Diet spotlight: Milk, not milk


Like all mammals, human babies drink their mother’s milk. But humans are the only mammals to continue drinking milk – from other animals – for the rest of their lives. That is until recently when, with the growing popularity of veganism, the higher incidence of lactose intolerance and concern over antibiotics passed on in cow milk, plant-based milk beverages have grown in popularity.

The challenge for many of us who have only ever had “real” milk, is figuring out which milk alternative is best. Here’s a rundown of what’s what:

Almond milk: One of the first milky alternatives widely available, almond milk has been around since the Middle Ages. It’s low in calories, high in vitamins and minerals, and has the highest levels of calcium among the nut family. Where it falls short is in protein – almond milk only has about one-eighth of the protein cow’s milk does – and, depending on the brand you buy, it can be quite watery.

Soy milk: It’s the least processed of all dairy-alternatives, highest in protein and low in saturated fat. The downside of soy milk? It may cause inflammation, upset your stomach or give you gas. By the way, soy milk’s reputation for increasing estrogen in men is not backed up by science.

Cashew milk: This milk provides a good source of fiber, antioxidants, copper and magnesium. It’s also pretty low in protein, so you’ll want to make sure you get needed protein from other sources. Its thick texture may take some getting used to.

Hemp milk: While it is made from cannabis, don’t expect to get high from it – hemp milk is made from the plant’s seeds, not its leaves. Hemp milk is nutty tasting, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of protein. Unlike soy milk, it doesn’t contain the sugars that can cause gas. Any cons? It’s low in calcium so you’ll want to supplement your diet to keep your bones healthy – and it can be more expensive than other milk alternatives.

Coconut milk: Naturally sweet, this milk is high in healthy fat, vitamins and potassium. Stick with coconut milk sold in cartons, the varieties sold in cans tend to be high in calories, often from high amounts of saturated fats.

Oat milk: A relatively new kid of the block, oat milk tends to be cheaper than many nut milks and it may be more environmentally friendly. It has a creamier texture than many nut milks too and it’s a good choice for people who are lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant or allergic to nuts. It’s also high in fiber, high in carbohydrates and, while it has less protein than cow’s milk, it’s has more than milk from almonds, cashews and coconuts.

Which tastes the best? Our vote goes to oat milk but you should test them out for yourself.

What’s your favourite? Share your experiences with the Shop Talk blog forum now!

Did you know: Royal beverage

In ancient Egypt, milk and other dairy products like cheese were reserved for royalty, priests and the very wealthy.  (Source)

87 thoughts on “Diet spotlight: Milk, not milk

  1. I have tried all of the nut milks, and my favorite is unsweetened almond milk. I look forward to trying the oat milk.

  2. According to my internist I am Lactose intolerant.
    I have always enjoyed cows milk and have not, nor will I go the vegan route.
    But I will try the Oat Milk. The only reason being that my fav of the lactose milks has been out of stock in all of our grocery chains for over 2 weeks!
    One more thing tho. Considering the strict regulations with antibiotics in cows milk, please rethink.
    Our animals do not receive antibiotics, except for shipping fever and there is a very strict time period between the injections and any shipping date.
    Antibiotics tho are transferred from Mother to infant worldwide, daily. As are diseases or toxins in bottled milk due to poor processing or rusted cans.
    So please, for once lay off the farmer! We are doing the very best that we can.

  3. Almond coconut milk is a lovely mixture.. I have never seen oat milk but would definitely give it a try
    Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I always buy coconut,cashew or almond or a blend of coconut almond milk to drink or use in my cereal or oatmeal. I love it!

  5. I have never heard of its milk. Very interesting read. You hear so much good or bad and never know what the truth is because of bias.

  6. I’ve always been lactose intolerant…& soy milk is the way to go. I have gave my kids cows milk since they were little….recently got them to drink soy milk and they absolutely love it. I’m so glad there are alternatives …

    1. Great article! I am choosing to eat plant based or some call it vegan. I do not eat dairy or meat products anymore. For my health, animals health and the environment’s health.

  7. I am hoping that the change to more of a plant based diet will be a progressive change over time. The government of Canada is to controlling of the population as it is legislation and taxation to force this would have a negative impact on this process for myself and I’m sure many others. This should be a matter of choice not law! I’m all for these changes for the health and many other reasons but legislative control is BS. That the good and bad of it in my view!

  8. I have been drinking soy, almond drink since it came out about 40 years ago. Have you even gone by a field and saw a human laying down and drinking from a cow?
    So change today and treat yourself better.

  9. I’ve tried the cashew milk and yes it is a little thicker but it tastes great, however, Almond milk is my absolute favourite. I have also tried soy milk but was a little put off because the soy is genetically modified and I try to stay away from gmo’s. Also, I enjoyed the rice milk, again it’s very good tasting and not too thick at all, much like Almond milk. I have been vegetarian all my life, and finding this milk alternative has been just great. After 53 years, I too, can enjoy a glass of milk. Thanks to these products.

  10. Antibiotics in milk ??? Know the facts.
    This article mentions antibiotics in milk but does not dismiss the myths involved like it does with some of the alternatives. Yes – cow’s may be treated with antibiotics if they are sick. It would be inhumane not to treat sick or injured animals that may require veterinary care. If a dairy cow requires treatment with an antibiotic the milk is not used for human consumption until the withdrawal time for the medication has passed. Extensive research has been done to determine medication withdrawal times to ensure residues do not appear in food products.
    Milk is also tested for residues prior to further processing.
    Consumers should not be concerned with antibiotic residues in their food, but articles like this put doubt in their mind without providing further details or facts.
    Facts: Milk from treated cows is not used for humans, all milk is tested for antibiotics prior to processing, and CFIA monitors our food for antibiotics and other residues.
    Your milk is safe to drink. If you choose an alternative, do it for a reason other than fear of antibiotics or food safety.

  11. I was rise in Guyana with good old cow milk. I feel like they are doing too much to destroy the good food that we were rise on. We did not need to used half of the things that we are using. We are spending more and making ourselves more sick. Organic is not really organic anymore.

  12. oat milk, hands down the best. Works so much better on cereal than all the other options (coconut isn’t bad though) My wife, who is vegan, has switched to oat milk in her coffee since it is quite creamy (I’m not there yet lol, still prefer 18% cream)

  13. After starting Keto a actually really enjoy almond milk to drink(I was a milk-o-holic) and I like cashew milk in my coffee.

  14. “Like all mammals, human babies drink their mother’s milk. But humans are the only mammals to continue drinking milk – from other animals – for the rest of their lives.”
    This is not true. Just go on a farm, you’ll see cats drinking cow milk.
    Almond juice and hemp juice shouldn’t be called milk, it’s not milk.

  15. I just love Silk Almond Milk – Dark Chocolate. It is delicious. You would never know the difference between it and regular chocolate milk made from cow’s milk. This is a blast from the past! It reminds me of my childhood.

  16. I use almond breeze. It tastes more like cows milk to me. It has the consistancy of cows milk . Some of the other types pour more like cream. I am a celiac and allergic to the protien in milk.

  17. I use almond breeze. It tastes more like cows milk to me. It has the consistancy of cows milk . Some of the other types pour more like cream. I am a celiac and allergic to the protien in milk.

  18. Those “fake” milks should not be called milk. Milk comes from animals including humans. Bones are more than calcium – phosphorous , magnesium, calcium and milk has it in the right proportions. Calcium added to other drinks doesn’t cut it! I’d never buy them.

  19. This was a very informative and excellent reading. I have learned so much.
    I certaiBnly will try all of the different kinds of milk stated above.

    Thank you for providing this valuable info.

    Leonie B

    1. Thank you very informative. I use almond milk and cashew milk at times for making smoothies. It gives a different flavour and texture along with different fruits.

  20. I like cashew the best for taste, and soy as a smoothie base. I haven’t tried hemp, coconut or oat yet, but based on the review that I just read, I will.

  21. It is tragic to recommend almond milk. Each almond requires 1 [US] gallon of water when growing. That means thousands of gallons per almond tree in the California, Arizona and Texas deserts where they are grown.

  22. I use coconut milk i find it less watery then soy and almond milk. Plus coconut milk tastes awsome in pancakes.

  23. I find that it doesn’t matter what kind of alternative you use instead of milk :have way too much addictive and gums

  24. We use Almond milk and Almond creamer in coffee. I would love Hemp milk but haven’t really come across any. Milk is for baby cows!

  25. I love my morning porridge but foumd if i made it with milk and water i would get terrible heartburn an hour later. Switched to almond milk and the enjoyment is back in my simple breakfast

  26. Informative. I will have to try Oat milk, I have tried the others. Do not like the Soy milk. So far prefer the Almond then the Cashew.

  27. I use coconut, almond, and cashew milk in every thing. It tastes just as good if not better that cows mild. I have been wanting to try other varieties like hemp, oat….

  28. I like and enjoy drinking soy & almond milk.
    Soy & Almond Milk (chocolate flavour) can taste just as good as regular chocolate milk if not even better.

    * You forgot to add 1 more type of milk (Rice Milk).

  29. I have tried almond milk, before,and will certainly try it again. I do not mind tasting each to see what I like as an alternative. As well as taste cost factors are important in my budget.

  30. I’ve recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and It’s been suggested I switch my diet to avoid flair ups. A big one is dairy. I was a little overwhelmed by all the choices for non dairy alternatives. This was great insight. Thank you!

  31. You don’t talk about rice milk. I drink it all the time, because I’m allergic to almonds and soy, as well as lactose. It’s not too thick, and is very refreshing. You can buy it in the refrigerated form (with calcium) and the on-the-shelf package.

  32. I have tried all of the above, with favourites being Cashew first and Soy second, in the lower calorie versions and unsweetened. If those aren’t available, I’ll go for the hemp, or lastly the oat. Great alternative to milk, which I just don’t care for.

  33. My daughter loves the almond milk,the soy milk affected her negative,I like my skim milk for my cereal,I’m gonna try oatmilk

  34. I am lactose intolerant and eating low carb but LOVE my lattes! Never liked soy or almond milk. I buy the Silk brand unsweetened coconut milk and cashew milk and mix them adding some heavy cream for mouth feel. Works for me!

  35. I will try again! I love Silk chocolate Soy beverage which I have a glass of every morning. On top of that we make smoothies that include Silk Coconut/almond and Cashew milk, they are tasty and have lots of vitamins and minerals.

  36. I use 1% milk for cereal, 5% cream for coffee, I drink Buttermilk (I grew up on it and love it, but I’m not happy with how all the dairy companies have WATERED DOWN the TEXTURE.

    I use ALMOND MILK, avocados, cocoa powder, agave nectar and vanilla to make VEGAN PUDDING. I’ll use the milk alternatives as an ingredient, but only drink Buttermilk.

  37. Milk is only from cows and goats and the real deal. There is no soy, almond etc. milk. Nuts do not produce milk, it only turns whitish when mixed with water. False leading people to believe they are a substitute. If they would learn the true process, the tests performed before milk is ever shipped in Canada is safe and wouldn’t recommend any substitutes as they are all made with additives.

  38. We have tried many nut milks and alternatives over the last 18 years to replace cow’s milk due to my son’s allergy to the milk proteins in cow’s milk. We use unsweetened nut milks for cooking and baking. We favour Earth’s Own vanilla almond milk for drinking, So Good vanilla soya milk is delightful in tea and coffee as it adds touch of flavour and sweetness ( we have found some of the soya and coconut coffee creamer products too sweet for our liking) and a delicious drink on it’s own. The kids love vanilla milks for smoothies but unsweetened is terrifically good as well. Silk Soya chocolate milk tastes like decadent treat but not too sweet (Mom’s fave) and Silk almond dark chocolate milk is yummy as well. We have tried quite a few store brands with success as well. There are many varying degrees of flavor and sweetness, you need to try a few brands to find the one(s) you like.
    I am really glad we have the choice of so many alternatives for cow’s milk so readily available now.

  39. I do like almond and hemp milk. Agree that soy milk makes a lot of gas and leaving me feeling nausha. Thank you for the information.

  40. Sounds like my solution of lactose-free milk is the richest in the nutrients we want from milk – calcium and protein.
    Why would anyone want to go to the listed alternatives since the availability of lactose-free milk?

    1. Not impressed with your comments about milk There are NO antibiotics in milk in Canada
      Maybe you should fact check before you put this on your website –

    2. I am lactose intolerant and used goats milk all my life, now available in any grocery store and specialty stores have all the dairy products made from goats milk. I find that using 1% fat milk also does not bother me as my allergy is to the fat in milk. Canadian farmers never give the cows antibiotics and if needed they are not allowed to ship any of that cows milk for 6 mths.

  41. I found that Almond Milk is perfect drinking and eating but I like something a little creamier for coffee and tea so I use Cashew milk. I have simmered down Almond milk to thicken it, you can use any thickener and heat the Almond milk.
    Always heat carefuly on Low-Medium heat.
    NEVER Bring to A boil.

  42. I love almond milk, as I’m lactose intolerant it’s perfect for me! The price is right, it’s low in calories, as well as it tastes great in everything. Try it in a smoothie or just straight by itself. I love it.

  43. I have tried Soy, Coconut , Rice milk however Almond is the one I use in place of milk as I have been lactose and dairy intolerant for many years now. I really like Soy, but due to the gas and estrogen concerns, I stopped using it. I tried Coconut milk, but found it too sweet. The rice milk was too watery for my liking , I would not try the Cashew MIlk as Cashews are a trigger for me( IBS), however I may try the Oat MIlk! But I really enjoy Almond milk. It is especially good for smoothies and to have with cereal or Oatmeal.

  44. I’ve been drinking soy milks since 1996. I tried almond milk, but it tasted like almonds (surprise, surprise!). Although I do like almonds, I don’t want to drink them. So I’ve stayed with soy. I prefer vanilla but will drink plain as well.

    I also enjoy soy ice cream.

    Currently, I am adding soy protein powder to my morning soy milk. I track my nutrients with an app, and as a vegetarian, I sometimes have trouble keeping my protein intake where it should be.

  45. Interesting… as a child growing up in South Africa in the 50’s we had milk everyday. Thank goodness because in my senior years I have fallen down stairs, slipped on ice, tripped over curbs while walking and have not broken any bones.
    I now drink fat free milk, the powered one mixed with water.

  46. I don’t drink milk it’s not made for people to drink or even use its made for baby cows to use when there still baby’s plus milk is not good for people

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