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Calorie Count Blog

5 Alternatives to Cow's Milk


By +Carolyn Richardson on Sep 28, 2011 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

According to The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Americans consume an average of 23 gallons of fluid milk and cream, per person a year.  That’s a hefty 376 one-cup servings.  It may seem like a lot, but competition from other beverages like soft drinks and milk substitutes have caused a steady decline in U. S. milk consumption since 1945, when the numbers were double what they are now.   While some still laud the nutritional value of cow’s milk including calcium, protein, and vitamin D, the effects of allergens and hormones in dairy products are a growing concern.  Enter the growing milk substitute business that produces alternatives that look and taste like the real thing.  Though widely available, soy milk isn’t the only milk alternative. 

Almond Milk

The taste of almond milk is obviously nuttier, and thinner than cow’s milk. It is used in many recipes that call for milk, and is also added to cereals and smoothies.  Its nutritional value includes selenium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as fortified calcium and Vitamin D.  Almond milk runs between about 40 and 100 calories per 8 oz. serving and has half the fat as 2% milk. Available brands include Blue Diamond, Silk, Pacific Natural Foods and a host of health store and organic brands among others. 

Rice Milk

Sweeter and less versatile in recipes than milk, rice milk is a good alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.  It is often fortified with a slew of vitamins and minerals, including the calcium and protein it naturally lacks and runs at about 120 calories per cup.  Unsweetened rice milk has more carbohydrates than regular milk. Like almond milk, you can make your own rice milk.  But if you opt to purchase it, you can find unsweetened and sweetened varieties, as well as vanilla and chocolate flavors. 

Goat’s Milk

Said to be easier to digest than cow’s milk by the National Institutes of Health, goat’s milk has a similar consistency and taste, but is usually higher in calories per serving than 2% milk. Though not officially dairy, goat’s milk does contain proteins similar to cow’s milk and lactose, so those allergic to cow’s milk or lactose intolerant should be careful.  Goat’s milk may be harder to find in supermarkets, but health food stores usually carry at least one brand.  

Hemp Milk

Contrary to popular belief, hemp seed products will not give you a high. Though both marijuana and hemp seeds come from the same plant, hemp seed products are edible and legal.  Made like almond milk by soaking and ground with water, hemp milk has more fiber and protein.  Its consistency is that of rice or soy milk, but may also have a grittiness that turns some people off.  In addition to naturally occurring omega-3s and 6s, hemp milk has a good amount of essential amino acids as well.  Manitoba Harvest and Living Harvest are two of the available brands. 

Coconut Milk

Unlike the canned coconut milk used in some thai food recipes, coconut milk beverage products are only about 60 calories per cup, about half the calories of 2% milk. It also has a similar amount of saturated fat, which is linked to increased blood cholesterol levels.  So Delicious and Imagine’s Coconut Dream are two of the popular brands.

Honorable Mention: Oat Milk

Though very limited in availability and quite obscure to many consumers, oat milk is another alternative to cow’s milk. 


Your thoughts...

What's your favorite milk substitute and why? 



Comments


I like using Soy milk, & making my own almond milk!



I've tried some of them but i did not like them at all, milk is still the best choice for me.



I drink organic vanilla Soy milk (Parmalat brand) and I love it.

This milk is soooo good, my Kashi cereal and strawberries taste like a strawberry sunday!

I drink it since my iridologist examined the interior of my body through my eyes and suggested that I eat according to my blood type A; no red meat and no dairy among other things (not quite vegetarian).

It is also amazing that when your organs receive the vitamins they need to each function at 100%, every movement (wether exercise or not) is easy. I seem to even have a lilt in my step and I feel great.



Soy is not a good alternative for people that have a true  allergy to milk. the protein make up is almost exactly the same. Not to mention soy is GMO and mostly comes from China, therefore toxic.  there is also dary free, which is potato milk. it has almost the same texture and taste as lowfat cow's milk. you have to be careful with rice and potato milk as they are carbs, and you don't want to overload on carbs for several reasons. rice milk is another one you should buy only organic to avoid gmo's and arsenic, as in many milks the rice comes from china. another disturbing thing about milk alternatives is the packaging they come in, full of BPA's.



Slightly different situation in the UK.  I can buy soy, goat, oat and rice milk in the local supermarket without a problem but I've never found almond milk.  I would be interested in finding out how to make it?  Am contemplating a cows-milk free month to see if my stomach is less bloated at the end of it. 



I use orange juice or coffee on my cereal instead of milk.  Wife seems embarrassed but I don't get why.



NOT to be a nit-picker here...but looooots of grammatical errors in this article lol..."Unsweetened rice milk has more carbohydrates than regular milk, and is sometimes produced with added sugar." Huh?

Anyway, I drink Silk Soymilk myself...I prefer the unsweetened variety because it tastes much like regular skim milk...but my mom also buys the sweetened Plain version...the sweet taste of which I find a bit annoying, but whatever. It still makes oatmeal taste way better than with just water Tongue out

By the way...Am I weird for dipping my toast in soymilk? It tastes soooooo good when it gets soaked into the bread Smile



@Wholbrey- I (almost completely) cut out cows milk from my diet because I was getting bloated after breakfast and a few cups of white coffee. I feel so much better! I only drink black coffee now and if I do fancy some cereal I'll use soy milk. I used to be seriously (uncomfortably) bloated by about 11-12 in the day but now I only get bloated if I've eaten too much carby stuff for my dinner the night before (which isn't very often anymore).

I think it is worth giving it a try.

I still eat cheese and sometimes cream, creme fraiche etc... and don't have any issues.

Also, to the person that said everything from China is toxic- don't be so bloody ridiculous!! China does not equal toxic. That is quite a xenophobic thing to come out with!



I try not to drink any soy milk due to the over processing that has occurred with commercial farming.  There are studies revealing some of the issues with food allergies may be related to the genetic modification of soy & corn.  Have you ever heard of a baby being allergic to it's own mother's milk instead of those formulas?  That is a totally other subject so I'll move on.  Nonfat Greek yogurt and low fat cheese as well as dark leafy greens are my sources of calcium.  Goat's milk is wonderful especially if it is fresh and unpasteurized.  We usually boil it and then add it to our coffee, it makes the most incredible latte! 



And what's the price difference between good old-fashoned skim milk and these fancy alternatives? Bad enough I have to pay double for Greek yougurt, I'm not shelling out 6 bucks a gallon for "soy milk".



Before a recent surgery, I LOVED almond milk, but my taste buds have seemed to change. I've tried the soy milks (all kinds and flavors) and rice milk, but good ol' fashioned lactose free cow milk is best for me.

@ lucykemp21-you probably are lactose intolerant. I have the same problems when I drink milk and eat some ice creams. Most of the time, I stick to lactose free or use medicine like Lactaid, but sometimes the meds don't work either.

 



Unsweetened almond milk is my favorite, after that is soy. I have tried goat milk but it is very gamey tasting. I would like to try rice and hemp milk. I didn't realize rice milk was so high in calorie so I will be careful with that when I try it.

 



I love Cow's milk, but for a couple of my babies who were sensitive to lactose (after two rounds of antibiotics), I used rice milk and milk from a local dairy. It is hormone free and my boys could tolerate it. I won't use soy, especially with my boys, because soy is estrogenic. I have low progesterone and extra soy doesn't help that balance. I know it's the popular protein these days, but not for my family. Loving coconut milk as an awesome substitute these days and I use the stuff from the can. Wish I had known about it sooner!


There's a new documentary out called Got the facts on Milk? (also known as "The Milk Documentary".  You all may want to check it out.



Original Post by: jennrhewitt

Soy is not a good alternative for people that have a true  allergy to milk. the protein make up is almost exactly the same. Not to mention soy is GMO and mostly comes from China, therefore toxic.  there is also dary free, which is potato milk. it has almost the same texture and taste as lowfat cow's milk. you have to be careful with rice and potato milk as they are carbs, and you don't want to overload on carbs for several reasons. rice milk is another one you should buy only organic to avoid gmo's and arsenic, as in many milks the rice comes from china. another disturbing thing about milk alternatives is the packaging they come in, full of BPA's.


I agree jenn. China uses arsenic based pesticides and that really disturbs me. BPA's are also found in canned products, because the cans are lined with a BPA coating. Another surprising source of BPA is cash register receipts. Organic is nice, when it can be found.

It's also pretty difficult trying to find food that doesn't come from China. I get sick if I eat fresh mushrooms, but I can eat canned ones without a problem. I discovered that the only ones I can find that are NOT from China are the Pennsylvania Dutch unsalted variety.

Also, apple juice is made from apples imported from China, so I'm not so sure I'm going to be buying it anymore. I guess I'll go to my local apple orchards and buy lots of cider and freeze it. I don't blame everyone in China for all the poisoning of our animals and people, but I'm done taking chances. My sister's dog died from melamine-contaminated dog food.

I also try to buy American made products every chance I get. We have to keep our companies going and quit relying on imports!



Personally, I've tried just about all of the alternatives save Goat's milk since I am severely intolerant to lactose and milk proteins.

I get Organic Whole Grain Drink (unsweetened version) made with brown rice, amaranth, millet and quinoa from Trader Joe's. It is enriched with Vitamins A, D, B12 and Calcium. It's 50 calories per 1 cup serving with 3 grams total fat (1g polyunsaturated + 2g monounsaturated), 7 grams carbs and no protein. It tastes just like 1% milk and I can use it to cook, drink or eat with cereal. Totally versatile!

If you have a Trader Joe's near you it's worth giving a try at $1.99 per 1 quart. Storage and shelf life is very good, usually a year, and like regular milk it needs to be consumed within 10 days of opening.

My finicky kids drink it without any complaints.



I wish I could enjoy soy milk instead of cow's milk, but the taste just can't compare.  I've been drinking milk since childhood and even though I'm lactose intolerant (TMI!) I love the stuff.

If a non-dairy milk came out that tasted the same as cow's milk, I would be all over it - but until then, I'm sticking with milk! Tongue out



I like almond milk. Aldi's had almond milk available for a short time last year and it was very good. I generally use  Blue Diamond or the Pacific brand.



I'm from Romania, and I haven't seen any other milk types around except cow's, goat and soy.

I once read an article about how to make almond milk, but it seemed really messy and not a good idea..it takes a lot of almonds to make a small amount of milk. I think you're better off just eating the almonds.

I have switched to soy milk about 2 weeks ago..I drank 2 glasses of milk per day, and it bloated me horribly, but I still drank it, because I liked milk so much.

So now, I'm buys this soy milk that costs about 1/3rd more than the same amount of semi-skimmed cow's milk, but I feel light and great.

It's imported from Australia, so dunno if the soy is modified or "pesticided" or whatever...I just know I feel better.



Can't get soy, coconut, or almond milk to froth correctly for a great latte and paying three times the cost for a gallon of those products over cow non fat milk makes no sense to me.



I have to admit. I save enough calories for 2% milk. I've tried the alternatives, none of them taste as good as an ice cold glass of milk. I have no issue trading everything I drink for milk, I have no issue giving up soda (pop) for milk... but giving up milk....a hole other ball game. I "tolorate" some soy milks,  but that cow milk is some hard to beat.



Thank you for presenting alternatives to animal milk. Thanks to the propaganda of the USDA and dairy farmers, most Americans think animal milk is healthy, but it is not! Like all animal products, it is high in cholesterol and fat. Milk has been linked to breast cancer, asthma, and allergies. Animal fat leads to obesity, heart disease & cancers. Countries that consume the largest amounts of dairy products also have the highest rates of breast cancer & osteoporosis!

It takes a bit of time & effort for tastes to change. But like giving up meat and/or sugar, the reward-a longer, healthier life-is more than worth it. Each soy, almond, hemp, etc milk tastes different-some are good, some not so much. It is worth your good health to take the time to find one you like.



I'm surprised "Flax milk" was not mentioned. I'm told you can purchase it from most Walmart stores. It's Gluten, Sory and Dairy free.



Original Post by: peebeegee

I have to admit. I save enough calories for 2% milk. I've tried the alternatives, none of them taste as good as an ice cold glass of milk. I have no issue trading everything I drink for milk, I have no issue giving up soda (pop) for milk... but giving up milk....a hole other ball game. I "tolorate" some soy milks,  but that cow milk is some hard to beat.


I agree, I love 2% milk so I work it into my calories :) It's just so delicious! I too have tried other alternatives, and I could use them for maybe cereal or cooking but to just drink it I need real cow's milk! Usually the only beverages in my refrigerator are water, 2% milk, and 100% Apple Juice made in Michigan.



I just started drinking almond milk yesterday and I love the taste and the way my body reacts to it. I'm lactose intolerant and soy milk didn't make me feel any better. Almond milk is now my go to especially for post roller derby prctice smoothies. I just mix almond milk,chocolate protein powder and a banana and I am all set. :)



I would like to see where you get your information,  because it would see that I am not informed.

Yes, milk is fatty, and has cholesterol. Milk has been linked to breast cancer? I have never heard of this. Allergies? Everything has been linked to allergies. My sister is deadly allergic to Kidney Beans. I can't feed my kids this due to that. I knew people deadly allergic to Kiwis, peanuts, beans, soy etc. I don't think this is a good reason to give up eating something all together because the kid next door is or may be allergic. I would also love to read up on the corrilation between osteoporosis and milk. Last time I checked milk is high in calcium, which is required to slow the effects and prevent osteoporosis.

I'm not going to debate on why people need meat, this is pointless and will get into heated discussions, but we must all admit, as humans, as long as your receiving your intake of vitamins, minerals proteins, fats, etc, I don't care wether you eat a chicken or a substitute. To me all humans are the same.

I agree that there are healthy alternatives to milk, but to completely put milk out of the picture and critisize the government that animal milk is wrong, is a little over the line.



Original Post by: peebeegee

I would like to see where you get your information,  because it would see that I am not informed.

Yes, milk is fatty, and has cholesterol. Milk has been linked to breast cancer? I have never heard of this. Allergies? Everything has been linked to allergies. My sister is deadly allergic to Kidney Beans. I can't feed my kids this due to that. I knew people deadly allergic to Kiwis, peanuts, beans, soy etc. I don't think this is a good reason to give up eating something all together because the kid next door is or may be allergic. I would also love to read up on the corrilation between osteoporosis and milk. Last time I checked milk is high in calcium, which is required to slow the effects and prevent osteoporosis.

I'm not going to debate on why people need meat, this is pointless and will get into heated discussions, but we must all admit, as humans, as long as your receiving your intake of vitamins, minerals proteins, fats, etc, I don't care wether you eat a chicken or a substitute. To me all humans are the same.

I agree that there are healthy alternatives to milk, but to completely put milk out of the picture and critisize the government that animal milk is wrong, is a little over the line.


I'm sorry, this was supposted to be quoted and directed to meridithw

 



I'm diabetic so I would get things that are not added sugars.

Ive tried:

Unsweetened

rice , coconut and various others they were horrible. Tastes like polluted water lol.

I even tried Multigrain beverage. I thought I would love that and that turned out just as nasty.

I do love almond, hemp milk though.

I like SILK soymilk but I do get bloated if I have too much of it. Then I read about soybeans having estrogen in them so i had to cut back on that. I also had to cut back on eating Edamame when I know its so full of protein too.

I have a hard time finding goats milk here in Arizona though.

Can someone recommend some links to how to make almond milk? Does the same procedure work for other grains?

Ive been drinking 1% cow milk lately. I buy the ones that say no rBST on it. Does that mean anything anymore or does every brand just paste that on to sell more milk?

thanks



I always use unsweetened almond milk.  I don't usually drink it straight (before going vegan, I never liked straight milk, anyhow)  Unsweetened almond works best for my needs.. if I can't find it I get unsweetened soy, but the almond just seems to be easier on my stomach and digestive track...



I love coconut milk and drink it plain...not the vanilla, and have it on cereal. I cannot drink cow or soy milk as both cause digestive issues. There is another new documentary out about all animal products called Fork over Knife that is very good and really makes you think about diet and health. What I can't seem to give up though is my fat free half and half. I am wondering if I can tolerate black coffee and may give it a whirl...oh, but then there is yogurt too. Very hard to completely give up dairy when you have been raised on it all your life!!



Original Post by: stremidalasaetta

I've tried some of them but i did not like them at all, milk is still the best choice for me.


^^This.

I know a lot of people like soy/almond/rice milks, I've tried & tried & I can't stand them except for cooking.  And people with PCOS or other odd hormonal issues should avoid too much soy anyway, because of the estrogen.  Goat's milk is pretty good, but high in calories & harder to come by in the middle of a city.  When I buy milk, I get organic skim cow's milk, it doesn't have the possibility of weird hormones, and it lasts longer than the cheaper non-organic milk.  But for dairy, I'd rather have cheese anyway. Laughing



I used to hate soy milk, now I love it. I like hazelnut "milk" as well. If I were to drink a glass of regular milk, I'd probably get sick.



I really don't like the taste of regular milk, but I love oat milk (oat, not goat! ) and homemade rice milk. And soy milk, of course. 

I wish I could find almond milk in my country :(



I don't drink soy milk because of the estrogen, it is not good for men.  I like almond milk.  Will always drink cows milk.  I love goat cheeses



We are using Coconut Milk these days which is much better tasting than soy or almond.  It's a little thicker than the non-fat milk the kids are used to...so I water it down a bit. 



Comment Removed

I stopped drink cow's milk a few years ago after slowly stepping down in calories to use skim milk. There was no flavor in it at that point and I figured "why bother?". Since I'm mostly in maintenance at this point, I've brought back regular Half & Half, which I still measure out but haven't purchased regular milk and probably won't. I now enjoy Unsweetened Almond Milk and really love Unsweetened Hemp Milk. Since the hemp milk is higher in calories, it's more of a treat when I buy it. It's nice and creamy. I use the Almond Milk a lot in baking and just to drink. I've tried the alternative coffee creamers but they're all sweetened and overly so.



All this makes me wonder if goats are fed hormones too just like anything else?

I love goat cheeses!



Original Post by: phlutter

I always use unsweetened almond milk.  I don't usually drink it straight (before going vegan, I never liked straight milk, anyhow)  Unsweetened almond works best for my needs.. if I can't find it I get unsweetened soy, but the almond just seems to be easier on my stomach and digestive track...


You have got to try Hood Milk.  It has only 4 carbs, 3 g of sugar, and 35 calories per serving.  It is sold at Walmart and Kroger.  Kroger also has Carbmaster yogurt.  which is also around 3 carbs per container. 

Good Luck!



I recently started drinking unsweetened almond milk & am really liking it!  I have been adding a smidge of stevia & it is soooo good!!!!  I was making Kefir with cow's milk & wonder if I can use it in almond milk?? anyone know??  I love my kefir!! and miss it



Oh my gosh when are people going to learn that saturated fat isn't that awful for you, Coconut milk is full of Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are shown to take fat and burn it for energy, it will not raise your cholesterol and give you heart disease. With that said, obviously eat everything in moderation, but don't fear ALL saturated fats there are certain types that are actually good for you.



I use an unsweetened Almond milk. It's very hard to find light or unsweetened/unflavored milk substitutes.

If I want my "milk" sweet, I can sweeten it myself. Same goes for vanilla or chocolate.

Since I eat a predominantly Vegan diet, I can't find one company that uses a Vegan sweetener anyway.



I really don't like milk. I have a lactose intolerance issue, and I have stopped eating most dairy because of it... since then I haven't really had the craving for milk, and I hardly ever have any. When I do I go for Almond Milk. That's what I have in my basement waiting for me when I want to use it. I was having it with cereal for a while, but I went back to eating cereal dry because I like it better that way.



i just read that there is no such thing as fat free half & half:

 

Land O'Lakes Doesn't Want You to Know

. . . that There's No Such Thing as "Fat-Free" Half-and-Half

By definition, a half-and-half dairy product is 50 percent milk and 50 percent cream. Cream, of course, is pretty much all fat. So, technically, Fat Free Half & Half can't exist. What exactly is it? Skim milk--to which a thickening agent and an artificial cream flavor have been added. You may be disappointed in the payoff: 1 tablespoon of traditional half-and-half contains just 20 calories; the fat-free version has 10.



Some people might want to read this. My opinion on this article is that there are a lot of genetics involved. In other words ectomorphic people might be able to gain muscle but have a hard time gaining fat weight thereby some people look at them and consider them "fit". Endomorphic are usually the heavyset type and have a hard time losing weight while Mesomorphic can go both ways fat or slim but maintain more muscle mass. As with anything else I think Metabolism plays a huge factor in ectomorphics. sorry if this offends anyone...

 

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/7-laws-leanness

 

 



Eh I'll stick to my skim milk thank you very much. I drink one 8 oz. cup a day. I was raised on Whole and 2% so Skim is different but I still love it. My daughters are very young and I have them on 2% they will also be raised on skim.



Can't believe Silk soy milk wasn't mentioned. I swear by that stuff now. And it's helped my digestion a lot.



I like almond milk.  Until I started using it I had difficulty getting enough calcium in my diet.  Silk has a dark chocolate product that has 45% of your daily allowance in 8oz.  Typically,  I drink 8oz in the morning and 8oz in the evening when I am low on calcium.  I prefer Blue Diamond on cereal because it has less calories and is the closest thing I've found to dairy cow's milk.  Drinking almond milk straight does takes a little getting used to.  



When they mention milk alternatives, no one ever mentions Lactose free milk, there is not good information for this, does anyone have any info on this milk.  Good or bad?



I was off milk for a while, except for half-n-half in my coffee.  Recently I have started consuming more of it in cereals.  I don't have dairy issues, so I just go in waves of preference. 

But I have to give a huge thumbs up to coconut water.  I know the article mentioned coconut milk (which is creamier) but coconut water is so good for hydration.  I love vita-coco, original, and the ones with added fruit.  Also the Zico chocolate coconut water.  It is an excellent sweet treat after a long sweaty day out in the field.  And it tastes like Yoohoo.  Just sayin....



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