It is World Plant Milk Day on 22 August, which serves as a day to celebrate the many benefits of plant milk.
Plant milk refers to any milks made from plant-based ingredients (as opposed to milk from animals).
Plant milks have been consumed for centuries in various cultures, but their popularity has skyrocketed over the past decade.
People choose plant milks over cow’s milk for various reasons, whether it is for nutritional value, animal welfare, lower environmental impact, lactose intolerance, to avoid dairy allergens, or simply out of personal preference.
Globally, over 75% of the adult population are lactose intolerant. According to data from the ProVeg Plant Milk Report, a staggering 80% of black South Africans are intolerant to lactose, the sugar found in cow’s milk.
All plant milk options are more environmentally friendly than conventional cow’s milk. By choosing any plant milk options, you are saving up to 300L of water.
Ahead of World Plant Milk Day 2020, local food awareness organisation, ProVeg South Africa shares 9 non-dairy milk alternatives. There are over 80 commercial plant milk options available in South Africa, 18 are specifically formulated to be paired with coffee.
READ MORE | 79 Ways To Commemorate World Plant Milk Day
#1. Almond Milk
Nutritionally, almond milk is quite different from soy or dairy milk. It has fewer calories and much less protein. The small amount of fat in almond milk is healthy unsaturated fat.
Home-made almond milk can be a rich source of calcium, depending on the quantity of almonds used – it contains powerful antioxidants that can have a protective effect against cancer and heart disease. It has a mild and slightly nutty taste and is ideal for eating with cereals.
#2. Soya Milk
Soya milk has been around for a very long time and is the most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk. In South Africa, soya milk is also the most affordable and widely available plant milk option.
READ MORE | The Soy Saga: Getting To The Meat Of The Debate
Soya is high in protein but is still characterised as controversial at times, with uncertainty surrounding it’s nutritional profile and impact on hormone levels.
It is moderate in calories and is a great source of protein and calcium. Soy milk also contains compounds called isoflavones and phytosterols that can have a protective effect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, and can lower cholesterol.
READ MORE | Soy: It’s Just A Bean, Not A Bomb
#3. Oat Milk
Oat milk is now one of the most popular plant milk options and is becoming more widely available in coffee shops and restaurants nationwide.
Oat milk is sweet with 4% sugar more than other plant milks, a natural component of oats. It has a thin consistency similar to low-fat milk. It contains a moderate amount of calories and has more protein than most plant-based milks.
#4. Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is similar to skim milk in terms of calories and is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. It also contains lauric acid, which boosts the immune system and maintains the elasticity of blood vessels.
Coconut milk is high in saturated fats and should be consumed in moderation. It is ideal for cooking and preparing curries.
#5. Rice Milk
Rice milk is less likely to cause food allergies compared to any other milk because it is nut and gluten-free. It has a naturally sweet and rich taste and can be used for cooking and baking.
Rice milk is extremely low in calories, which are mostly from carbohydrates, and it has very little protein or fat. Since rice milk is a rather thin milk, it is less suitable for coffee.
#6. Macadamia Nut Milk
Macadamia milk is still a niche market within our country, of which the one is locally produced and the other is a barista blend in high demand.
South Africa is the largest producer of macadamia nuts in the world, predominantly exporting to China.With the popularity of nut milk on the rise and only one local brand using the abundance of macadamia nuts grown on South African soil, we believe there is a lot of room to grow within this category.
#7. Cashew Milk
Cashew nut milk is really delicious and easy to make at home! Unfortunately, cashew milk is not widely available in stores. If you’re lucky, you might come across a coffee shop or restaurants that offers home made cashew milk.
Cashew milk has a slightly nutty taste and is suitable for cooking and baking. The fat contained is mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat and can be a great choice for people with diabetes who need to watch their carbohydrate intake.
Cashew milk has only about 2 grams of carbohydrates per cup. It is suitable for coffee and adds a thickness that works wonderfully in lattes.
#8. Barista Blends
Plant milk options used to get a bad reputation for splitting in coffee. That’s why most of the barista blends you come across will have added oil to make sure that they can give you the froth that you want!
#9. Flavoured Options
Who doesn’t love chocolate milk? There are so many tasty flavoured plant milk options available in out country.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.