Skip the Dairy: Milk Alternatives


More and more people are choosing to give up cow’s milk in favour of plant-based alternatives.

If you really think about it, drinking milk is a bit weird. We are the only mammals that drink the milk of another animal and choosing cows as our main source is somewhat arbitrary.

I’m not alone in thinking this – I heard the same argument presented by a leading paediatric gastroenterologist at this year’s Allergy Study Day at the Royal Society of Medicine in London.

Whether this is due to a dairy allergy, lactose intolerance, lifestyle choice like veganism or just trying to eat healthier, I personally think giving up cow’s (or goat/sheep/elephant…) milk is a good thing. Having said that, I am hooked on Hong Kong-style milk tea so being completely dairy-free isn’t quite easy for me.

If you’re thinking of switching to a dairy-free alternative, here are some options:

Soy milk

If you are not allergic to soy, this is my preference as it has a good consistency, taste, protein content and is usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D. It’s also readily available nowadays in most supermarkets.

My two favourite brands in North America are Natur-A (UHT long-life) and Silk (available in UHT and from the fresh milk refrigerators).  Both have organic and unsweetened versions too.

When I’m in the UK, I use Alpro. In the last few years, the company came out with ‘Growing Up Milk’ for toddlers which has more vitamins, minerals and protein than regular soya milk, making it a bit thicker and more filling.

Rice milk

This is very watery, like a (very) skimmed milk. It has nearly no protein and a very high carbohydrate content – diabetics steer clear! I personally don’t like the taste but Hubby loves it. Nonetheless, it’s one of the least allergenic types of milk.


Coconut milk

Yum, and double yum. I love the taste of coconut milk especially the unsweetened variety which is creamy yet light and refreshing. It’s low in calories and fat, but also very low in protein. So even if you find coconut milk that is fortified with vitamins and minerals, it’s not a recommended dairy alternative for little kids. But that’s fine – more for mama.

Oat milk

I actually love oat milk. It is near impossible to find in Canada but quite readily available in UK big cities. It has a great taste and consistency, a decent amount protein and some fibre too!

BUT – a big but – most oats are cross-contaminated with wheat since farmers usually alternate growing the two grains on the same piece of land. So if you have a wheat allergy or Celiac disease, avoid oat milk unless the packaging specifically says it is ‘wheat/gluten free’.

Almond milk

This obviously is not an option if you are allergic to almonds or hazelnuts, or tree nuts in general like my family. Almond milk is also watery but slightly thicker than rice milk which is appealing to some people. As you might expect, it has a marzipan-like taste.

There are other nut milks out there, like cashew, but I haven’t actually tried them so I have no opinion on them. If you have, let me and the rest of the community know in a comment below. Sharing is caring.

Tigernut milk

This is a relative newbie on the market. Tigernuts are tubers, not nuts, so this milk is safe for nut-allergic individuals. It has a rich texture and a nutty flavour which are quite pleasant. I’ve heard people sing its praises as ‘the best, most nutritional, thing since sliced bread’ but in Canada it’s expensive and hard to find so I’m good with the four different types of ‘milk’ I already have in my fridge.

This is obviously not a comprehensive list. If you have a favourite milk alternative that I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments below.

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