Humans theoretically started drinking milk around 8,000 BCE in what is now known as Turkey – shortly after milk came cheese, yoghurt and butter due to the fact they didn’t have refrigeration. We also began to drink other animals’ milk, particularly during famine, and through to today, some people continue to have goat, sheep and camel milk which are also considered ‘dairy’.
Some people choose not to have dairy milk for ethical reasons or because they have trouble digesting milk – either due to the proteins (casein and whey) or, more commonly, the lactose – the sugar in milk, as many of us do not produce lactase, the enzyme to break it down.
From here, a range of milk alternatives has evolved and offers people a wider variety so that they can find what works best for them. These are not considered to be ‘dairy’ as they are plant-based. Here are the most common ones we see today:
- Oat Milk
- Soy milk
- Nut milk – almond, macadamia, cashew, hazelnut
- Coconut milk
- Rice milk
- Hemp milk
Plant-based milk range varies among brands in their protein, carbohydrate and fat content and quality, so you will need to factor this in when you are looking to balance your macronutrients. Generally speaking, they will tend to have less protein and fat than dairy milk and different levels of vitamins and minerals. They also can work differently in recipes, so keep that in mind!
The main thing to consider is choosing brands with a higher percentage of the main ‘milk’ ingredient you are looking for, as some can be heavily diluted and contain sugars and several additives such as vegetable oils and gums. For example, some almond milk can be as low as 3% almond, more of an expensive water than milk!
Of course – the best way to get high-quality plant-based milk is to make it yourself, this way you can get a higher amount of the main ingredient and also control any extra ingredients that you may like to add to give it extra flavour, texture and nutrition.
Whether dairy or plant-based … How do you know whether the milk you are drinking is right for you? Take notice of how you feel after you drink it – Do you feel satiated, energised and ready to go? If not, you may need to change the type of milk, the brand, or add something else into your meal or smoothie to balance your macronutrient spread to achieve your nutritional goals.
SWEET FRUITY PORRIDGE
You can use any milk of your choice in this winter warming recipe …
- ½ cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of milk
- ¼ cup of dried fruit chopped into small pieces – apricots, dates and sultanas work well! ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 tsp of nut butter or dairy butter
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of vanilla
- Put all ingredients in a saucepan and cook on low to perfection