My mom was a devout soy milk drinker and my dad was a classic total-fatty cow’south milk guy when I was growing up. Now, cow’s milk is practically a matter of the past. Well, not quite. But cow’south milk consumption has decreased by well-nigh 21% since 2010 every bit Large Dairy has taken some major heat, with reports of poor brute weather condition, wellness-related consequences and environmental touch on condign public noesis.
The slow decline of moo-cow’s milk has revealed a wealth of lucrative opportunities: creating milk substitutes from nigh anything. In that location are milk options for people who are dairy-gratis, gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free. Culling milks are the most pop establish-based product in the United states, outpacing industry-leading meat alternatives Beyond and Impossible Foods. And it seems like establish milk growth will continue. Retail sales of milk alternatives are expected to increase by almost $1 billion dollars by 2025.
Plant milks aren’t just for vegans or folks with dietary restrictions. With the help of colleagues in CNET’south San Francisco and Charlotte, Northward Carolina, offices, I pitted viii constitute-based beverages confronting each other to run across which one would reign supreme. Please note that this examination was non scientifically airtight, and I am not a milk expert by any means. These results are based solely on my opinions and those of my colleagues.
Hither’s how my CNET colleagues voted
To effigy out which alternative milk was the all-time, nosotros performed two office taste tests of eight different milks in our San Francisco and Charlotte locations. Again, these tests were not highly scientific — in San Francisco, we measured oat, almond, soy, kokosnoot and pea drinks, while in Charlotte, we tested hemp instead of pea. Everyone tasted the milks one at a time and offered their thoughts about the texture, taste, consistency and aftertaste.
Here are the estimated survey results from 33 colleagues across both offices from the alt-milk gustation exam.
- Oat (53%)
- Almond (21%)
- Soy (18%)
- Hemp (half-dozen%)
- Coconut (2%)
How I ranked the top 5 alternative milks
For my own taste test, I tasted each milk individually, and besides tried them mixed in coffee. Hither are my picks for the top five alt-milks I tried.
5. Coconut: And then Delicious Unsweetened
Coming in dead terminal in my taste exam was Then Succulent’ Coconut Milk, which should be renamed for imitation marketing. The milk, while most similar to dairy’southward texture, was uncomfortably thick and flavorless. This is essentially just milky water. Or watery milk. Regardless, I will never drink this again.
The coconut milk watered downward the coffee while calculation no flavor.
4. Almond: Califia Unsweetened
Though almond milk is usually my favorite, this one was pretty tasteless. In that location was an initial burst of almond flavor that dulled into a light blanket and lingering aftertaste. The consistency was thin, though smooth. This milk is good if y’all’re just adding it for smoothies, but on its own, this one was only OK.
The almond milk left a slightly bitter aftertaste while as well watering the coffee down. Thumbs downwards.
3. Hemp: Pacific Foods Unsweetened
While my colleagues reacted poorly to this milk’s grainy, gritty consistency and slimy texture, I enjoyed it. This was my first time tasting hemp milk, and information technology was a pleasant surprise. The texture was thicker than both the kokosnoot and almond milks, and I personally thought the earthy flavor was nice.
This is where the grainy texture became a trouble. The hemp milk was not nifty in coffee and did not add together any sweetness. The consistency wasn’t thick enough to blend well with the coffee, leaving it watered down.
two. Soy: Silk Unsweetened
Although the soy milk didn’t have much flavor on its ain, its astounding functioning when information technology came to java was what made the difference. The consistency was the most like to that of cow’s milk, and it has a similar nutritional profile. If yous’re looking for the closest replacement for cow’s milk, this is it.
The flossy, thicker consistency of the soy milk composite perfectly into the coffee. It added natural sweetness and a mild vanilla palatableness. This is definitely my favorite pick to add to coffee.
1. Oat: Planet Oat Unsweetened
Oat milk has surged to fame in contempo years and at present maintains a cult following, and I can see why. It’due south naturally sweetness but not overly so. It has a smoothen texture, and information technology’due south not banal. While this plant milk is sparse in consistency compared to cow’s milk, information technology doesn’t go out whatever weird aftertastes and doesn’t coat the mouth.
1 note here: Nosotros tested Planet Oat for this story, only many of my colleagues insisted Oatly was fifty-fifty better. I definitely underestimated how seriously people take their oat milk brand loyalty.
The oat milk was less sweet than the soy milk, but however, the consistency was thick and smooth enough to complement the coffee’s texture without watering it down.
Nosotros tested a few additional plant milks. Hither are some notes about them:
- Ripple Pea: This milk can but be described as weird and too sweetness on its ain, but it was succulent in java. I know, it surprised me besides.
- Proficient Karma Flax: This tasted like watered downwards powdered milk.
- Elmhurst Cashew: I have never tried an alt-milk that tasted then much like what it’s made from. This milk is but pleasant if you love cashews in liquid grade.
Thousands of years of plant-based milk
Despite their recent explosion into the mainstream, plant-based milks have been around for thousands of years. It’due south like shooting fish in a barrel to forget, but at least lxx% of the world is lactose intolerant to some degree, said Christopher Gardner, professor and director of diet studies at the Stanford Prevention Inquiry Eye.
For example, soy milk has been prepared in Red china since 1365 and almond milk was around in the Middle East since the 13th century. Kokosnoot milk has also been popular for centuries in Southeast Asian countries, said registered dietitian and nutritionist Vandana Sheth, writer of My Indian Tabular array: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes.
Environmental impact: Are alt-milks better than dairy?
Even though almond milk has had a bad rap for the amount of water required to produce it, cow’due south milk still has significantly higher impacts on the environment across all metrics than any plant-based alternatives, according to Stanford’s Gardner. Cow’southward milk produces around three times as much greenhouse gas emissions; uses around x times as much state and 2 to 20 times as much freshwater; and generates much college levels of eutrophication — backlog constitute growth due to fertilizer runoff — according to research washed by Hannah Ritchie, who holds a doctorate in Geosciences from the University of Edinburgh, for Our World in Data.
“Plant-based milks are an like shooting fish in a barrel switch to make; they’re cheaper than dairy and don’t taste that different,” Gardner said. If you lot’re looking for an easy way to reduce your ecology footprint, all establish milks are generally improve for the environment than moo-cow’s milk, he added.
The bottom line
When it comes to deciding which milk alternative to choose, you’re the person who best knows your own nutritional needs. If you’re looking for a milk that provides a good source of poly peptide, for example, choose soy, pea or flaxseed milk, said Sheth. If you’re concerned almost loftier blood sugar and want a milk lower in carbs, consider almond milk or macadamia nut milk — another ascension institute milk star.
Soy, almond, cashew, coconut and rice milk might exist a better option if you lot take chronic kidney illness since they have a lower potassium and phosphorus content compared to dairy milk. Co-ordinate the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people with chronic kidney disease may want to avoid foods high in potassium and phosphorus. If yous take wellness concerns, exist sure to check with your doctor or a nutritionist before switching to any institute milk.
The good news is almost plant milks, no affair what they started out as, are fortified with many of the vitamins and minerals people are looking for, such every bit calcium or vitamin A, said Gardner.
At the end of the mean solar day, everyone has their own preferences. You don’t have to hold with my rankings, but I hope this inspired you to enjoy a drinking glass of your favorite establish milk with a warm chocolate fleck cookie and some friends.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical communication. Always consult a dr. or other qualified wellness provider regarding whatsoever questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.