Battle of the alternative milks. Which one should you be drinking?

Confession time.  Drinking dairy milk seriously disturbs me. I have always questioned why we humans are the only mammal to drink another mammal’s milk. Let us face it, dairy on the plate can make your diet great but it is for the reason above that I have found using plant-based milks attractive.

We are constantly barraged by news notifications, informing us that oat milk is dangerous. That soy contains dangerous levels of human hormones, so I thought the time was right to do some digging and have a say once and for all on what is the best plant milk?  

Balancing sustainability with taste, here is my reviews on the most readily available plant-based milks.


Sustainability– *

Taste– * * 

Firstly, coconut milk is amazing in curry and sauce recipes but not so great in your steaming hot chocolate. Yet the exploitative nature of the industry is enough to turn the milk sour. With Indonesian farmers paid less than one dollar a day, it’s important that if you want to help the planet you must only buy fair trade.


Sustainability– * * * *

 Taste– * *

It would be fair to say that hemp milk was a bit meh. It is the Nando’s lemon and herb sauce of plant-based milks. Also, it is less widely available in Durham so regular consumption could put you out of pocket.

In terms of sustainability, using hemp milk as a substitute is a no brainer. It is produced in smaller quantities meaning it avoids the monoculture experimentation which hamper other plant-based milks.


Sustainability – * * *

Taste –  *

Whilst hugely popular among the majority, soy milk just does not do it for me. It is incredibly sweet yet possesses a vegetable flavour which in my opinion ruins any milk-based recipe.

On the upside its protein content is the most comparable to dairy and has been said to be healthy for women. Yet like any food health claim it remains disputed.

The large swathes of the rainforest in the amazon burned to create soy farms is the final push I needed to keep me unconvinced to pick this alternative off the shelf.


Sustainability  – *

Taste – * * * *

Yes, almond milk makes a fabulous hot chocolate. But its damaging effects on the environment makes my blood curdle. 130 pints of water is needed to produce a single glass. A recent guardian investigation revealed that 50 billion bees – so over seven times the world’s human population – were wiped out in a few months during the winter months due to over pollination of almonds. The more I read into almond milk, the more I hated it. Do not let a glossy Alpro advert fool you- almond milk is deadly. Plus, as my mother reminded me it ruins a rice-pudding.


Sustainability – * *

Taste – *

If you want to pour dishwater into your coffee, please go ahead. Yes, it looks like milk, yes it smells like milk, but it certainly is not milk. It has a very indistinct flavour and possesses so little nutrition for such a greater price.  I recommend you pass on this one.

It also emits the most greenhouse gas emission than any other plant-based milk, so you’re not actually helping the environment drinking it.


Sustainability – * * * * *

Taste – * * * *

One of my personal favourites, hazelnut milk is the angel of the nut-based milk family as it both tastes deliciously rich and is much better for the environment than its distanced cousin, almond milk.

Hazelnut trees pull carbon from the atmosphere and are pollinated by wind rather than bees. This means you will not feel guilty drinking a glass. Hazelnut milk also makes a scrumptious bowl of porridge.


Sustainability – * * * * 

Taste- * * * * *

The king or queen of the plant-based milks. For anyone wanting to venture into the plant-based milk world, I would seriously recommend. Not only is it the creamiest, but it is also more readily available and a less expensive alternative.

One drawback is that oat production can sometimes use pesticides, yet popular brands do maintain that their oats are glyphosate free.


The world of plant-based milk is shrouded with controversies and confusion. What seems like a healthy option, may not be. What is advertised as sustainable may be secretly harmful. Yet environmentally they are always superior to dairy milk which produces three times the amount of greenhouse gas.

Yet the important thing is to drink what you like. There comes a point when taste must champion over sustainability.  There are so many options out there and many more coming on to the market- pea milk anyone? Go see what your favourite is.


Featured Image by Kjokkenutstyr Net on Flickr

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