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A Crash Course on Plant-Based Milks

Once upon a time, if you were lactose intolerant, vegan, or simply not a fan of dairy milk, your options for an alternative were rather limited.  Soy was a given, as the first mainstream plant-based milk option, and if you were lucky, you may have been able to find an expensive carton of almond or coconut milk.  And if you weren’t happy with either of these three, you’d find yourself out of luck, and settling for one of them. 

Gone are the days of limited milk alternatives.  Now, we have tipped the scale a bit further in the opposite direction—the amount of options is overwhelming.  Any kind of nut you can think of has been soaked and squeezed and blended into a milk substitute, alongside hemp, rice, peas, oats, and more.  We’re living in something of a golden age of plant milk, and making a decision on what to splash into your coffee or drown your cereal in has become increasingly difficult.  So, let’s take a quick crash course on dairy milk alternatives, and give you the information to pick the perfect one for you.

Soy

If your purpose in a plant-based milk is to replace the nutritional content you would have found in a cup of cow’s milk, soy may just be your best bet.  High in protein, a nutrient most other alternatives are lacking in, soy provides the closest nutritional label to dairy milk in this lineup.  It is often less expensive than other options, and it is readily available—almost any coffee shop or grocery store will be keeping soy on its shelves.  Of course, for those with soy allergies, this is not a viable option.  Soy also has quite a distinct taste, so if you are looking for something close in flavor to dairy milk, look elsewhere.  Although it has recently garnered a bit of a bad reputation for causing health problems, the vast majority of these are speculations with no medical backing.  While not the “trendy” option right now, there is a reason soy has been around for so long, and it is still a great choice.

Coconut

Another “original,” coconut milk has been an option for quite some time now.  Widely available and known for its distinctly sweet, tropical taste, if you are a fan of the taste of coconut in general, this is a great fit for you.  You can taste notes of coconut through even the strongest coffees, so if you are looking to add that dimension of flavor, perfect, but if you want your coffee to shine, this may not be the option for you.  It also has quite a high fat content, however while its protein content is lower than soy’s, it does typically boast a few more grams per cup than many alternatives.

Almond

Perhaps the most well-known alternative derived from nuts, almond is a favorite for many people.  It is low in calories and tastes great, however it has little nutritional content in general and is lacking in the protein that many people look for in their milk.  Although its flavor is not as strong as that of coconut, it does add a distinct nutty dimension to your coffee.

Rice

Rice milk is a wonderful choice for those afflicted by food allergies to soy or nuts.  Free of the most common allergens, most people can drink it safely.  If you have a sweet tooth, this is one of the more naturally sweet choices!  However, it is high in carbohydrates, meaning it isn’t a great choice for those with diabetes.  It is also not a reliable source of protein, an issue that many plant-based milks run into.

Oat

Recently popularized by Oatly, oat milk has been flying off the shelves as of late, and for good reason.  As oats are naturally gluten-free, many people with sensitivities flock to it.   If this is your reasoning for choosing an oat beverage, be sure the brand you are going with is certifiably gluten-free, as oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat.  Besides that, its creamy nature and lack of an overpowering taste make it a great choice for applications within the coffee world.  And while its protein content doesn’t stack up to dairy milk, it does contain the highest amount of fiber of any milk or milk alternative.

Hemp

Although produced from the cannabis plant, adding hemp milk to your latte won’t result in any psychoactive effects.  It’s another great naturally gluten-free option (again, check that the brand you choose is certified!), providing an earthy flavor full of healthy fats and low on calories.    While it’s a tasty, nutritional option, it can be harder to find in stores and cafes—good thing you can order it from us to use at home!

Macadamia

While you may not have heard as much about macadamia milk as soy or oat, it is a delicious, creamy plant-based alternative.  High in healthy fats, naturally gluten-free, and free of the environmental issues that come with many nut-based milks, macadamia milk is a great option for many.  On the downside, many people with peanut allergies may also have a reaction to macadamias, and it can be hard to find in coffee shops.  However, it complements wonderfully with coffee, and we encourage you to try some at home and suggest it to your local café!

Other Alternatives

Although this may seem like a crazy amount of choices already, there are plenty of other plant-based milks floating around!  From pea milk, hailed for its high protein and low sugar content, to the vitamin-rich cashew, hazelnut, walnut, and peanut milks, there is an alternative for every diet.  You can even make milk alternatives from flax and sunflower seeds! 

No matter your dietary choices or taste preferences, you are sure to find a milk alternative that suits you.  Take advantage of Fortuna’s low prices on high quality plant-derived milks and find your favorite today!

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