Why can’t some people drink milk?
Cow’s milk contains lactose, a form of sugar that’s difficult for a large part of the population to digest. Some people can’t drink milk because of intolerance, allergies or dietary restrictions and need nondairy alternatives. Switching from cow’s milk to lactose-free milk or plant-based drinks might relieve allergy or intolerance symptoms, such as stomach issues, skin reactions or even respiratory conditions.
But be careful when reading labels. “Nondairy” and “dairy-free” don’t necessarily mean the same thing. While dairy-free usually means what it says, nondairy products may contain milk proteins such as casein or whey, or other milk derivatives. Always review the label’s ingredient list closely.
Is there a nondairy milk alternative that’s right for me?
After traditional cow’s milk, soy milk has the most protein. Rice and hemp milk are good picks for allergy sufferers, as they’re free of dairy, soy, nuts and gluten. Check plant-based drinks’ nutrition labels, as some varieties, especially flavored, sweetened versions, have quite a bit of added sugar. Opt for those with fewer calories, which usually means less sugar. Here’s an in-depth look at the different types of plant-based drinks. Do you have children with dairy-related dietary restrictions? See if nondairy milks will work for them.
Is almond milk a good substitute for cow’s milk?
Almond milk is the most common plant-based drink. To enjoy the health benefits that almond milk offers, look for brands with 7 to 15 percent almonds. If the carton is unmarked, look for the brands with the highest protein. Almond milk has a pleasing, slightly nutty taste. Try it in this delicious recipe for Hot Cocoa with Almond Milk.
Can I cook and bake with plant-based drinks?
Milk alternatives can be subbed in for conventional milk at a 1-1 ratio in most baking recipes, including cakes, cookies, muffins and pancakes. Choose milk alternatives that don’t contain flavoring or a lot of added sugar. In other cooking, however, the type of milk matters. You’ll get very different results in a cream sauce made with almond milk than in one made with actual cream. If you must cook with a milk alternative, choose soy milk. It’s thicker than many milk alternatives and will result in a texture and consistency that most closely resembles traditional cow’s milk.
How much should I expect to pay for plant-based milk alternatives?
At more than $5 per half-gallon, premium organic milk from grass-fed cows tends to be the most expensive. Plant-based drinks typically fall in the $3 to $4 range per half-gallon as compared to a half-gallon of traditional cow’s milk at $1 to $2.50.
Wondering how all these plant-based drinks taste? Check out how eight varieties fared in our nondairy alternatives taste test.