With recent studies indicating increasing intolerances to cow’s milk products, many lactose-intolerant dairy fans are seeking alternative sources for calcium-rich and protein-high milk-esque products. While plant-based milks have been produced and drunk for centuries (which could be grounded in the fact that most adult humans can’t – and genetically, maybe, shouldn’t – digest animal milk after infancy), options are becoming more prevalent and more accessible; lactose-reduced and lactose-free cow’s milk options are available, but there are also plenty of alternative options that depart the dairy realm altogether. If it all seems a little too tedious to navigate, fear not; start here.
For those tackling the reality of wanting what they can’t have in the dairy department, goat’s milk is a comparative alternative. Goat’s, who share the bovidae family with domestic cattle, produce milk that is lower in lactose and higher in calcium, making it a smarter choice for sensitive stomachs. It’s a popular choice to eat in yogurts, cheeses, and ice cream due to its incredible versatility. Start exploring goat’s milk with this panna cotta recipe.
Soy, ever the friend of the non-carnivore, is beneficial in more ways than tofu lets on. One of the most protein-rich plant-based substitutes for dairy, soy is a complete protein. It is, however, low in calcium, which means many options on the market add calcium to compensate. It can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in recipes, coffee or tea (although it can, if poured in too early, “curdle” due to a reaction with the acidity of beans or leaves), and is often debated as a smarter ecological choice than dairy-produced milks. (Make this spiced coconut pudding and celebrate soy milk in all the right ways.)
A creamier and nuttier substitute for milk, almond milk has been a fan favourite since the Middle Ages. It’s high in calcium, has less calories than dairy milk, and contains no lactose. Tetra-packed options come in a variety of flavours (including sweetened, unsweetened, protein-added among other options), but it might not be the smartest option for the environment: reports suggests that the demand for almond milk is unsustainable, with crops demanding more water for nut than is feasible. To make it yourself, try this calming recipe.
Made typically from brown rice grains, rice milk contains higher levels of carbohydrates but is not particularly rich in protein or calcium, so it’s not considered a strong substitute for cow’s milk. It’s got a naturally sweet taste but it’s lower in fat than animal milks, and there are fortified options to make up for the other naturally-absent vitamins and minerals. Try it out in this chai.
Some more options
High in fibre and protein, oat milk is lactose-free and low in sugar and fat. It’s versatile, can be made at home, and provides a great substitute in milk-based recipes. And it’s readily available at the supermarket. Hemp milk, however, is not. While it’s a high-protein, plant-based milk that’s full of amino acids, its consumption is illegal in Australia and New Zealand at current, though.