So you want to switch to vegan milk?
The question is, which one? There are many varieties of vegan milk and they’re all slightly different.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled this handy guide that will answer some frequently asked questions and help you decide on a vegan milk that’s right for you.
What is vegan milk?
Vegan milk is a plant-based alternative to dairy milk.
Plant-based milks are made by finely grinding oats, nuts or beans, then adding water and other ingredients, such as flavourings, thickeners and nutrients.
Because these milks don’t use any animal products or derivatives, they’re perfect for vegans and those following a more plant-based diet. They’re also ideal if you’re allergic or intolerant to dairy milk.
Vegan milk has dietary benefits too. Most varieties are:
- Low in fat and cholesterol-free
- Lower in calories than dairy milk
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- Free from colours and preservatives
The different varieties of vegan milk
Are you an oat or a hazelnut? There are lots of different vegan milks, so there’s sure to be one that’s just right for you.
In this section we’ll go through six of the most popular varieties, looking at the pros and cons, tastes and textures.
Almond milk is made from water, ground almonds and is available in sweetened and unsweetened varieties.
What are the pros and cons of almond milk?
- It’s naturally high in antioxidant vitamin E
- Unsweetened varieties are low in sugar.
- It’s not suitable for anyone with a nut allergy
- It’s not recommended as a main milk drink for children under 3 years.
What does almond milk taste like?
Almond milk typically has a light, smooth texture and a delicate nutty flavour with a little natural sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter milk, there are sweetened options too.
Coconut milk is made using mature coconuts — also known as the brown hairy ones. The finely grated white flesh is boiled or simmered in water then strained to make the milk.
This is a thick, creamy milk and is not the same as coconut water, which is found inside the younger green coconuts.
What are the pros and cons of coconut milk?
- It’s a more natural product than some of the other vegan milks and can be made with fewer ingredients
- It’s a good natural source of vitamins and minerals with high levels of manganese, copper, magnesium, selenium and potassium
- It contains natural protein and fibre
- It’s free from lactose, soya, gluten and nuts
- Allergies to coconut are rare compared to other types of nuts.
- It’s high in calories, fat and saturated fat
- It may not be suitable as a main milk source for children under 2 years.
What does coconut milk taste like?
Coconut milk is naturally sweet with a subtle coconut flavour. It’s a thick milk with a rich creamy texture.
Hazelnut milk is made by roasting, soaking, blending and straining the hazelnuts, then mixing them with water. Rice and a little oil may be added to create a silky texture that brings out the natural creaminess of the hazelnuts.
What are the pros and cons of hazelnut milk?
- It’s a good source of B vitamins, vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids
- It’s low in calories and has no cholesterol.
- It’s low in protein
- It’s not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
What does hazelnut milk taste like?
Hazelnut milk is naturally sweet and nutty with a smooth, silky texture.
Oat milk is made from a mixture of ground oats and water, with added flavourings. Oil is usually added to give the milk a creamier texture.
What are the pros and cons of oat milk?
- As it doesn’t contain soya or nuts, it’s suitable for some special diets
- It’s high in fibre and protein, which help keep your bowels, muscles and cholesterol levels healthy
- There’s a barista version that’s made for coffee — it froths perfectly and it won’t curdle!
- It has more calories and carbohydrates than other vegan milks
- It’s not recommended as a milk replacement for children under 5 years because it doesn’t contain the right nutrients for healthy growth.
What does oat milk taste like?
Oat milk has a mild oaty flavour with a natural sweetness and a smooth creamy texture that’s similar to dairy milk.
Rice milk is typically made using brown rice mixed with water and salt. A little oil is sometimes added for a better consistency and texture.
What are the pros and cons of rice milk?
- It’s the most hypoallergenic vegan milk
- It’s a natural source of B vitamins
- It’s high in antioxidants, like manganese and selenium
- It’s free from saturated fats and cholesterol.
- It’s not recommended for diabetics due to its high starch content
- It’s low in calcium and protein.
What does rice milk taste like?
Rice milk has a naturally sweet and nutty flavour, with a smooth and silky consistency.
Soya milk is made from hulled soya beans mixed with water and flavourings.
What are the pros and cons of soya milk?
- It’s described as the closest alternative to dairy milk
- It’s a natural source of protein
- It contains all eight amino acids, which your body can process to boost your immune system.
- Depending on the brand, some people find it has an odd flavour and a slightly chalky texture
- Allergies to soya are common.
What does soya milk taste like?
The taste of soya milk depends largely on the brand and the flavourings used. Typically, it has a mild soya flavour that’s sweeter than almond milk and a creamy texture that’s similar to dairy milk.
However, some brands are described as having a ‘beany’ taste and chalky texture that some people find unpleasant.
Vegan milk FAQs
In this section, we’ll answer some of the questions people commonly have about vegan milk, including how to use and store it.
Is vegan milk healthy?
Vegan milk has some natural nutrition and is often fortified with added vitamins and minerals. Different varieties and brands have different health benefits — and there are some aspects that aren’t so great for your health too. We’ve summarised these in the previous section.
Switching to vegan milk from dairy means you won’t be getting the same nutrition. You’ll need to find ways to compensate for this in other areas of your diet.
And some varieties of vegan milk are not a suitable dairy substitute for growing children, so always check the label.
Which vegan milk tastes most like dairy milk?
If you’re switching from dairy milk to a plant-based alternative, it makes sense to start with the variety that’s closest to what you’ve been used to.
Most sources say that soya milk is the closest to dairy. It has a mild flavour, a creamy texture and is typically sweeter than other plant-based milks.
How can you use vegan milk?
You can mostly use vegan milk in exactly the same way as you’d use dairy milk and in the same quantities.
Have it hot or cold, cook with it, pour it on your breakfast cereal and drink it straight from the carton. It’s also great for making smoothies.
With their natural flavours and consistencies, some vegan milks are particularly good for certain uses. For example:
- Oat milk for pouring on cereals
- Hazelnut milk for baking and desserts
- Soya milk for making ice cream and milkshakes
- Coconut milk for making curries and exotic cocktails.
Can vegan milk curdle in tea and coffee?
Cold vegan milks have a tendency to curdle when they’re added to hot and/or acidic drinks.
Curdling is most likely to happen in coffee, which is both hot and acidic.
It may help to try warming the milk before pouring it in.
Or you can use a specialist milk like Oatly Barista Edition or Minor Figures Oat M*lk. These oat milks are made for coffee — they’re formulated to foam like dairy milk and have stabilisers added to stop them curdling.
Can you freeze vegan milk?
Vegan milk is not suitable for freezing, but it’s a long-life milk and can be stored in a cool dry place for months before you open the carton.
How long does vegan milk last?
Vegan milk typically has a long shelf-life, but after you open the carton, it needs to be refrigerated and used within 5 days.
How do you know if vegan milk has gone off?
The best way to check the freshness of your vegan milk is to smell it. If it smells strange or sour, that usually means it’s gone off.
If you’re unsure after smelling it, pour a little into the sink to check the texture. Vegan milk that’s gone bad will thicken slightly. If you’re still unsure, taste it. Most plant-based milks develop a sour taste as they go off.
If the milk has been in the fridge for longer than 5 days and is showing any of these signs, you should throw it away.
Where can you buy vegan milk?
We’re glad you asked!
Bother sells a range of vegan milks, including all the varieties discussed in this article, which you’ll find listed below.
Buy almond milk
Alpro Roasted Almond (sugar-free)
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze (unsweetened)