but it turns out that I get rashes if I drink too much of it! Wow. The rice milk leaves an aftertaste in my mouth. The best one that I crave for and can enjoy without any issue is almond milk. I haven’t tried baking with it, but would love to try. Cup for cup — I’ll keep that in mind! Ever tried it for making pancakes?
We use almond milk for so, so many things, especially baking! We find it’s thickness is perfect for pancakes. It’s a favorite, that’s for sure!
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i switched from soy to almond milk because i keep hearing negative things about soy and the hormones in it. im glad i looked this sight up. thanks. my family is enjoying almond milk. i have found hemp to be the best for lattes. yhanks again.
Hemp is delicious in lattes! I guess it’s the nutty flavor that goes great with the coffee. Thanks for sharing Jaime
Because almonds are naturally very nutritious, almond milk doesn’t need to be fortified. You can make almond milk yourself at home, and it will have the same nutritional value as the almond milk available commercially.
I just heard about hemp milk and am a strong believer in hemp products. I haven’t tried it out but am fascinated by all the nutrients and vitamins it contains naturally. I bought a small box of hemp milk from whole foods but since I still have rice milk I’ll finish that before I open my hemp milk. I was disappointed to hear that rice milk does not have natural nutrients and vitamins and is fortified but am looking forward to trying hemp milk.