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Can you milk an almond?

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.

Yes. Yes, you can. You can also milk a coconut, a soybean, a cashew and, apparently, a potato. Let's take a deep dive together into the world of plant-based milks.


Milk by any other name

Dairy products are often the last to go when transitioning to a plant-based diet. This may be due, in part, to the fact that up until very recently, dairy substitute products were…how shall I put this kindly? Crap. But not anymore! You lucky soon-to-be-plant-based eaters can now choose from shelves filled with plant-based milk options, racks of plant-based cheeses and so many non-dairy versions of sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese and butter that the world of vegan dairy has gone from “take it or leave it” to “OMG, I’ll need a full year to sample all of this deliciousness!”

"Today's grocery shelves are literally overflowing with plant-based milk options."

In this blog we are going to take a deep dive into the Olympic-sized pool of plant-based fluid milk options. Gone are the days of just soy milk and almond milk. But with all this choice can come some confusion. I have personally sampled many of the most readily available plant-based milks out there and will report here on their taste profiles and best uses. And, while I’ll only be talking about the most popular milks in their pure form, there are many blended versions out there, too, like Almond/Coconut milk or Almond/Cashew milk, and more varieties than I could ever cover in one post. (Future posts will tackle vegan cheese and other dairy substitutes.)

They’ve got what now???

I started this post thinking that, except for the more rare and exotic ones, I’ve tried pretty much all the plant-based milks out there. However, a quick trip to my local supermarket showed me just how wrong I was! As a creature of habit, I typically buy cashew milk for my coffee, almond milk for my cereal and baking, and coconut milk for cooking and, sometimes, baking. Every once in a while, I’ll venture out to try something new like pistachio milk (YUM!), but I had no idea that the already comically overflowing plant-based milk shelves were exploding with even more options like buckwheat milk, flax milk and (seriously) potato milk, and flavours like Berry Field Shake and Chocolate Banana made with oat milk. I’m going to have to sit down for minute…


The plants that started it all

Back in the day, readily available plant-based milk options were…soy. Then came almond. And then came an avalanche of other varieties from oat to rice and flavour options including chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Since soy milk and almond milk were the OM (original milks), let’s take a closer look at them.

Soy milk

The granddaddy of them all. It’s hard to believe that not so long ago, if you didn’t want to consume dairy, soy was your only readily available option. And even though it’s “old school”, it’s still a great staple. Soy milk has a mild, creamy flavour that makes it good for cooking, baking, and drinking, and its low sugar*, low fat and high protein nutritional profile makes it a choice you can feel good about, too.

Almond milk

This is where things first started to get fun. Our mainstay of the nut milks, almond introduced us to so many options by varying the level of sugar and adding flavours like vanilla and chocolate. On its own, almond is the hardest working of the plant-based milks because its neutral, slightly nutty flavour and thin consistency lends itself to just about any use from pouring straight into cereal, to making smoothies, baking, and cooking.


Fan favourites

Oat milk

This one came onto the field of plant-based milks like a wrecking ball! Although it’s been around, lurking in the dusty corners of health food stores since the 1960’s, it wasn’t until the late 2010’s that everyone started talking about oat milk. It seems like overnight it became the darling of the plant-based milks! By offering a creamy, easy-to-froth-for-your-“ccino”-beverages, oat milk is a great all-around choice for a versatile milk substitute.


Cashew milk

My personal favourite for coffee, cashew milk has the distinctive sweet, nutty flavour of…well…cashews! It’s thicker than almond or oat so it’s probably not one for drinking straight from a glass. It comes in a variety of sugar levels so make sure you check that out!


Hemp milk

Offering a vegan source of Omega-3, hemp milk has a distinctive, slightly nutty flavour that some love, and some…not so much.

Coconut milk

A tetra box of coconut milk is always in my house. It has the perfect thick consistency and slightly sweet flavour that lends itself to curries, sauces and desserts like rice pudding and eggless custards.


Make nondairy milk at home!

So far, we've only covered readily-available-from-your-grocery-store plant-based milks. This is because I am, at my very core, lazy. But, if you want to make your own homemade plant-based milk, it's not really all that hard to do. You can easily make oat milk, almond milk and cashew milk with just a few simple ingredients.

Oh...sure, but what about dill?

Every once in a while I come across a nutrition fact that makes me check the source to make sure it's not The Onion or some other publication of satire. This is one of those facts. Dill...that fragrant green weed of pickle fame, is a powerhouse of calcium! Check this out!

And...in conclusion...

This post could go on and on. I haven’t even touched on rice, macadamia, walnut, pea, hazelnut, chickpea, plus, plus, plus and the seemingly endless mashups and flavours of all of these. What it eventually comes down to is personal taste. Start with the more popular varieties of plant-based milk (they’re popular for a reason!) and then, if you are feeling adventurous, sample some of the more boutique varieties until you have curated your very own plant-based milk collection! And don't forget pickles!!!


* Flavoured varieties of all plant-based milks are almost always higher in sugar, and often in fat, than their unflavoured versions.


I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey!


Next issue: Vegan on a budget...any budget!


Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.


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