The Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free, Plant-Based Milks

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If you have decided to ditch the dairy in your diet, your body will thank you. Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, and the consumption of dairy products has been linked to everything from increased risk of ovarian and prostate cancers to ear infections and diabetes. Fortunately, plant-based milks provide a convenient and healthful alternative to cow’s milk. And if you are currently making the transition to a dairy-free diet, you will find that going dairy-free has never been easier. Soy, almond, hemp, coconut, and rice milks, among others, are taking over the dairy case—and claiming supermarket aisles all their own. There are dozens of brands of plant-based milks and hundreds of options to choose from to meet everyone’s individual tastes and nutritional needs. So how do you choose the best dairy-free milk for your diet? Read on to find out.


Due to the overwhelming selection of plant-based milks available, it can be difficult to decide which plant-based milk to choose. In most cases, what to choose comes down to personal taste preferences. Experiment with a variety of dairy-free milks to see what pleases your palate. Coconut and soy milks tend to be sweeter and creamier in consistency. Almond, hemp, and hazelnut milks have a slightly nutty flavor to them. And rice milk tends to be more mildly sweet and thin in consistency. Differences can be noted not only among varieties of dairy-free milks, but also among brands; so experiment to find which plant-based milks please your taste buds.


Nutrition may also play a role in determining which dairy-free milk you choose. Like cow’s milk, many varieties of dairy-free milks are fortified with nutrients including vitamins A and D.  Soy and hemp milks are great choices for those wishing to boost protein in their diets; both soy and hemp are complete proteins providing all nine essential amino acids. Many non-dairy types of milk are also fortified with calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron. So if you are looking to give your diet a little nutrient boost, non-dairy milks may provide the nutrients you need. Be sure to read food labels to assist in selecting a fortified product to meet your needs.

Recipe Modification

Choosing dairy-free milk may also be influenced by how you plan to utilize the milk. In general, most recipes calling for cow’s milk can easily be substituted with any plant-based milk. Almond, hemp, soy, coconut, and rice milks can easily be used in baked goods. Soy, coconut, and hazelnut milks are great substitutes for cream in coffee due to their thicker consistencies and flavors. And soy and rice milks are wonderful additions to sauces and soups. Again, most choices come down to personal taste preferences, so feel free to experiment to find the perfect dairy-free milk for your needs.

Check out our favorite plant-based milks below:

1. Almond Milk

Almond milk doesn’t taste anything like dairy milk, offering its own unique light and nutty flavor. This yummy dairy-free beverage provides us with minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, as well as antioxidants selenium and vitamin E. Almond milk is versatile and can be used in baking, hot drinks, smoothies, as well as drunk alone. It is sometimes flavored with chocolate or vanilla. Read our guide to Almond milk to learn more about popular brands or make it yourself, you will be surprised to learn how easy it is! In fact, many recipes taste much better with almond milk than dairy milk, like these cinnamon rolls or this breakfast parfait with chia seeds. But our favorite is these Raw Raspberry and Banana-Peanut Truffles!

2. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is high in fiber, vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, C, and E; as well as various minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium, sodium, and zinc. It also contains a high level of omega 3, 6 and 9 fats along with essential amino acids. The only downside to coconut milk is the high content of saturated fat, and because of the link between this and coronary heart disease, coconut milk is seen as a food that should be consumed in moderation. Coconut milk is high in fiber, however, which makes us feel fuller for longer, therefore helping to control consumption and weight. Read our guide to coconut milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make coconut milk yourself! Ice-creams do great with coconut milk, try this Lavender Coconut Ice Cream or the Cherry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Toasted Pecans but the easiest one of all are these Raw Fruit Popsicles with Coconut Milk!

3. Flax Milk

Flax milk contains omega-3 fatty acids, from cold-pressed flax oil, that has been shown to help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Flax milks are fortified with minerals and vitamins, including vitamins A, B12 and D, as well as calcium, which equals the nutritional value of other milk alternatives. The only downside to flax milk is that it contains no protein. However, there are numerous excellent plant-based sources of protein such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, and wholegrains which can be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Read our guide to flax milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make flax milk yourself!

4. Hazelnut Milk

Hazelnut milk is a good source of vitamins B1, B2 and B6 which are all essential in blood formation and mental health, as well as an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin E which promotes healthy hair and skin, as well as boosting the health of the heart muscle. Hazelnuts are also rich in folic acid, which is important for growing babies and adults, this helps to produce red blood cells and transport oxygen around the body.  It doesn’t taste anything like dairy milk, offering a nutty flavor that is stronger than almond milk. Read our guide to hazelnut milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make hazelnut milk yourself!

5. Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is rich in plant-based omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which has been proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids, all 10 essential amino acids; calcium; folic acid; riboflavin; phosphorous; potassium; magnesium; iron; zinc; as well as vitamins A, B12, D and E. Hemp milk is creamier and thicker than most other milk alternatives and has a delicious and original flavor that cannot be easily distinguished from dairy milk when mixed in beverages. Read our guide to hemp milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make hemp milk yourself! Green smoothies can get an extra kick of nutrition if you make them with this powerhouse milk, check out this easy guide to making great green

6. Oat Milk

Oat milk is high in fiber and iron, as well as low in calories, fat and sugars. It can enhance the immune system; maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as protect against heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. In addition it provides important minerals including manganese, potassium, phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, B, and E.  Oat milk is very versatile and can be used in baking, cooking, drunk plain, or added to cereal and hot beverages. Read our guide to oat milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make oat milk yourself! his Vegan Vegetable Tartuses oat milk!

7. Rice Milk

Rice Milk is a dairy-free grain milk made from (generally) brown rice, which for the most part remains unsweetened, although some rice milks are now sweetened with natural ingredients such as sugarcane. Rice milk is fortified with minerals and vitamins, including calcium, iron, niacin, as well as vitamins A, B12 and D. It is also low in fat, making it a particularly good milk substitute for baking, cooking, and drinks. As with almond, coconut, hemp, and oat, rice milk is a great milk alternative for those who are allergic to soy, although not offering the same health benefits. Read our guide to rice milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make rice milk yourself! It should not come as a surprise that rice milk works wonders in desserts; try these delicious Spiked Sweet Potato Truffles, and if you are looking for something healthy and creative, try the Beet-root Chocolate Frosted Cupcake or the Yeasted Pumpkin Pancakes!

8. Soy Milk

Soy milk contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which aid blood pressure and cholesterol reduction, in addition to which it helps protect against cardiovascular and neurological diseases. It is an excellent sources of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc, helping to control blood pressure, improve blood oxygenation, and protect against other diseases. There are an unbelievable number of soy milk brands on the market at the moment, all offering a huge array of soy milk products. Read our guide to soy milk to learn more about popular brands you can choose and how to make soy milk yourself! While you can swap soy milk for dairy milk in hundreds of recipes, our favorite way to use soy milk is in cupcakes, especially vegan ones — here’s a collection of our favorite vegan cupcakes that are made with soy milk!

There are a handful of other plant-based milks, including cashew and quinoa, although these are a lot harder to obtain. Sometimes, however, it’s possible to find them blended with other grains and nuts, such as almonds or rice. Good luck on your dairy-free adventures!

Source : One Green Planet

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