Updated: Mar 19, 2019
The idea of giving up dairy when going vegan may sound impossible for some. Fortunately, if you’re a dairy milk lover, there are plenty of plant-based milks out there that may turn your dairy love into plant love. Some of the most popular plant-based milks include almond, coconut and soy milk. An emerging plant-based milk that has also caught the attention of many is pea milk. There's also hemp, hazelnut and walnut milks. So which one is best for you? Let’s take a look at the nutritional values of each.
Almond milk is low in calorie and carbohydrates (if unsweetened), but low in protein for those of you looking to match the protein in dairy milk. It can be good source of Vitamin D, calcium, and potassium as many almond milks are fortified. Almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk, but may not be suitable for those with nut allergies.
Coconut milk is similar to almond milk, but contains saturated fat (as does dairy milk). Coconut milk is also often fortified, and would be a good option from someone with a nut or soy allergy.
Soy milk is naturally a great source of protein, and may also contain a high amount of vitamin D, calcium and potassium. The protein in soy milk is the comparable to cow’s milk (8 grams of protein per cup). It's also often fortified with Vitamin B12, which is important for anyone following a plant-based diet.
Pea milk is low in calories and carbohydrates, and high in protein and potassium. In fact, some pea milks contain the highest amount of potassium among non-dairy beverages. Pea milk is a great plant-based milk option with its protein content comparable to cow and soy milk.
Whichever plant-based milk you choose, look for brands that are fortified with nutrients like calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, D, E and B12. Also, choose unsweetened plant-based milk by checking the ingredients and nutrition label. Look for plant-based milks that do not contain cane sugar or other added sugars.
You can also make your own plant-based milk at home, which can be less expensive and contains the simplest ingredients (no thickeners like carrageenan and other gums). However, milks made at home won't be fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Overall, whichever plant-based milk you choose can be a great substitute for dairy milk. Try a few different brands and see which you like best.
Find a complete analysis of plant-based milks from different brands here.
What's your favorite plant-based milk?
My name is Margaret Peterson and I am in the nutrition coordinated program at Georgia State University. I am earning a Master’s degree in Health Science, and completing supervised practice hours to become a Registered Dietitian. In my free time, I enjoy working out, going to concerts, and trying new spots around Atlanta. My goal is to start private practice when I finish my program, but I also have an interest in working in a clinical setting. I chose to pursue a career in nutrition because I believe the foundation of a healthy life starts with the diet. My goal is to help people find the best diet for them individually in order to feel comfortable and confident with the nutrition aspect of overall wellness.