Many people have considered going vegan or cutting out dairy but have no clue where to start. I must admit that cutting out meat can be quite difficult and going cold turkey (pun intended) is not the best idea. From my experience the best and easiest way to start your dairy-free and vegan journey is to cut out cow’s milk.
The great debate of plant based milks raises two questions: 1) which plant-based milk is the best? and 2) why are they called milks if you can’t milk them (them being nuts, coconuts, rice, oats and soy beans)?
For the sake of transparency I will admit that I know the answer to the first question only. Why plant-based milks are called milks is something I have failed to explain. But after four years of trying and tasting almost every alternative to cow’s milk out there I can tell you which one is the best.
Honestly, most milk alternatives are the best depending on what you are drinking… or cooking. The beauty of plant-based cooking is that you can experiment with different flavours and consistencies in various ways without harming any animals.
I have tried and tested six milk alternatives and have come up with a list of the five best milk alternatives.
But first I have to share my least favourite milk.
The odd one out – the worst milk alternative
My least favourite plant-based milk is rice milk. Believe it or not but rice milk was actually the first dairy-free milk I tried. I did not hate it but didn’t I love it either. Its natural sweet taste is great in oats and cereals and that’s about it. It’s not really a diverse milk and the consistency is extremely thin. Its horrible in coffee (it tastes like bitter milk) and really is just boring.
Now lets get to the good stuff.
The Top 5 Best Dairy-Free Milks
- Oat milk
Oat milk is the girl she thinks she is. There is a reason why oat milk is becoming the most favourable milk option. First of all, it tastes great. Whether you have it unsweetened or a barista version, its sweet taste makes it perfect to use in almost everything from warm beverages to smoothies to cooking pasta sauces. Its consistency is also fairly similar to cows milk.
Best used for: anything. Go for it.
- Almond milk
Before oat milk was popularised almond milk was the IT milk. But due to the environmental concerns over the production of almond milk and the limitations it brings for people with nut allergies I’ve put almond milk at second place. For a long time almond milk was my favourite milk and I still sometimes order it with my cappuccino when oat milk is sold out. Almond milk unsweetened is fairly bitter and can be quite unpleasant with your homemade cup of coffee. However, it does well for cooking purposes. If you want almond milk in your drinks the best option is to get a barista version.
Best used for: coffees (hot and cold), pasta sauces, smoothies.
- Soy milk
Soy has been the longest running alternative to cows milk in the game. It is a common favourite for people who are lactose intolerant and is generally cheaper than other plant-based milks. Soy is so flexible and is closely resembled to the taste and consistency of cows milk. You can use it for literally anything.
Best used for: beverages, vegan “cheese”, baking and cooking.
- Coconut milk
This plant-based option can be quite tricky unless you know how to use it! Coconut milk is a lot sweeter and thicker than other milks. I generally only use it for cooking purposes. I have tried it in warm beverages and the coconut flavour just overpowers everything and can leave a bitter aftertaste. It is however so much better in cooking and dairy-free yoghurts. The coconut flavour isn’t as overpowering when used for cooking purposes and it actually compliments other flavours in the dish. I like to use it in curries and for thick pasta sauces.
Best used for: cooking, yoghurts, vegan “cheese” , whipping cream and sauces.
- Macadamia Milk
This plant-based milk is still new to me and it is already one of my favourites. It is sweeter than almond milk and almost tastes like oat milk…only nuttier. Yes, the macadamia taste comes through but it’s bearable. It tastes amazing in warm beverages. It adds an extra nutty flavour which can compliment the coffee, coco or chai or whatever warm beverage you are having.
Best used for: beverages and cereals.
Which milk is your favourite?