The Dairy Free Plant Milks You Need To Try

Lactose intolerance, following lactose-free diet, vegan diet, gluten-free diet, nursing a baby who can’t tolerate dairy, and taste preferences are just a few of the reasons some people choose to drink or cook with non-dairy, plant-based milks.

The Problem with Dairy Milk

Dairy contains morphine-like endorphin compounds that interact with opiate receptors in the brain and other bodily tissues. Immune response to the protein casein in cows milk has been linked to playing a role in conditions ranging from depression to schizophrenia.

Many of the most commonly consumed foods in Western culture actually contain narcotic properties associated with the presence of psychoactive chemicals that bind to opioid receptors in the nervous system. These peptides are so powerful that researchers block their action with drugs such as naltrexone which is used to treat addiction among heroin abusers and naloxone which is used to prevent death from a heroin overdose.

Cow's milk, depending on the milk variety (A1 or A2), contains a variety of casomorphin peptides, these "food opiates" are heavily concentrated in wheat and dairy products, especially cow’s milk.

Dairy Milk is often loaded with synthetic hormone-laden chemicals, milk is highly refined to help prolong the shelf-life by pasteurisation and homogenisation. Pasteurisation heats the milk to high temperature to kill off bacteria, during this process enzymes and vitamins are destroyed. The homogenisation process gives the milk its creamy consistency by changing the size and shape of the milk fat, which makes it more likely to enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation within the body. The smaller molecules of the milk fat also bind to the arterial walls, the body then protects the area by producing a layer of cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease.

Lactose Intolerance is a well know dairy sensitivity, the lining of the microvilli produces the digestive enzyme lactase. If your intestines have increased inflammation for any reason, for example eating gluten with gluten sensitivity, the amount of lactase enzyme is reduced dramatically. Without this enzyme, we develop lactose intolerance. Approximately 50% of people with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) also have lactose intolerance.

Approximately 80% of the protein in cows milk and 20-45% of the protein in human milk come from casein. Casein is a difficult protein to digest it takes hours to breakdown in your intestines. The immune system can react in different ways depending on which component of dairy your body sees as an irritant. Exposure to high levels of casein can lead to an immune response of inflammation similar to the immune system reaction to gluten.

Human consumption of Dairy is linked to the following autoimmune conditions: 

  • Acne
  • Hashimoto's
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes

One of the best ways to ascertain whether food opiates or an immune response is affecting your health is to embark on an elimination diet. After a set amount of time (depending on which elimination diet you choose to follow) dairy can be reintroduced to help ascertain if you have a reaction. 

Plant-Based Milk Alternatives

When choosing store-bought plant-based milk it is important to read labels and look for plant milks verified as non-GMO with minimal additives and added oils. Many brands fortify their products with extra essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin D or calcium. Better still, try taking your own! (link at the end of post.)

ALMOND // Has a smooth, mild taste and texture, lower in calories (about 40 per cup) than many other options and is low in protein. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Calories: 39
  • Fat: 3g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.5g
  • Calcium: 516mg 

CASHEW // Has a light creaminess and mild flavor, works well in both sweet and savory foods. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Calories: 25g
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 160mg
  • Potassium: 25mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Vitamin: A 10% (RDA) 
  • Calcium: 45% (RDA) 
  • Iron: 2% (RDA) 

COCONUT // Has a naturally sweet taste, works well in both sweet and savory. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Calories: 45
  • Fat: 4.8g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Potassium: 50g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6g
  • Protein 0.5g
  • Calcium 1% (RDA) 
  • Iron: 4% (RDA) 

HAZELNUT // Provides a flavour that many people find warm and pleasing that can be a great change of pace in beverages and baked goods. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 130mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Sugars: 3g
  • Vitamin D: 4% (RDA) 
  • Calcium: 15% (RDA) 

HEMP SEED /A good alternative for those with nut allergies, hemp plant-based beverages can be used as a creamy base to add a mild, nutty flavour. Hemp milk is an excellent way of getting those essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), Omega 3s and 6s for supporting heart health. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Protein: 2g with all 10 essential amino acids
  • Calcium30% (RDA) 
  • Vitamin D: 25% (RDA)  
  • Vitamin A10% (RDA)  
  • Vitamin E8% (RDA) 
  • Vitamin B2: 25% (RDA) (riboflavin) and B12
  • Minerals: Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc
  • Omega: 3 and omega 6 fatty acids

MACADAMIA // Popular option for lattes and similar milky coffee drinks. Also, low in protein (unless it’s been fortified with pea protein), this one is great for adding to a hot drink or using as a base for something else where you’ll get the protein you need from another source. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Calories: 50
  • Fat: 5g
  • Sodium: 95mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Vitamin A: 10% (RDA) 
  • Calcium: 45% (RDA) 
  • Iron: 2% (RDA) 

OAT // Oat beverages have a lush texture while still maintaining a lightness, provides some fiber (about 2 grams). If you are following a gluten-free diet remember only oat milk made from gluten-free oats is gluten-free, so double-check. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Calories: 130 
  • Fat: 2.5g 
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 4g
  • Calcium: 35% (RDA) 
  • Vitamin D: 25% (RDA) 

PEA // Is a great option for people with nut and soy allergies, and it packs in a lot more protein than many other plant milks. Most varieties provide about 10 grams per cup. It also has a mild, pleasant taste and texture and is incredibly versatile. It’s great for drinking as is or using as an ingredient in recipes. Per Cup (store bought milk)

  • Protein: 8.8g
  • Calcium: 300mg
  • Vitamin D: 30%  (RDA)
  • Iron: 15% (RDA)
  • Vitamin A: 10%  (RDA)
  • Potassium: 450mg
  • Sodium: 130mg
  • Sugar: 0.2g 

    RICE // Many people have shied away from rice milk in recent years out of concern for arsenic poisoning, but as with rice in general, a little is OK, but if you’re concerned, mix it up with other options. Per Cup (store bought milk)

    • Calories45
    • Fat2g
    • Sodium135mg
    • Potassium15mg
    • Carbohydrates: 10g
    • Vitamin A: 72μg
    • Calcium200mg
    • Iron0.2mg

    SESAME SEED // An excellent source of non-heme iron (33% DV), zinc (21% DV) and a good source of many other vital vitamins and minerals. Sesame seeds contain phytosterols, lignans, heart-healthy oleic fatty acids plus unique substances such as Sesamin & Sesamolin. Per Cup (store bought milk)

    • Calories: 241.4
    • Fat: 17.9
    • Sodium: 6.6mg
    • Potassium: 250mg
    • Carbohydrates: 17.8g
    • Protein: 6.7g
    • Vitamin B6: 15.2%
    • Vitamin A: 0.1%
    • Vitamin E: 4.1%
    • Calcium: 35.8g%
    • Vitamin C: 0.1%

    SOY // Has a chalky taste which many people do not enjoy. It is often fortified with important nutrients like calcium and vitamin B12.  Per Cup (store bought milk)

    • Calories: 80
    • Fat: 4g
    • Protein: 7g
    • Carbohydrates: 4g
    • Sugar: 1g
    • Calcium: 299 mg (29% RDA)

    QUINOA // Is an excellent source of protein and contains the eight essential amino acids, so it’s a perfect food for vegans and vegetarians. It’s gluten-free, has a low glycemic index, it’s also high in fiber, it regulates cholesterol levels, prevent constipation and it’s rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6), potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium and vitamins B and E. Per Cup (store bought milk)

    • Fat: 1.2g
    • Sodium: 14mg
    • Potassium: 103mg
    • Carbohydrates: 13g
    • Dietary Fiber: 1.7g
    • Protein: 2.6g

    Which is the best dairy free milk for you?

    • Organic // Products with an organic label are produced without synthetic pesticides and artificial fertilisers, adhering to specific Organic Standards depending where you live; for example USDA, ACO and Ecocert.
    • Ingredients // Look for plant-based milk made with a short list of good-quality ingredients. Always read the label!
    • Sugar // If you want to cut added sugars out entirely, always choose an unsweetened variety or make your own dairy free milk.
    • Allergies // To cows milk or nuts you can find plant-based milk that is safe for you
    • Nutrient Profile // Wanting to reduce your calories or up your protein intake? there are plenty to choose from each offering a different nutrient profile 

    Make your own plant-based milk

    Why not try making your own plant-based milks at home? discover how along with recipes to follow at home here "How To Make Plant Based Milks"


    Until next time

    Be human, be kind, be you


    signature Gabrielle




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