Dairy and Best Plant-Based Milk

plants made into dairy alternatives
There are lots of plant milk options available!

Are you looking for the best plant-based milk to use instead of dairy? People who eat a vegan diet do not eat animal products, so finding a suitable plant-based milk is essential. Many vegetarians, pescatarians, and flexitarians also drink plant milk.

Replacing dairy with a plant-based milk/ milk product option means planning what nutrients you will be missing from dairy products and making sure you get them.

Nutrients Found in Dairy Products

  • Protein
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Vitamins A, D, and B (including riboflavin)
  • Saturated fat (which is the fat we don’t need much and is already plentiful)

Dairy | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Types of Dairy

We are familiar with the most common dairy products available at the grocery store. But I wanted to list them to give a visual.

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Ice Cream
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir
variety of plant milks
Various plant milks are available based on your nutrition needs and preferences.

Plant-Based Milk and Milk Products

Which plant milk is the best?

The one that matches your needs the best and tastes good to you!

I am sharing some plant-based milk brands. Your choice depends on the nutrition profiles of plant milk, how well they match your needs, and your recommendations on which products taste best.

How is plant-based milk made?

Here is a little information on how plant milk is made. Once the milk is made, this is the basis for many other plant-based milk products.

Plant-Based Milk: Types and Health Information (webmd.com)

Can you make your plant-based milk?

Yes, here is a little information on how this can be done. You may want to try a few of the already-made ones to see which type of milk you would like to try making. That way, you have a little idea of which ones you like.

BEST Non-Dairy Milk Recipes – Simple Vegan Blog

Types of plants used in “plant milk & milk products”

There are a variety of nuts, seeds, beans, and grains that can be made into plant milk. Each one may have a different nutrition profile, flavor, and texture.

One thing that I highly recommend is to find several types of plant milk and plant milk products and switch them up. That way, you will have more variety and not overrely on one in particular. For example, coconut might provide too much saturated fats; cashews may cause some people to bloat, etc.

Having a variety of plant milk you like also comes in handy if your brand is not on the shelf that week.

Plants Often Made into Plant Milk:

There are so many kinds of plant milk, and there may be even more coming out in the future:

  • Coconut
  • Almond
  • Hemp
  • Plant Oat Milk
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Cashew
  • Pistachio (this makes a pretty green milk)
  • Hazelnut
  • Quinoa
  • Pea
  • And Others……

Nutrients Found in Plant-Based Dairy

You can find plant-based milk with protein and calcium levels similar to dairy. Many of these milks are fortified to provide additional nutrients.

However, if you make it at home, some of the nutrients may vary, so additional food or supplements may be added. Let’s discuss what nutrients are added to plant milk.

Fortified Plant Milk with Calcium

Calcium is the one nutrient that is added to most plant milk.

Calcium Fortification: Comparison of Over 100 Dairy-Free Plant Milks (godairyfree.org)

This article discusses calcium and other micronutrient amounts in plant milk.

Which milk is best? Almond, hemp, oat, soy, or cow’s milk (medicalnewstoday.com)

And some other interesting food for thought on plant-based milks:

2 Types of Plant-Based Milk for Boosting Longevity | Well+Good (wellandgood.com)

Sources of Riboflavin

Riboflavin is a B vitamin in cow’s milk, but luckily, you can get it from plant-based foods like tofu, spinach, mushrooms, almonds, and avocado. And the animal food eggs.

We had mentioned in the lesson on nutrients low in a plant-based diet that protein is not often a food low. But because it is often a focus for many people, it is an important topic to share.

Plant-based Protein Milk

Resources for Finding the Highest Protein Plant Milk

The protein content in various plant-based milks differs, necessitating a review of the product labels. Dairy milk typically contains about 8 grams of protein, while plant milk with the highest protein content, such as soy or pea, may have slightly less.

Here is an article on some of the higher protein milks that you might find helpful.

The Vegan Guide to High-Protein Milk | VegNews

Other interesting information about plant milk:

2 Types of Plant-Based Milk for Boosting Longevity | Well+Good (wellandgood.com)

Eco-Friendly Plant Milk: Best Types and More (healthline.com)

pictures of plant based milk products
Try making your own or find your favorite brand of vegan cheese, plant-based ice cream & fermented food.

Best Tasting Plant Milk and Products

Plant-Based Milk Taste Test

Even if it provides what we need, most of us won’t drink or eat it if it is not appealing to us. So here are some reviewers who rated brands of plant milk to find the tastiest and creamiest plant-based milk and plant milk products.

Plant Milks Ranked From Best to Worst: See How Your Favorite Fared – CNET

Plant-Based Milks | Culinary Guide for 2023 | Cozymeal

14 Best Plant-Based Milks Of 2023 (thedailymeal.com)

Plant-based Yogurt

Yogurt is one of nature’s probiotics, providing a wealth of additional nutrients. Thankfully, there are also some delicious plant-based options available. Explore these two reviews and a yogurt recipe.

5 Best Plant-Based Yogurts (eatingwell.com)

The Best Dairy-Free Yogurt Brands + Honorable Mentions (2022 Update!) (godairyfree.org)

Vegan Yogurt Recipe – So thick & creamy! – A Virtual Vegan

Plant Based Kefir

Kefir is comparable to a liquid form of yogurt. Several brands are available for purchase, and it is relatively simple to prepare at home. Typically, kefir contains a greater variety of beneficial bacteria compared to yogurt. Nevertheless, yogurt remains an excellent source of probiotics.

Make Homemade Kefir from Plant-Based Milk (teaspoonofspice.com)

The 8 Best Probiotic Foods, According to a Dietitian (verywellfit.com)

Vegan Cheese

Cheese can be one of the most challenging plant-based milk products to replace. It has a particular mouth feel, consistency, and flavor.

Here is a list of vegan cheeses that have been taste-tested:

The 9 Best Vegan Cheeses of 2023 (thespruceeats.com)

The Best Vegan Cheeses | Food Network Healthy Eats: Recipes, Ideas, and Food News | Food Network

Vegan Cheese Taste Test: Here’s What We Think Of Them | HuffPost Latest News

Here is a book, “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook,” by Joanne Stepaniak, that teaches you how to make some plant-based cheeses.

Plant-Based Ice Cream

Many of us hold ice cream near and dear to our hearts. And if we are going to have it, we want something that tastes delicious. Here are some reviews of the best vegan ice cream, plus some tasty recipes.

The 8 Best Vegan Ice Creams of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter (nytimes.com)

12 Best Vegan Ice Cream Brands of 2023 – Clean Green Simple

34 Vegan Ice Cream Recipes + Tips – Minimalist Baker

Plant-based calcium foods

Plant-based milk is only one of the ways to make sure that you get your calcium. Here are some additional plant foods that are rich in calcium.

plants with calcium (vineripenutrition.com)

Discover Your Best Plant-based Milk

I hope that I answered your question, “What plant-based milk is best for you?” It is the one that gives you what you need, which is consistency and flavor that you can live with.

For vegetarians, pescatarians, and flexitarians, it is not all-or-nothing. If you decide you want a combination of dairy and plant dairy, that is up to you. It’s your plant-based diet.

It might take a little bit of time and exploration to find the right one for you. Think of it as an adventure like traveling across the country to the national parks. You never know what you might find, and you might enjoy it.

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