What is the healthiest non-dairy milk - VeggieBoards - A Vegetarian Community
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#1 Old 11-03-2012, 07:36 AM
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I've been vegetarian for just over 4 years and am contemplating giving up dairy milk.  I've checked out the ingredients of soy, rice, almond and even quinoa milk, and they all have a lot of ingredients, including sodium and oil, plus others I couldn't identify.  This did not give me a sense of them being a "healthy" food choice.  So I'm interested in any comments or suggestions.

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#2 Old 11-03-2012, 07:42 AM
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I would say soymilk is the best nutritional replacement for dairy milk. If you're just having a little bit on cereal, it probably doesn't matter which one you choose. But if you drink large quantities of dairy milk, you probably want to replace it with soy, which is comparable in terms of protein and calories.

Others would pretty much just be for flavor and vitamins/calcium, if they are fortified. Almond milk has a nice flavor, but does not have much protein. I drink a fair amount of unsweetened almond milk, which is very low in calories (30-40 calories per 8 oz). Rice milk is mostly sugar, but does taste pretty good. Coconut milk is mostly fat and sugar.
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#3 Old 11-03-2012, 08:10 AM
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I've been vegetarian for just over 4 years and am contemplating giving up dairy milk.  I've checked out the ingredients of soy, rice, almond and even quinoa milk, and they all have a lot of ingredients, including sodium and oil, plus others I couldn't identify.  This did not give me a sense of them being a "healthy" food choice.  So I'm interested in any comments or suggestions.


Keep in mind that the containers that hold cows milk do not have to disclose all the actual ingredients because those ingredients were filtered through a cow. For example, when they feed cows candy they don't put that on the milk cartons or beef packages. And they certainly don't list the pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones that are fed to cows.

Link about candy: http://money.cnn.com/2012/10/10/news/economy/farmers-cows-candy-feed/index.html

If you're still put off by unfamiliar ingredients listed on soymilk packages, consider buying a soymilk making and making your own!
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#4 Old 11-03-2012, 08:18 AM
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Most plant milks are healthier than dairy milk, no cholesterol is one reason.
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#5 Old 11-03-2012, 09:03 AM
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That depends on what you are looking for.


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#6 Old 11-03-2012, 01:04 PM
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I think the most popular one is Almond. 

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#7 Old 11-03-2012, 01:26 PM
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I have never heard of quinoa milk! I've seen flax milk

I'd say soymilk. Of course read labels for B12 , and amounts of calcium. Mine are 6gr, protein, 30% calcium, 25% B12.

Hemp is comparable, but I've never tried it.

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#8 Old 11-03-2012, 06:03 PM
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The most unprocessed of the plant milks are soy, coconut, and almond. You could even make them at home if you wanted. In a box at the store, though, soy milk is hands down the most unprocessed. The West Soy brand has just soy beans and water. I like EdenSoy, they put kombu, calcium carbonate, and wheat and barley extract in their milk and it greatly improves the texture (and adds some nutrition, too). EdenSoy Extra is also fortified with calcium and B12.

 

Soy is definitely the best for protein, and nutritionally it is the most similar to cow milk of all the plant milks.


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#9 Old 11-03-2012, 06:10 PM
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It's super easy to make your own almond milk at home without any added preservatives, check it out!


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#10 Old 11-03-2012, 09:20 PM
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It's super easy to make your own almond milk at home without any added preservatives, check it out!

 

How would this compare in price?


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#11 Old 11-03-2012, 10:54 PM
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I agree that to see soy or another alternative milk in a real beneficial way you have to consider what's in cow's milk. 

 

People can give some really icky stuff to livestock, which of course is passed into their milk to consumers. For example, you'd think the FDA limits antibiotics and such in livestock but they don't. Last year, and ONLY after being sued, the FDA issued a “Framework for the voluntary adoption of practices to ensure the appropriate or judicious use of medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals.” This basically means the FDA nicely suggests (pdf) that the food industry not give antibiotics to livestock, but only if they don't feel like it. The FDA does not regulate antibiotic use in livestock on their own - it's self-regulated. Plus as I think someone else stated above, cow's milk is packed with harmful hormones too. 

 

This is bad news because the CDC says that overuse of antibiotics is one of the worst problems facing the country today and they also note that children are particularly at risk as they have the highest rates of antibiotic use.

 

Also this summer, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), filed a petition asking the USDA to remove milk as a required food from the national school lunch program and that petition came with a slew of research showing that cow's milk is not healthy. The PCRM petition argues the following:

  • There’s very little proof that milk improves bone health.
  • Dairy foods can create other health risks.
  • Milk does not prevent bone fractures and injury in children and adults.
  • Cows milk is the number one source of saturated fat in children’s diets.
  • One in eight Americans is lactose intolerant.
  • More than 1 million U.S. children struggle with milk allergies.

 

Plant-based milks start to look great by comparison. Even though some do have some odd additives, they are no where near as bad for you as hormone, antibiotics and other junk found in cow's milk.

 

I do stick to organic soy milk because I think it's healthier than conventional. Soy is a top pesticide crop in the U.S., so you can avoid some bad stuff and get healthier soy milk if you buy organic. If you want to avoid the add-ins you can make your own plant based milks, but I like the fact that if I buy it, I get some added essential vitamins by buying fortified. 

 

PS Organic soy milk is less expensive than conventional cow's milk even, so it's a smart buy too. At least at my grocery store. 


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#12 Old 11-04-2012, 04:04 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. 

 

I should have mentioned that I don't use a lot of milk - about 1/2 cup morning with cereal, and occasionally in baking.

 

That is very disturbing to see that farmers feed their cows candy.  Of course the whole mad cow disease issue was way worse and one of the last straws for me finally giving up beef.

 

Has anyone made their own almond milk.   That looks interesting.   Wonder how long it would stay fresh.

 

The quinoa milk was in the non-refrigerated section.  I think it had other grains in it as well, but quinoa was the main word I saw when I looked at the carton.

 

I did try rice milk a while back and didn't care for the taste, plus it was too watery.

 

Soymilk is probably the best option for me to try because I do include my morning milk as part of my day's protein.  How long does an open carton of soy milk stay fresh?  What is the difference between the refrigerated and non-refrigerated cartons?

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#13 Old 11-04-2012, 06:26 AM
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Once opened, a box of soy milk will stay fresh in the fridge for 7-10 days.

 

The only brand of soy milk I've seen in the refrigerated section is Silk, who was sold to Dean Foods a while back. That's a company I am boycotting so I never looked at the ingredients.


I do know that West Soy has no additives, and EdenSoy's additives are just more food. These are both brands you'll find in the boxes.

 

One small difference between the boxes and the refrigerated cartons is that since the boxes need no refrigeration there is less energy consumption in their transport.


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#14 Old 11-04-2012, 06:36 AM
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For your situation, it probably makes the most sense to use aseptic quart size containers. Soymilk would be the most comparable to dairy milk for baking properties, and I would recommend unsweetened if you want to use it for savory recipes. For on cereal, it probably doesn't matter a lot, so just try a few and see what you like. If you want to play the who-owns-who game and skip particular companies, that's fine, but I personally love Silk soy and almond milk, unsweetened varieties.

Homemade almond milk stays fresh for several days in the fridge--I wouldn't keep it more than a week. It is somewhat labor intensive, so I probably wouldn't recommend it right off the bat as you use such a small amount. On the flip side, you can easily make just what you need for the next few days. If you feel like taking on the project, go for it. It's not difficult, but it does take some time.
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#15 Old 11-04-2012, 10:43 AM
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For years we only used the non-refrigerated cartons, now there are more people in my house, and we go through more milk, so we buy the larger refrigerated cartons, because it's a better deal price-wise. The non-cold containers can also be harder to recycle - depending on where you live. Also, the non-refrigerated containers seem to have a little more thick stuff on the bottom than regular cartons. Both kinds last about a week I assume, but we rarely go through just one carton a week, so I can't be totally sure.

 

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Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post

 

The only brand of soy milk I've seen in the refrigerated section is Silk, who was sold to Dean Foods a while back. That's a company I am boycotting so I never looked at the ingredients.


I do know that West Soy has no additives, and EdenSoy's additives are just more food. These are both brands you'll find in the boxes.

 

One small difference between the boxes and the refrigerated cartons is that since the boxes need no refrigeration there is less energy consumption in their transport.

 

I refuse to use Silk too, because one, they are owned by Dean Foods who I'm also boycotting, two they have zero organic ethics and three they just gave a ton of cash to no on Prop 37 (in support of NOT labeling GMOs). Silk is a horrid company. That said, there are lots of other refrigerated milks. Most stores, like Whole Foods, Kroger, etc., have their own store-brand soy milk, which is a really inexpensive, good buy usually. And even if you buy from an unethical store (Target for example), it's likely still a better choice than Silk - they're the worst IMO. 

 

One thing to note. You may want to try different flavors. For example, we were buying the plain soy milk (Kroger brand) for a long time, because 10 years back a lot of vanilla soy milk tasted REALLY sweet thus super weird in mashed potatoes or other foods, but recently we tried the vanilla (Kroger) store-brand milk and everyone in my house who still missed cow's milk a little liked it way better, saying, "It tastes more like "real" milk." Taste is a moot point to me because I don't drink milk plain - just use it in foods I make, but if you ever drink it plain, you may want to try different kinds until you settle on a favorite. 

 

Also good to know is that you should always shake soy milk a bit before using it, as soy milk thickening agents tend to settle on the bottom of the carton. 

 

ADDED: Also, I've used different kind of plant milks for baking and think soy is the best hands down. Others are a bit too watery. So if you like to bake, soy is likely best. 


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#16 Old 11-04-2012, 11:02 AM
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I shop at a very small local store. Their refrigerated plant milk section is literally one shelf under the plant yogurts. They only have Silk soy milk and Almond and Rice Dream milks in the fridge, but they dedicate half of an entire aisle to the aseptic cartons! 

 

I've been considering going to Whole Foods more often, as my DH is complaining about the prices of packaged goods at the other store, so I will check it out. :)


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#17 Old 11-04-2012, 09:32 PM
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How would this compare in price?


Well, it takes about 3 cups of almonds to make a pound, and a pound goes for $6 US. So figure about $2 to make 4 cups of almond milk this way, which is a savings of about 50 percent.

 

I think the cheapest way is to make oat milk. It's the same principle as the almond milk, but doesn't require the extensive soaking. It works out to less than 10 cents to make 32 ounces.

 

I've never tried drinking it as a beverage, but it works great on cereal.


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#18 Old 11-04-2012, 09:49 PM
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Making your own soy milk can be INCREDIBLY cheap. I get a big bag of dried soybeans from a Chinese apothecary for about $2CDN, it makes at least...20 cups of soymilk with my maker (not all at once, but like 4 cups of soymilk per 1 cup of beans. Unfortunately, I can't speak to the quality of the beans. The price will probably increase if you buy organic.


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#19 Old 01-02-2013, 04:07 AM
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I drink Kirkland's Organic soymilk, which is Costco's brand Not too expensive either, comes with 12 quarts for about 12-13 dollars.  The ingredients don't look bad either. They are:

 

Organic soymilk (filtered water, whole organic soybeans,), organic cane sugar, tricalcium, citrate, sea salt, carrageenan, organic vanilla flavor, natural flavors, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, Riboflavin(B2), and Vitamin B12.

 

 

I don't know too much about it, but that ingredient list doesn't seem bad to me, maybe something to look into?

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#20 Old 02-10-2013, 10:37 AM
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It's been a few months since I started this message thread, and I'm happy to say I've found a non-dairy "milk" that I like.   It's Natur-a Vanilla.   It's made with organic ingredients, and  it really tastes good.   http://www.nutrisoya.com/

 

I'm still not 100% convinced that it is totally healthy, but I do feel good knowing it's made from whole, non-genetically-modified, 100% organic soybeans, and not soy concentrate or soy isolate. 

 

I'm not thrilled with the sunflower oil, and may switch to their vanilla "light" which doesn't include it.

 

Anyone have any thoughts on these ingredients?  

 

FILTERED WATER, ORGANIC SOYBEANS, EVAPORATED ORGANIC CANE JUICE, SUNFLOWER OIL, NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOUR WITH PURE VANILLA EXTRACT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, NATURAL FLAVOURS, SEA SALT, XANTHAN GUM, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, RIBOFLAVIN (B2), VITAMIN D2, VITAMIN B12, THIAMINE (B1), NIACIN (B3), VITAMIN B6, PANTOTHENATE (B5).

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#21 Old 02-10-2013, 10:57 AM
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Beside the natural flavours the rest is fine. Remember that sunflower oil is full of vitamin E and low in saturated fat, it's a good healthy oil.


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#22 Old 02-16-2013, 06:38 PM
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I use to drink Silk soymilk and was hooked on Wild Harvest soymilk. I converted to Blue Diamonds Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk and love it. But my local stores are no longer carrying Wild Harvest anymore. All I see is Blue Diamond and Silk.
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#23 Old 02-19-2013, 07:48 AM
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I dig coconut milk


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