Choosing the right vegan milk

Vegan milk is made from plants such as soybeans, almonds, oats, walnuts, cashews, rice, hemp seeds, peanuts, and coconuts. Each plant milk serves a specific purpose. Some are great for making coffee and tea, while others are more suitable to be turned into probiotics, like curd and buttermilk. Some are suitable for making chocolate bars, while others are more suited to cakes, bakes, and pastries. Some are good for making vegan butter, while others are good for making coffee creamer, and so on and so forth.

We, at Vegan Dukan, strive to bring you a wide assortment of plant-based, and nut milk from each category, so that you have an arsenal of plant-based milk to choose from. If you are diabetic, have a nut allergy, or gluten intolerance, then not to worry. We’ve got you folks covered as well!

In this blog we’ll be talking about 7 different types of plant milks; their usability, their nutrition, their healthfulness, and applicability as well.

We also understand that there is no such thing as “best vegan milk”, and so have provided information on choosing the right vegan milk for the appropriate use. 

  1. Almond milk: Almond milk can be used to make ice creams, smoothies, no-bake brownies, traditional sweets, cakes, and even frosting. It works great, for making hot and cold coffee, chocolate milk, and smoothies. However, certain adjustments need to be made while baking, so as to arrive at the desired consistency. It is a good choice for the calorie-conscious, as it is one of the low-calorie, plant-based milks (depending on the brand). It is one of the best vegan milk options available out there.

     Almond milk turns out great when combined with sweeteners like stevia and dates. You might notice that many recipes for almond milk involve combining them with some kind of sweetener.

    Homemade Almond milk can be heated prior to grinding in order to increase its shelf life. In this way, you get the dual benefits of consuming homemade almond milk, along with a little bit of the extra shelf life as well. Whether to use a blender, or a food processor for making nut milks is an individual choice, but  it is preferable to use a food processor, especially if you don’t want to end up damaging the motor of your blender.

    Nevertheless, there are some powerful blenders on that market that work for nut milk. Some of them are so powerful that you can directly put in your nuts without soaking to make instant milk. With a little bit of planning and preparation, it is quite simple to make almond milk at home.

    Nutrition wise, it is not a good source of calcium, and this is the reason why most store-bought almond milks are fortified with calcium (with some containing upto 50% of your RDA). Coming to protein, please be aware that strained almond milk has less protein than whole almond milk. This is because some of the nutrition gets lost while straining. Almo almond milk is high in protein since it is not strained and hence, its nutrients aren’t washed away.

    Almond milk is optimal for: Baking and cooking, Hot and cold coffees
    Almond milk is best for: Smoothies

  2. Soy Milk: Soy milk is one of the most widely available and consumed non-dairy milks out there. It can be consumed as a beverage all on its own, or enjoyed in multiple flavors. Soy milk works best in making curds and buttermilk. However, it is not ideal for pies, puddings, creamy soups or to make hot drinks, as it instantly curdles. It works fine for cooking, though.

    Do note that full-fat soy milk must be preferred while making chocolate bars and ice cream, if you’d like to achieve a superior consistency in the end. 

    Nutrition wise, it is a low-carb, high protein vegan milk containing 7 grams of protein, and 48mg of calcium in a single serving (100ml). Fortified soy milk also contains additional protein, calcium and vitamin D. Making soy milk at home is a lengthy, labour-intensive process, so for those who are short on time (or effort), it would make sense to go for processed soy milk. Plain soy milk has a very beany taste, so manufacturers add in additional ingredients, or process it differently, to eliminate the beany taste. Soy milk is a good option for those with nut allergies, although some people with nut allergies are allergic to soy as well. Hence, please do your due diligence.

    Optimal for: making chocolate bars, Ice cream, coffee and tea
    Best for: curds and buttermilk, smoothies, cereal

  3. Coconut milk: Coconut milk is the most versatile of plant milks due to its thick, creamy texture and a consistency that is close to dairy milk. Due to this, it is the preferred replacement in a lot of recipes requiring dairy.

    It also makes for a great drink to consume all on its own, and would be a fantastic addition to the diet of those living in hot humid climes, since it is an excellent body coolant.

    Making coconut milk at home is quite a cumbersome process, and so in this case, you are better off with store-bought coconut milk. Please note that coconut milk is available in  different formats. While cooking, it would be ideal to use canned coconut milk. For other purposes, Tetra Pak milk would be preferred. Coconut milk works pretty well for coffee, but remember to use canned coconut milk instead of Tetra Pak, as tetra pak coconut milk curdles. This is one of the best non-dairy milk for coffee.

    Nutrition wise, canned coconut milk is rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium. It is a great option for diabetics, as it is low on the glycemic index.

    Optimal for: cooking and curries
    Best for: smoothies, baking, ice cream, and  coffee

  4. Oat milk: Oat milk, while not as popular as almond or soy, is steadily growing and finding its way into our lifestyles.

    It is initially thought to be gluten free. However there is a high chance that store-bought oat milk contains gluten. This is most likely due to cross contamination with other ingredients during production. Therefore, people with celiac disease must stay away from processed oat milk.

    Since oat milk is devoid of fats, most brands add it in the form of emulsifiers. It is an ideal replacement for dairy in hot drinks since it does not curdle. It is also an ideal plant milk for those having nut allergies.

    Nutrition wise, it is rich in Vitamin B2, and fortified oat milk contains Vitamin B12, and Calcium as well. It is also high in sugar and carbs since it is starchy, so those who are on low-carb diets might want to avoid it. Oat milk can also be used to make vegan yoghurt.

    Optimal for: putting into cereal, making yoghurt
    Best for: hot drinks, drinking just on its own

  5. Rice-almond milk: Almond milk is thick and highly nutritious, whereas rice milk is not as nutritious, but light and high in carbohydrates. This makes a perfect combination of nutrition and taste. The almonds not only add calcium to the milk but vastly improve the flavour. This milk is generally made with brown rice, but white rice can be used as well. A sweetener like maple syrup can also be added to improve its taste. Rice milk isn’t a good source of protein, and so is fortified to include the same. Some manufacturers include brown rice syrup to sweeten it as well.  

  6. Cashew-oat milk: Combining cashew and oats to make vegan milk is a great idea if you are looking for a milk with a creamy, rich consistency for your cooking needs.
    Goodmylks cashew-oat milk is a good choice for those trying out plant milks for the first time, as its consistency is closest to that of dairy. The best part about it, is that unlike many plant milks, it does not curdle when added to tea or coffee. That is something that could be a huge turn-off to many people who would potentially be candidates for veganism, or just plant-based milk for that matter. Nutrition wise, cashew oat milk is rich in nutrients like Magnesium and Iron.

  7. Cashew sesame milk: You might be guessing, “why this particular combination?”. Cashews are a powerhouse of nutrition. It is one of the healthiest plant-based milks, because it significantly lowers the risk of heart disease and greatly improves cardiovascular health.

Activate your cashews with the vitality and power of sesame seeds. The addition of sesame to cashew milk not only brings out the flavour of the cashew nut, but also turns this drink into a superfood concoction. Throw in some dates and bananas, and you have a superfood smoothie, all ready to energize and enliven your day. Cashew nut milk is one that can, quite conveniently, be made at home. It comes out in a rich creamy texture, and unlike almond milk, does not require straining.

Cashew nut milk is high in iron and magnesium, while protein and calcium content is negligible. However, the calcium content of store bought fortified cashew milks is pretty high. Sesame seeds contain 26 grams of protein in a single cup, along with 9% RDA of calcium. It also contains potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese. It is a very rich superfood, which is mostly used to make Tahini.

Notes:

  • Do remember to get yourself a nut milk bag, as it is the best way to achieve  good consistency. You can also use a regular strainer, but you might not get the desired consistency in the end. You may also use a cheesecloth.
  •  Buy organic whenever possible.
  •  Carageenan is added as an emulsifier to some plant milks. It is a natural emulsifier made from seaweed. However,  it does not go down well for people with stomach and intestinal issues.
  • Watch out for GMO ingredients.
  • Flavoured milks are great if you are trying to get kids to try vegan milk.