Remember when all you had to worry about stirring into your Milo or covering your Weet-bix with was good old fashioned full-fat cow’s milk? Yeah, those days are well and truly over. In 2020, there’s a milk for every Tom, Dick and Harry. Whether you’re a fan of fat-free, organic, plant-based, 2%, hemp, kefir, rice or coconut – the options are truly endless. Focusing on some of the most popular, what is the real difference between almond, soy and oat milk, and what benefit does each kind of milk serve?
What Is Almond Milk?
While it feels like almond milk spiked in popularity in the past couple of years – and even made sales of US$5.8 billion in 2018 – it appeared in cookbooks of the Islamic Middle East from the 13th century onward.
Almond milk is made by soaking and grinding almonds in water before filtering the liquid to obtain the ‘milk’. Because it doesn’t contain cholesterol, saturated fat or lactose, it’s a go-to for vegans or those who are lactose-intolerant.
Almonds are a buzzy health food, but unfortunately the commercial production of almond milk removes much of the fiber and antioxidants of the nut, according to Medical News Today. It might not be as nutritious as cow’s milk, but almond milk is naturally rich in vitamin E and often contains added vitamin D, calcium and protein.
What Is Soy Milk?
Like almond milk, soy milk is made by soaking and grinding soybeans. This mixture is then boiled and filtered to produce a ‘milk’ which is an emulsion of oil, water, and protein.
Soy milk originated in East Asia and skyrocketed to popularity in the later half of the 20th century as it’s taste and consistency became more similar to that of dairy milk. Again, soy milk is lactose-free making it a common choice for vegans and folks who are lactose-intolerant.
So, what about the health benefits of soy milk? According to Healthline, soy milk is a good source of protein, calcium (when fortified) and potassium. It’s also low in saturated fat, however it is an allergen for many.
What Is Oat Milk?
View this post on Instagram
OAT MILK REVIEW ???? The long awaited review of some other oat mills after the Oatly story broke (check my story highlight if you don’t know this news). I tried a few, looked into the companies and production, and ethos and previous news stories to hopefully bring you my view. I’m also not 100% nailing this to a cross – so I might change as time goes on. 1. @minorfigures LOVELY! Developed by a wonderful independent UK brand who are barista focused so have created a milk that goes lovely with coffee. They are based in London and have been truly transparent about their investments after the Oatly story broke – they have a social media post about this so check it out. The only negative is their coffee did a collaboration with H&M (bad fast fashion brand) which I don’t support – but that’s all I could fault them on really. They also have a 10% off on their website for first time orders. £2.15 per carton (as per their website). 2. @momafoods GREAT creamy and delicious, and have supporters screaming their love for this brand. They also have a barista edition which I will be trying very soon. They have doubled down on the good stuff, adding calcium and vitamins D, B2 & B12. They also do home delivery! £1.50 per carton (as per their website). 3. @rudehealth also fabulous and have a normal and barista edition. The only feedback I’ve been getting about this is that Rude Health as a brand have not been the most complimentary to people living a vegan lifestyle – which seems to bash part of their main customer base? I will always be a bit wary of companies who seem to hurt loyal customers (cough Oatly) so I think I’m wanting to see more from Rude Health before committing my loyalty to them! The most expensive by far at £2.50 per carton (as per their website). I have also in the past had @alpro oat milk. Alpro is owned by @danone.yogurt which is a large dairy producer – they don’t claim to be sustainable (like Oatly did) so having these ties does not necessarily bother me – but good to know so people have the full information???? You can also always make your own oat milk, check it out in my Oatly story highlight!???? #OatMilk #Sustainable #Ethical #Vegan #PlantBased
Unlike almond and soy milk, oat milk is a relatively recent invention. It was developed in the 1990s by Swedish scientist Richard Oste. It’s derived from whole oat grains by extracting the plant material with water.
Oat milk is often used as a replacement for dairy milk for those who are lactose-intolerant, and is a popular choice as its production also has a relatively low environmental impact.
In a piece for Good Housekeeping, nutritionist Jaclyn London explains that oats are a 100% whole grain – meaning they’re filled with “fibre, plant-based protein, B vitamins, and minerals, including iron, calcium and magnesium.” They’ve been linked to reduced risk of heart disease and can also provide prebiotics to help fuel your body’s friendly bacteria.
London isn’t the only one convinced of oat milk’s benefits, either. Today, Bloomberg reported that multiple dairy giants around the world have begun investing billions into oat milk due to consumer demand for a milk alternative that has a smaller carbon footprint.
Sweden’s Oatly AB has even attracted a handful of high profile investors including Oprah Winfrey, Jay-Z and Natalie Portman.
Oat milk is going public. Sweden’s Oatly is reportedly considering an IPO at a valuation of as much as $5 billion. Investors include:
Is this the end of semi-skimmed milk? https://t.co/UtCyfckNYb
— Bloomberg Opinion (@bopinion) September 20, 2020
Is oat milk the future? We’ll just have to wait and see. At least the power is in your hands and you can decide what your go-to milk should be in the meantime.