Plant-based beverages, lactose, and tasty alternatives


As options for allergen-friendly foods and drinks continue to become available, one option you might consider is the replacement of some of your favorite beverages with dairy-free drinks. Dairy-free alternatives can be considered better for our planet’s carbon footprint compared to animal milk and for some, these options prove to be healthier. Others may also be interested in soy-free versions of their favorite drinks or even antioxidant-rich plant-based beverages. In many cases, these drinks can be completely sourced from plants, without the need for artificial preservatives and sugary fillers.

There are many benefits that come from making the switch to healthier drinks, and in this article, we hope to guide you along as you discover new and delicious ways to stay hydrated.

The history of dairy and the introduction of lactose

Dairy has been a nutritious food source for societies around the world for thousands of years. According to scientists, there is evidence of dairy consumption by humans as early as 3000 BC. Today, dairy plays a huge part in how many cultures consume their meals, with milk, cream, butter, cheese, and yogurt being staples for many cultures. If you are not one of the people who experience adverse effects from consuming dairy products, then count yourself lucky! Around 70% of the world’s population is intolerant to dairy products.

Lactose, the sugar found in animal milk, plays a huge role in how people can digest these food and drinks. Lactase is produced by our bodies to break down lactose, and people from different parts of the world are unable to produce lactase to break down and digest dairy products. However, this does not exclude them from seeking more suitable options.

Advances in food and beverage manufacturing have enabled the production of lactose-free milk, which removes the lactose from animal milk, making it simpler to digest for individuals who are lactose intolerant. Furthermore, numerous beverages can be derived from a range of plants that naturally contain no lactose. These plant "milks" are high in nutrients and eliminate the need to get your beverage from animal sources. Fortunately, these dairy-free milks are far more acceptable for individuals who are allergic to dairy or who consciously prefer to reduce their consumption of animal products.

Dairy-free beverages: plants save the day

Soy milk has long been a popular choice for vegans, vegetarians, and those who like the flavor of plant-based milks! You may know soy milk to be one of the earlier plant-based milks to hit the public market. Today, soy milk is produced by pressing fresh soybeans to extract the constituents in water. Being high in protein, soy milk can easily be added to the kinds of foods you would normally consume using animal milk, including cereal, ice cream, smoothies, baked goods, and tea or coffee. The possibilities are endless! If you are allergic to soy, then there are various plant-based options to consider as well.

Nut milks have recently been making a place for themselves in local grocery stores. These drinks can be a tasty alternative to animal milk. Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and flax can be extracted and utilized to make a creamy, dairy-free beverage. It is important to note that like many kinds of foods, dairy-less beverages can still be highly processed and filled with artificial ingredients. Always study the ingredient panel and make educated selections to ensure that the plant-based milks you buy do not include additional sugar or artificial additions for your taste.

The lucrative advantages of oat milk

The humble oat is the source of this famous plant-based milk. The oat milk has a milder flavor than certain other types of plant-based milks. One disadvantage is that many companies add a lot of sugar to compensate for the extremely bland flavor of oat milk, so be sure you check for added sugar level. However, when combined with other dishes, the flavor does not overpower the other ingredients and has little effect on the overall flavor of the dish. Oat milk may also be a preferable alternative for persons who are allergic to dairy, soy, or nuts. Milk derived from oats may be a helpful and enjoyable option for many individuals due to its lower impact on individuals with allergies.

Conclusion: the different applications of plant-based milk

You would be surprised at how many plants can be used to make beverages. Coconut, rice, and hemp are all other options that you may be able to find at your local grocery store. All these beverages have different flavors and nutritional content, and you may find that one goes better with a certain meal than another. For example, someone might enjoy having oat milk over cereal, but you may find that coconut milk has a better flavor and application for making curries. Additionally, you might prefer nut milk due to their complimentary flavor in your coffee, while rice or hemp-based milk might be easily enjoyed alone or in baked goods.

We encourage you to try different kinds of dairy alternatives to see what kind of plant-based beverage works best for you.

For more interesting articles in the sphere of plant-based food and beverages, keep checking this space.

By Greyson Phillips | 29 August 2022

Greyson is located in the stunning Pacific Northwest and has recently graduated from Washington State University. He has thoroughly enjoyed his time working in plant research with fruit varieties like apples, cherries, and grapes. He hopes to one day have his own orchard so he might make contributions to plant science and work on the development of the ideal apple pie.