If you read our blog frequently, you probably know we’re big fans of plant-based diets. A common concern that we hear frequently regarding moving to this type of diet is how to get enough protein and nutrients. Often times, the easiest way to address this is to practice the art of food substitution, where you simply change what you might normally eat for something that’s plant-based but similar in taste, flavor, and texture.
One food item that is sometimes difficult to substitute is milk. Milk is one of the most common staples in the American diet, Americans consume approximately 50 million pounds of fluid milk each year, which comes to about 18 gallons per person. However, this figure has been falling steadily in recent years, as more and more Americans are turning to plant-based milk substitutes. Whether it’s the classic soy milk or any of the newer nut-based milks, there are a lot of options out there for anyone who wants to make the change.
With World Plant Milk Day coming up right around the corner on August 22, we thought it’d be a good idea to discuss some of the reasons why plant-based milk might be a good choice for you.
Good Sources Of Protein
If protein is a concern, then at least soy milk will is a good alternative; it has as much as regular cow milk. However, nut milks tend to have far lower amounts of protein and therefore are not always good sources of protein. That said, protein in plant-based diets can come from a wide variety of sources, and plant-based milks can contribute to a person’s daily protein needs.
Low Fat Alternatives
One of the things that makes cow milk so tasty is its high fat content, coming in at about 8 gram of fat per serving of whole milk. Of course, there are low-fat (2.5 – 5 grams of per serving) and no-fat versions of cow milk. Generally speaking, though, plant-based milks have a far lower amount of fat. Soy and coconut milks typically have about 4 grams of fat per serving, while rice and almond milks have about 2.5 grams per serving. What’s more, the majority of fat in cow milk is saturated fat, the type of fat typically associated with heart disease. Soy milk is much lower in saturated fat, while almond milk has no saturated fats. Fat found in coconut milk, though, is nearly entirely saturated fat, so keep in mind that some alternatives aren’t necessarily a good match for a diet.
Good For The Earth
One consideration that many people have when moving to plant-based milk is their impact on the environment. As you might imagine, producing the plants that go into these milk requires land and water resources, both in terms of growing them but also in terms of actually producing them. One thing is true, though, no matter what type of plant-based milk you prefer: The amount of land and water needed for cow milk far exceeds what other milk require. That said, oat and hemp milk typically have the lowest environmental impact, as the plants require less land and water to produce.
A Note About Allergies
Soy and nut allergies are very common, and it’s a good idea to get checked if you start having any reactions to consuming any type of plant-based milk alternative.
If you’d like to explore strategies for incorporating plant-based milk into your diet, schedule an appointment with one of our nutritionists. We can help you develop a customized integrative approach to living a healthier, leaner lifestyle