Zero waste plant milks are starting to become more common. In recent years, plant milks have become increasingly popular, but of course on an environmental point, most have a disadvantage in that they are packed in Tetrapak cartons (these sometimes be recycled, but they are not zero waste). As opposed to dairy milk, which can be delivered in glass bottles to your home. Also ensure your coconut milk is monkey-friendly. Also read why oat milk is better than most milks!
Avoid unpasteurised milks for pregnancy, children and elderly. Leave ice packs in a safe place (away from children and pets) if you are out, and they can still deliver. Don’t feed these plants milks to pets.
Cats actually shouldn’t lap saucers of milk as most are lactose-intolerant. But these milks often contain pet-toxic ingredients like soy or nuts (macadamia nuts in particular are very toxic to pets).
Plant milk is not just kinder to animals and the planet, but it’s also cholesterol-free. These milks are also wholesome and better quality (their nut milk has over 10 times the nuts of the average store-bought brand). These thick and creamy milks are ideal for smoothies, coffee and cereal, and made with a blend of oats or almonds/cashews with vanilla bean and a touch of salt.
Moopops are reusable silicone lids to keep your milk fresh. Designed to fit a one pint glass bottle, the set includes 3 pastel or rainbow colours and are safe in the fridge or dishwasher. Milk bottles are used 20 to 50 times before they get recycled, and the foil tops don’t keep milk fresh and are pretty pointless. Also ideal for juice in glass bottles.
You may think ‘why not drink milk?’ There are dairy farms that don’t shoot baby cows like Ahimsa, but they are not that common. In most cases, the baby male calves are shot at birth as they produce no income or are sent to make veal (baby calves are not given iron, to make the meat white).
Farmers may also wish to know of a wonderful idea to promote local oat milk (this basically gives help for you to start farming profitable oats for milk, which is then sold to local people – and remaining animals live out their lives in peace, akin to a farm sanctuary).
Do We Need Dairy Milk?
Plant milks are free from dairy, but it does not mean they are not as nutritious. Most commercial brands of plant milk are fortified with calcium and other nutrients, and in fact, cultures that drink little dairy have stronger bones. This is because calcium from other sources (like dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes) have better-absorbed calcium, and combined with regular weight-bearing exercise, builds strong bones.
There are also concerns that factory-farmed dairy milk is rich in hormones which is linked to medical issues from asthma to some hormonal cancers. Modern nutrition knowledge does not tally with government advice (often biased, due to pressure from industry).
Drinking dairy milk can acidify the blood (which releases calcium from the bones to neutralise the PH). That’s why Asian women who walk a lot but don’t drink dairy, have stronger bones that Scandinavian and other western women who do little exercise, but guzzle down pints of milk. Check medication before eating lots of dark leafy greens, as some heart medications say not to take too much, as it may affect your dose, due to vitamin K.
There are many types of plant milk, but none should be used for baby formula or weaning. See the post on baby food for more on suitable milks for youngsters and the launch of a doctor-approved toddler formula (with plans for an infant formula).
The other controversy with soy milk is whether it’s safe to consume in large quantities for people with or at risk of hormonal cancers. Cleveland Clinic has a good fact sheet on this. Erin Roesch MD says that natural soy is not a high ranker for contributors to breast cancer (despite containing isoflavones that are molecules similar to the oestrogen hormone). They don’t have the same preference for estrogen receptor binding, although she does caution against .
The main risks for breast cancer are obesity, smoking, lifestyle and genetics. Try to avoid foods with isoflavone extracts, and still base your main diet around fresh foods, rather than living on soy foods
Type of Plant Milk
- Soymilk is rich and creamy, and popular for all-round use. But ensure it is from rainforest-friendly sources, as badly-sourced is as bad as rainforest beef.
- Rice milk is quite watery, but is good on cereals. It’s more allergy-friendly but not as creamy.
- Oat milk is much creamier, and often used by coffee shops to make ‘vegan cappuccinos’.
- Pea milk is very high in protein.
- Hemp milk is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and has a nutty taste.
- Almond milk is popular, though it can curdle. Choose organic brands to avoid ‘migratory beekeeping’ (where farmers let bees starve after the harvest, small organic farmers tend not to do this, this industrial farming is more commonplace in the US). Cashew milk is more ‘buttery’.
- Coconut milk is popular too these days. It has saturated fat, but not enough to do harm to most people. This has a strong taste, so don’t buy if you don’t like coconuts! Biona is a good brand.
The book The New Milks is useful. As well as a rundown on the different types of milks and recipes, it has charts to let you know which milk is best for which purpose (ideal say for cafes and hotels). This book will tell you the best plant milk for coffee, creamy mashed potatoes or baking the best biscuits.
Make Your Own Plant Milk
This organic cotton oat/nut milk bag is perfect to make your own homemade plant milks. Ideal to reduce the waste from carton-bought milks, you can also use it to make homemade juice (sieve from blended juice) and use as a coffee maker, or even to make your own vegan cheese. Packed in a brown cardboard envelope, the paper coin design with cotton string lets you open and close the envelope repeatedly. Rinse the bag after use after soaking in warm soapy water, then hang to dry. T
MioMat can also be used as a blender. Just add your favourite nuts, seeds and cereals, and add with water to turn into creamy plant-based milk. You can also use this machine to make smoothies and baby purees in a few minutes, with a self-cleaning program for easy care. This machine has a unique grinding cylinder that creates a vortex so ingredients blend easier. This means fewer leftovers and a creamier milk. You can even heat ingredients to exact degrees, and the heating base allows you to also add programs to make soup and porridge.
Pea milk is a surprisingly popular milk, that is very high in protein. It’s rich and thick and creamy, yet low in fat. Pea milk is made from split yellow peas (the same kind used for split pea soup) often with other ingredients. The peas are ground into a flour, then the protein is separated and added to water with natural sweetener. The reason it’s so popular is that it tastes more like dairy milk, than most other kinds of plant milk.
Homemade Pea Milk (So Vegan) is a high protein milk that lasts for a few days in the fridge, in an airtight container. It’s made with vegetable oil to prevent the milk from separating.
Cashew milk is one of the most tasty plant milks, be sure to find organic and locally grown nuts from sustainable suppliers that do not use pesticides or migratory beekeeping. Cashew milk is rich and sweet, and much creamier than many other milks, due to the natural buttery taste of cashews (which are often use soaked to replace the filling for vegan cheesecakes).
Homemade Cashew Milk (So Vegan) is made with buttery cashews and water, with vanilla and agave to sweeten, along with a pinch of salt. This milk needs no straining as cashew milk does not have pulp, and the milk is ideal to use in tea and coffee, or for any cooking needs. It’s often used also to make vegan ice-cream. And as it’s from nuts, it’s also high in protein and calcium. You can sweeten cashew milk with maple syrup or dates, or even turn it into chocolate milk with cocoa and vanilla.
Black Sesame Cashew Milk (Full of Plants) is a toasted nutty milk that is popular in China, Vietnam and Japan. Ideal chilled or warm, it’s also very good for you, packed with iron and vitamin D, and said to keep you young!
Popped Red Rice Milk (Full of Plants) is also super-nutty, and made with popped red brown rice. A bit like popcorn in liquid form, it’s made with cooked white rice, with a sweet toasted taste.
These plant-based milks (Planted and Picked) are ideal to make, if you don’t live near stores that sell good plant milks, or fancy going homemade.
2 Ingredient Hazelnut Milk is packed with protein and calcium.
Books to Make Your Own Plant Milks
Homemade Vegan Cheese, Yoghurt & Milk is a beautiful book by an award-winning European recipe blogger. Learn how to make your own milks and other dairy foods like butter, yoghrt and cheese, almond with almond creme fraiche and chickpea tofu.
Vegan Dairy shows you how to make your own fresh plant milk and artisan cheese, cream and yoghurt. Many recipes are easy to make, with ingredients sourced from your own local grocery. Find recipes for more unusual milks like coconut kefir, pistachio and spirulina (not for people on blood thinners, bleeding disorders or PKU).
The Vegan Dairy shows how to make every kind of nut, bean, soy and cerael milk along with vegan butters, cheeses, creams and yoghurts. Many are fermented with additional gut health benefits (like coconut kefir). Author Catherine Atkinson is an award-winning writer and professional food stylist and home economist.
Plant Milk Power shows how to make your own milks at home. The 50 recipes take you through whizzing up nut, seed, oat, coconut, hemp and tiger nut milks, which are naturally flavoured with fruits, spices or cocoa. Recipes by Dr Aparna Prinja and Shital Shah (a nutritionist and caterer do) include Turkish Delight and Pistachio Cardamom Rose milk.
Zero Waste Milk Delivery
Unlike dairy milk (which has been delivered in glass bottles for years), most plant milks in shops are sold in Tetrapak, which can be recycled, but is not very eco-friendly. So unless you make your own plant milk, it’s good if you live nearby to support the ‘new milkmen’, who deliver in glass bottles, to your door (they are also sold in good shops).
ReRooted (Devon) delivers oat, almond and coconut milk in glass bottles. This brand was founded by a former Man United footballer, who gave it all up to open England’s first zero waste shop.
Bristol’s New Milk offers a similar service. You can order plant-based milk in bottles from Mlkman (London and other cities), Not-Milks (London) and Oato (northwest).
Milk 2.0 (New Zealand) is an innovative company that delivers premium plant-based milks to doorsteps across Aucland, then collects the glass bottles, caps, insulation bags and icepacks, to be used again. Just sign up to a weekly subscription to get oat milk delivered to your door.Choose your flavour (pure and/or Choco) and pick a bottle quantity. The milk is delivered weekly in Frodoo chilly bags to stay nice and cold, for when you return home. Then just leave the empty bottles and bags out for pick-up the next week. You’re free to cancel your subscription any time (after the first two deliveries) so there’s no pressure to try signing up. The milk lasts up to 6 days, as long as it’s kept in the fridge.