Vegan milk has never been more in demand. Although non-dairy, plant-based milk alternatives have been around for centuries, it is undeniable that their popularity has skyrocketed in the last 10 years.
There is plenty of evidence that this surge in popularity is not merely a temporary fad. In fact, there is a global decline in the consumption of animal-sourced dairy milk.
In the United States alone, the consumption of cow’s milk has dropped over 40 percent since the 1970s while total sales of dairy-free milk alternatives have soared by 30 percent since 2010. Again, this is not just an American trend; reports from around the world show the market for plant-based milk is growing rapidly.
Why Are Plant-Based Milk Alternatives Growing in Popularity?
There are a variety of reasons why people are choosing plant-based milk over those sourced from animals. Whether it is for animal welfare reasons, their lower environmental impact and nutritional value, to avoid lactose or other dairy-related health complications, or simply out of taste preference, there are so many reasons why people are choosing plant-based milk.
So, Why Should You Choose Vegan Milk?
There is a good chance that if you are reading this post, you are at least interested in adhering to a vegan lifestyle if not already dedicated to one. Just in case you needed more motivation to consider introducing vegan milk into your diet, here are just some of the reasons why it is worth trying.
- Animal-derived dairy milk is often sourced from factory farms. Helpless cows and other animals are kept against their will in confined spaces. Purchasing dairy milk supports this brutal industry.
- Even when dairy milk is sourced from free-range cows, those animals are eventually slaughtered when they are no longer deemed useful for dairy purposes. There is no such thing as cruelty-free dairy milk.
- Dairy milk contains high amounts of lactose which is a sugar that is difficult for some people to digest. Lactose intolerance is not only common, but it can also be hugely disruptive to a person’s health. It can cause stomach pain, bloating, vomiting, and other discomforts.
- People that switch from dairy milk to plant-based often report numerous improvements to their health. This ranges from reduced digestive problems to decreased skin conditions like acne.
- The dairy industry is a massive strain on the environment. Dairy cows produce significant amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that has over 100 times the global warming effects of carbon dioxide. This is not a concern with the manufacture of plant-based vegan milk.
While all of the above are great reasons why you should consider making the switch to vegan milk, there is one more thing to consider – they just taste great!
What Types of Vegan Milks Are Available?
Another reason for the increased popularity of non-dairy, plant-based milk is the ever-growing number of options available to consumers. The number of healthy, plant-based milk alternatives for drinking, cooking, and baking is enormous. Long gone are the days where soy milk was the only alternative to dairy milk. Vegan milk can be made from almonds, cashews, oats, hemp, rice, chickpeas, coconuts, and even peas.
Whether you are a vegan wanting a cruelty free milk alternative or someone who suffers from lactose intolerance and wants to avoid the discomfort dairy can cause, you can find vegan milk to satisfy your needs.
Each kind of vegan milk has unique nutritional composition and benefits. To make things easier for you, we will go over some of the major types of vegan milk and explain how their nutritional profile can have health benefits for you.
Almond Milk – Low in Calories, High in Nutrients
Almond milk is one of the most popular non-dairy milk alternatives. It can be found in almost any grocery store which is great for vegans. Almond milk is lower in calories than many of the other types of vegan milk on the market, though this depends on the sugar content of the almond milk you’re choosing. Go for unsweetened varieties if you want a healthier option.
Almond milk can be a rich source of calcium and contains powerful antioxidants that help protect your body.
In terms of taste, almond milk has a mild and slightly nutty flavor that makes it great to pour over cereal. It’s also popular in vegan baking and works well as a direct substitute for dairy milk in most recipes. Due to its mild flavor, it will not overpower other ingredients in your recipe.
Cashew Milk – The Creamiest Vegan Milk
Similar to almond milk, cashew milk has a subtle nutty flavor; however, cashew milk naturally has a creamier texture. This makes cashew milk an excellent choice for a variety of dishes with creamy sauces such as vegan pasta and curries. It also tastes great in smoothies and with cereal and can be used as a vegan-friendly cream replacement in coffee and lattes.
In terms of nutrition, cashew milk is very similar to almond milk. The fats contained in cashews are mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Again, it is a good source of calcium and antioxidants.
Coconut Milk – A Great Choice for Vegan Cooking
Coconut milk is naturally higher in fats than other vegan milk. It keeps much of its coconut flavor which can be a delicious addition to many vegan soups, desserts, and curries. Treat coconut milk much the same way you would treat a full-fat dairy cream. It is naturally quite thick and creamy so it is used less for drinking and more for cooking.
Coconut milk contains plenty of antioxidants and is full of healthy fats. It’s also said to be good for both your hair and your skin.
Hemp Milk – A Great Source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Hemp milk has a higher protein content than other vegan milk. This makes it an excellent choice for increasing the amount of protein in their diet. If you are an athlete, hemp milk is a simple way to add some vegan-friendly protein to your smoothies and post-workout shakes.
Hemp milk is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant. It is extremely low in carbohydrates and high in healthy unsaturated fats. You get plenty of alpha-linolenic acids, a type of omega 3 fatty acid found in plants. It plays a significant role in supporting brain and heart health while helping with cholesterol reduction.
It is suitable for vegan baking and cooking and has a mild nutty flavor that can be quite tasty.
Oat Milk – The Best Friend of Vegan Coffee Drinkers
Oat milk is slightly sweet with a thin consistency similar to low-fat milk. It also has a smooth taste.
Where there are quite a few kinds of vegan milk that are so thin they will separate when they are poured into a hot beverage, this is not the case with oat milk. Oat milk stays together and gives your coffee or tea that nice beige color that you’re looking for with a hot cup. The natural sweetness also gives a unique and pleasant taste.
Oat milk contains a moderate amount of calories and has more protein than most plant-based milk.
Rice Milk – An Excellent Choice For Vegans With Food Allergies
Because rice milk contains no traces of nuts and is completely gluten-free, it is far less likely to trigger food allergies than other vegan milk.
It has a naturally sweet taste and works well in cooking and baking. Rice milk is also thinner than most vegan milk.
While this makes it less suitable for hot beverages, it does work well in oatmeal. Use rice milk to add plenty of creaminess and flavor to a bowl of vegan-friendly oatmeal on a cold morning.
In terms of nutrition, rice milk is relatively high in carbohydrates. While it is low in protein, it does pack some bone-strengthening calcium. This makes it a good source of calcium for vegans who cannot drink soy or nut-based milk.
Pea Milk – The Nutritional Powerhouse
Although it might sound a little strange, pea milk is an excellent non-dairy milk alternative. It is relatively new to the vegan milk scene but it is quickly growing in popularity.
Not only does pea milk taste good, but it also might be the most nutritious of all varieties of vegan milk. It is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids. In fact, depending on the brand, one cup of pea milk can contain as much as 45 percent of your daily value of calcium! That is 50 percent more calcium than you would get in a cup of non-vegan, skimmed dairy milk.
Pea milk also contains a whopping eight grams of protein per cup which is impressive for a vegan-friendly milk alternative. As if all of this was not enough, pea milk even has fewer calories than animal-derived dairy milk!
It is worth giving this vegan-friendly milk a try just for the nutritional benefits alone.
Soy Milk – The Original Vegan Milk
Soy milk is the non-dairy milk that started it all. For a long time, soy milk was the only option when it came to vegan-friendly milk alternatives. While there are now plenty of great options available, soy milk should not be forgotten.
Soy milk is probably the most enjoyable vegan milk to drink on its own. It has a smooth consistency and well-rounded taste that is not overwhelming and tastes the same when it is served cold or warmed up. This means you can enjoy soy milk as a refreshing beverage or use it to add creaminess and color to your hot beverages.
Soy milk also packs a solid nutritional punch. Most soy milk varieties contain as much as seven grams of protein per cup! This makes it useful for vegans trying to increase their protein consumption. If you choose unsweetened varieties, soy milk is also quite low in calories.
Flax Milk – A Great Addition to Smoothies
Flax milk is another relatively new vegan milk alternative. Its rising popularity is due to the immense amount of nutrition packed into the small flaxseeds the milk is derived from.
Like all of the above vegan milk, flax milk contains no cholesterol or lactose; however, where flax milk stands out is in its abundance of omega 3 fatty acids. Considering omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, it is an important addition to any healthy diet. This is especially true for vegans as most people obtain their omega 3 fatty acids from non-vegan fish oils.
Flax milk also contains plenty of vitamins A, B12, and D and is packed with natural soluble and insoluble fiber which increases the overall amount of fiber you are getting in your diet.
Flax milk does not have much of a taste which allows you to add plenty of nutrition to your smoothies without overwhelming the other ingredients.
So, Which Vegan Milk Variety is the Best?
As you can see, there is plenty of variety when it comes to vegan milk options. Each offers a unique flavor and nutritional profile. While some make an excellent vegan-friendly milk substitute for cooking and baking, others are best enjoyed on their own.
So, which type should you use? There is no correct answer. When it comes to vegan milk, diversification and personal taste are key. Pick the vegan milk option that you enjoy the most but do not be afraid to mix and match or try new things. You cannot go wrong with any type of vegan milk. They are all delicious and can be used as a healthy addition to any vegan diet.
Celebrate the fact that you now have options. Vegans started out only having shelf-stable soy milk as their non-dairy milk alternative but have a lot of options today.
What About Vegan Milk Brands?
As if there was not enough choice between different types of vegan milk, you also have to choose the best brand. Navigating them can be a bit overwhelming at first but do not worry. To make things easier, we’re going over the top eight vegan milks available in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Our favorite options range from major vegan milk brands to smaller companies and newcomers. So, without further ado, here are eight delicious vegan milk brands that are available in the US and UK. Be sure to give them a try and find your favorite!
The Top 8 Vegan Milks in the USA and UK
1. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk (United States)
Almond Breeze has been one of the most reliable vegan milk alternatives for some time now. Blue Diamond has been on the market for a while and its products are found everywhere.
What originally set Almond Breeze apart was the option to purchase vegan almond milk in an unsweetened variety. Prior to Blue Diamond launching its unsweetened almond milk, most were filled with sugars and artificial sweeteners to cover their unpalatable taste.
As discussed above, almond milk is a low calorie, highly nutritious vegan milk alternative. The Almond Breeze line is no exception.
Almond Breeze is perfect for cereal and is quite enjoyable on its own. If you are looking for a vegan-friendly milk option, you cannot go wrong with Almond Breeze.
The Almond Breeze product line consists of a few almond milk flavors. Except for their Hint of Honey and Honey Vanilla flavors, the entire Almond Breeze product line is completely vegan-friendly.
Availability: Almond Breeze Almond Milk can be found in natural food stores and major grocery chains all over the United States. In fact, Almond Breeze has proven so popular, that it has spread to grocery stores in Canada, Australia, Asia, and, yes, even the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.
Dietary Notes: Almond Breeze Almond milk is completely dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, peanut-free, and most importantly, is vegan-friendly.
Price: One of the main selling points of Almond Breeze is how affordable it is. Shelf-stable varieties are cheaper due to the reduced cost associated with their transportation and storage; however, even the refrigerated varieties are reasonably priced.
Available Flavors: The Almond Breeze product line consists of a wide variety of flavors. Original is available in both sweet and unsweetened varieties and they are undoubtedly the most popular.
If you want to add some flavor to your vegan milk, you also have the option of vanilla, chocolate, real banana, cinnamon horchata, and even a seasonal vegan-friendly holiday nog.
2. Happy Planet Oat Milk (United States)
Happy Planet is a brand that plenty of vegans are familiar with. They offer a variety of healthy vegan products that are delicious. While they might be most famous for their packaged soups, their oat milk is fantastic. It is naturally sweetened with oats and claims to offer one-third of a cup of oats in every serving.
As discussed above, oat milk has a great balance of protein and carbs. Oats also contain an extremely healthy plant fiber called beta-glucan. It is believed that beta-glucan has plenty of health benefits, most notably its ability to lower cholesterol and give our immune systems a boost.
As the name suggests, Happy Planet is committed to environmental sustainability. Oats require less water to grow than almonds and other ingredients used to source vegan milk which is great for crop sustainability. Happy Planet even insists that the environmentally-friendly cartons used for their oat milk are made of 75 percent renewable materials.
As for the oat milk itself, there is no doubt that it is delicious. It goes well with cereals and even better with hot beverages like coffee. You can definitely use it as a vegan-friendly coffee creamer.
Availability: Happy Planet Oat Milk is sold in natural food specialty stores across the United States. You can even order it directly to your door through online retailers like Amazon.
Dietary Notes: Happy Planet Oat Milk is dairy, egg, nut, soy, and gluten-free. It is also 100 percent vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
Price: Happy Planet products tend to be a little on the pricey side; however, this should not put you off. You are paying for quality ingredients that are ethically farmed and sourced. Plus, you can buy the oat milk in a more economical 64-ounce carton or eight-ounce 3-packs of single-serve cartons.
Available Flavors: Happy Planet started by offering its original flavor which is meant to replicate the taste and consistency of traditional dairy milk. They then began expanding their product line and now offer vanilla and Camino chocolate flavors. All three are delicious and pair well with coffee and other hot beverages.
3. So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage (United States)
So Delicious offers a coconut-based vegan milk beverage that differs from pure coconut milk. Where pure coconut milk is the high-fat liquid taken directly from the inside of coconuts, this coconut milk beverage has been added to and emulsified to make it more drinkable.
The result is a delicious milk substitute that can be drunk on its own or used to replace dairy milk in recipes. This organic vegan milk has been on the market for some time and has a strong following.
Despite the name, this coconut-based milk does not have an overwhelming coconut flavor. Instead, it’s pleasant and subtle, a great choice for both fans of coconut and those who are not so crazy about the flavor.
Availability: So Delicious Coconut Milk varieties are sold both in refrigerated and shelf-stable beverage sections of grocery stores across the United States. While you can find it in most chain stores, you are certain to find it in any natural health food store, too.
Dietary Notes: So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverages are dairy, egg, gluten, grain, nut, and soy-free. They are also completely safe for vegans and vegetarians.
Price: As with most vegan milk, the unrefrigerated version is slightly cheaper than the refrigerated; however, both are quite affordable, especially when compared to other types of vegan milk.
Available Flavors: The original is the most popular flavor and it is available in sweetened and unsweetened options. You can also choose between vanilla, chocolate, sugar-free, and a seasonally available holiday nog.
4. Living Harvest Hemp Milk (United States)
Living Harvest offers a delicious hemp milk that is great for vegans who might have food allergies. It contains absolutely no traces of gluten, peanuts, or soy.
As mentioned, hemp milk is a real nutrition powerhouse. Each serving is filled with essential vitamins and minerals, calcium and Vitamin D in particular. It also contains plenty of protein, 10 essential amino acids, and is packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, which can be hard for vegans to get enough of in their diets.
Basically, this great-tasting vegan milk is a good choice for those wanting to add a healthy beverage to supplement their diet.
Availability: Living Harvest Hemp Milk is available in most health food stores and can be found in the odd grocery store. Although it is harder to find than other vegan milk, it is worth looking for.
Dietary Notes: It is completely safe for vegans to consume and contains no traces of gluten, soy, nuts, or other allergens.
Price: The hemp milk is a little more expensive than other vegan milk options but you get plenty of nutritional benefits for the extra cost.
Available Flavors: Living Harvest Hemp Milk is available in original, vanilla, and chocolate flavors. All taste delicious!
5. Trader Joe’s Almond Cashew Beverage (United States)
If you are a vegan, you are probably familiar with Trader Joe’s. They offer a wide variety of vegan-friendly products that are healthy and delicious. Their vegan milk offering is no exception.
If you are a vegan that misses chocolate dairy milk, look no further. Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Cashew Beverage is an ideal substitute. It tastes great and is lower in sugar than average dairy-free chocolate milk.
You also get all of the nutritional benefits of an almond and cashew derived beverage, particularly its impressive calcium content.
Availability: All of Trader Joe’s non-dairy milk beverages are sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores in the United States. Fortunately, more Trader Joe’s stores are popping up everywhere.
Dietary Notes: It is dairy, egg, peanut, and soy-free and a completely vegan-safe milk alternative.
Price: Trader Joe’s can be an expensive store but their Almond Cashew Beverage is quite reasonable given the overall quality.
Available Flavors: While the cocoa flavor is by far the most popular, Trader Joe’s also offers seasonal nog, chocolate peppermint, and pumpkin spice flavors.
6. Alpro Roasted Almond Unsweetened Milk (United Kingdom)
One of the main selling points of Alpro’s Roasted Almond Milk is its versatility. It has a subtle taste so it pairs well with almost everything. Whether you want vegan milk for your cereal or something to add to your smoothies, Alpro’s almond milk is a perfect solution.
The product is 100-percent plant-based, low in fat, and contains absolutely no sugars or artificial sweeteners. With this being a UK based company, the almonds are sourced from the Mediterranean rather than California. This gives it a slightly different taste than American almond milk.
As with any good almond milk, you get plenty of calcium and essential vitamins.
Availability: Alpro Roasted Almond Unsweetened Milk is available in almost every major UK grocery chain. The best price seems to be available at Sainsbury’s.
Dietary Notes: It is completely plant-based which means it is free from dairy products and safe for vegan consumption.
Price: This milk is available at a reasonable price, especially for almond milk. Prices vary between stores but this is definitely vegan milk that will not break the bank.
Available Flavors: At the moment, Alpro only offers their vegan milk in a simple roasted almond flavor but do not worry, it is delicious!
7. Rude Health Almond Drink (United Kingdom)
London-based brand Rude Health offers a delicious almond-based vegan milk that uses a unique mixture of rice, spring water, sunflower oil, and, of course, almonds.
The added rice gives the almond milk a silky sweetness without the added sugars and calories you get with other brands. Again, you get plenty of calcium and other important minerals and vitamins with almond-based milk. It goes great in a smoothie or as the base for a protein shake.
Availability: As Rude Health grows as a brand, its products are becoming more widely available. Currently, its almond drink can be found in Sainsbury’s locations across the United Kingdom and even some other European countries.
Dietary Notes: Rude Health’s Almond Drink is completely dairy and gluten-free. It is also proudly organic and safe for vegan consumption.
Price: While it is more expensive than some of the almond milk offered by larger companies, Rude Health prides itself on its award-winning quality.
Available Flavors: Currently Rude Health offers two flavors – Original Almond and Chocolate Hazelnut.
8. Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Milk (United Kingdom)
Lucy Bee is a London-based company that focuses on making organic, cruelty-free products for gluten-free and vegan customers. Their organic coconut milk is delicious and completely safe for vegans.
Like most quality coconut milk beverages, it has a velvety smooth taste and consistency. It is proudly advertised as being 99.9 percent pure coconut. Because it doesn’t use a lot of water and other fillers, this is about as close as you can get to pure coconut.
Availability: Currently, Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Milk can be found in health food stores and ASDA.
Dietary Notes: It is dairy-free and completely vegan. Plus, it’s also a certified cruelty-free product.
Price: Given that it is an organic product, the price is quite reasonable. Especially when purchased at ASDA.
Available Flavors: The only flavor of Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Milk available is coconut and it is delicious.