Vegan Milk Guide
Looking back at how badly vegan milk used to sell back then, it is surprising to see its explosion at the expense of cow milk. Almond milk sales, for instance, have increased to over 50 percent a year with dairy milk sale significantly declining.
Due to the high competition and cow milk not able to meet the nutrition value of vegan milk, dairy companies are now tirelessly campaigning to have vegan products banned from using the word ‘milk’ on their packages. Vegan varieties have very impressive flavor especially in flavors like chocolate, plain, vanilla and others.
Why you should pick vegan over cow milk:
- Most of the cow milk comes from factory farms where cows are kept in miserable conditions.
- Even in farms where animal welfare is maintained, these cows are still sent to slaughter.
- Milk contains lactose, a sugar that is poorly digested by people ofAsian and African descent.
- Milk has been associated with congestion, acne, and digestive complications
- Dairy industries are major sources of methane, a gas that is seven times stronger than carbon dioxide.
In the 90s, vegan milk was only a small portion of what was sold in stores but gradually after better packaging and placing it alongside cow milk, sales rose to the high numbers they are today. Vegan milk is now at supermarkets and natural food stores and is available in different varieties.
Beans, seeds, nuts and grains are some of the ingredients that make vegan milk. Most popular brands use rice, soy, almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, hazelnuts, pea protein, or oats.
Due to the different types of ingredients, the nutrition value of vegan milk varies from brand to brand. Important nutrients to look out for are sugar, protein, calcium and also vitamin D and iodine.
Soy milk is the richest in protein than other types of vegan kinds of milks like almond whose protein content is very low. Coconut milk, on the other hand, has less protein than almond and is almost completely free of it.
Although soy milk is that impressive, Ripple which is made from cheese beats it by a mile. Ripple’s unsweetened variety is widely sought for being the most nutritious vegan milk. It contains vitamin D, twice the calcium in cow milk, omega 3s and DHA.
When buying vegan milk go for the brand that delivers at least five grams of protein per serving. This information can be found on the label.
Processed foods are known to have a lot of sugar and surprisingly this goes for vegan milk as well. A half gallon of Silk vanilla soy milk contains as much sugar as there is in three full-sized Snickers bars while Silk’s unsweetened variety only has eight grams per half a gallon.
Unsweetened vegan milk also has fewer calories than their counterpart, therefore, choose wisely. Added sugars really do not increase the flavor of vegan milk as it is made from natural ingredients that already have pleasant flavors.
Calcium, Vitamin D, and Iodine
When it comes to calcium choose at least one that contains 300 milligrams per serving. This on the label reads as 30 percent of calcium RDA.
If you consume cow milk frequently, most of your iodine and vitamin D mostly comes from there, however, none of these nutrients is found in unprocessed cow milk. When you switch to vegan, therefore, getting supplements like vitamin D which is very low in vegan milk is no problem. If you are not a huge fan of iodized salt then take a daily multivitamin to cover your iodine. Consider eating seaweed frequently too since it is also a good source of iodine.
Homemade Vegan Milks
You can make your own vegan milk using nuts, coconut milk, soy, rice milk and other ingredients. It is cheaper and more delicious than commercial brands. Start off by using two parts of water and one of cashew, hempseeds or almonds. Add vanilla in a few drops and a sweetener if you like. You can add cocoa to make a chocolate flavor.
A Blendtec or a Vitamix blender will blend your ingredients perfectly. Add a nut milk bag to help you squeeze the pulp out. The pulp can be a great version of vegan cheese so do not throw it away. Check out these books if you would love to make cheese at home, This Cheese is Nuts or Artisan Vegan Cheese.
Homemade soy milk is very easy to make although the results aren’t as impressive because no home machine can extract denatured proteins like what soy milk companies do. During the making of homemade soy milk, the beans are usually boiled until soft causing some protein to denature which makes a funny taste in the milk.
Some communities in Asia have consumed homemade soy milk for decades and think that the taste is just fine without the denatured protein removed something the Western can’t get a hang of.
This article is not to discourage you from making your own soy milk but rather to inform you that the taste won’t be similar to the manufactured top brands. Try sampling the traditional soy milk at Asian groceries, if you dislike the taste then just stick to buying the processed one. Save your money from rushing to buy an electric soy milk maker if you hate the taste.