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Almond, oat, soy and coconut: Which plant milk is right for you?
Published Friday, November 22, 2019 6:00AM PST Last Updated Monday, December 2, 2019 12:18PM PST
Is your milk moustache still made from cow’s milk? The plant-based milk industry is booming, and grocery store shelves are stocked with every kind of option you can imagine.
David Porcaro is a physical therapist, and he’s ready to ditch cow’s milk for a plant-based alternative.
“I’ve tried rice milk, oatmeal milk, hazelnut milk,” Porcaro said. “My favorite milk is almond milk.”
The market is saturated with options. In the past few years, sales of non-dairy milks are up 61 per cent. It’s an attractive option for people who are lactose intolerant, but also for those trying to move away from animal products.
More than half of plant milk buyers in a Consumer Reports survey said they think it’s healthier than cow’s milk.
If you are thinking of switching to plant-based milk, experts have a word of caution. “Cow’s milk is rich in protein, and supplies much of the calcium in most people’s diets but when you replace it with plant milk; you may actually be missing out,” said Ellen Klosz, a nutritionist with Consumer Reports.
From taste to nutrition, how do plant-based milks compare?
CTV News took to the streets of Vancouver to find out.
We spoke to five people who all taste-tested four different types of plant milk – all different brands, including Silk almond milk, Califia coconut milk, Earth's Own oat milk and organic soy milk. All products were unsweetened, and the most expensive was the coconut milk, retailing for $6.49.
If you’re ready to replace milk from a cow with milk from a plant, consider starting with soy. Nutritionally, it’s the closest to cow’s milk. The Earth's Own organic soy milk has 70 calories, zero grams of sugar and six grams of protein per one cup serving.
“Don’t like the aftertaste…tastes like cardboard,” said Robert, who participated in the taste test.
“Soy milk has about the same amount of protein, or more. And if it is fortified it can have similar vitamin and mineral content. But watch out for added sugars,” said Klosz.
Almond milk is the most popular plant milk. The Silk amond milk has 30 calories, zero grams of sugar and one gram of protein per one cup serving. It also has light to moderate almond flavor and little to no astringency or chalkiness, but experts say it contains low protein content and poor protein quality.
“A little bit, maybe sort of chalky, but not bad,” said Spencer.
Oat milk has a slightly sweet oat-y taste, and it has slightly less protein than soy or cow’s milk. The Earth's Own oat milk has 110 calories per serving, six grams of sugar and four grams of protein per one cup serving. It does have some fiber, but not enough to contribute much to your daily requirement.
“That’s delicious, oh my gosh!” said Brittany.
Coconut milk generally has mild coconut flavor, but it has little to no protein and is high in saturated fat. The Califia coconut milk has 50 calories, one gram of sugar, but less than half a gram of protein per one cup serving.
“Oh, that one’s a bit of an acquired taste,” said Felix, who also participated in the taste test.
When in doubt, look at the labels. A lot of plant milks contain added sugar and stabilizers so pick the one with the best nutritional profile and the fewest additives.
And the winner is…
Oat milk! Three out of five people surveyed said it was their favourite. One person voted for almond milk, and another person voted for coconut milk.
Ross and his producer Ashley participated in the taste test too, and oat milk was also their favourite.