Aside from the fact that I’m lactose intolerant, I’ve learned that dairy products are high in saturated fat and cause inflammation in the body. Cow milk and its derivative products can also raise your LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and potentially put you at risk for heart disease. As you can imagine, these facts are very distressing to me as I really enjoy a nice cold, creamy glass of milk with my sugar-free chocolate chip cookies or an occasional bit of soft cheese with fruit.
As is my wont, I set out on a quest to a find non-dairy alternative milk that tastes just as good as cow’s milk if not better. I’ve tried many brands over the years and tested the quality of non-dairy alternative milks in many cooking applications including for smoothies, puddings, cookies and hot chocolate.
If you’re vegan, lactose intolerant or simply looking to reduce inflammation in your body, review this list of non-dairy milk alternatives for suitable substitutes. Follow along below for my review of some of the best non-dairy alternative milk brands available today.
Ripple Pea Protein Milk
I was very happy to discover Ripple Pea Protein Milk. One very attractive quality is that is low in carbohydrates which fits in very well with my Keto WOE. Ripple non-dairy milk is vegan, soy-free, nut-free, gmo-free and gluten-free. This makes it an ideal dairy milk alternative for people living with various allergies and intolerances.
Ripple pea protein milk is nutritionally superior to other milks including cow, almond, soy and nut milks. It is also low in calories, cholesterol-free, and has 50% more calcium. The Ripple brand also has an excellent half&half that lightens your coffee while retaining the creaminess you expect from regular dairy half&half creamers.
- Thick, creamy consistency makes it a good choice for making hot chocolate or turmeric tea
- 8 times more protein than found in conventional almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk
- Less sugar than cow milk with 50% more calcium
- Works as great replacement for recipes calling for dairy milk
- Only available in 3 flavors – plain, chocolate and vanilla
- Some may find the flavor (original formula) bland but I like it’s neutral taste. It’s a perfect canvas for adding layers of flavor.
Califia Farm Plant Milks
Califia Farms is my second favorite brand for non-dairy alternative milks. They have a large variety of plant milks and creamers that can suit any lifestyle including blended almond milk (various flavors), coconut milk, and cashew milk.
Califia plant milks are creamy in consistency and the variety in blends means the possibilities are limitless for flavors, texture and consistency. They also have an unsweetened version for purists who are seeking a low carb, sugar free, dairy milk alternative.
Califia Farms is perfect for vegans or anyone looking to reduce their dairy intake.
- Variety of flavored almond milks
- Low calorie (unsweetened versions)
- Creamy consistency
- 50% more calcium than dairy milk
- Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan and kosher
- Low in protein per 8 oz. compared to other brands
- Some flavors leave a slight after-taste
Silk Plant Milks
Silk was one of the first brands to come out with plant-based milks, first starting out in the soy milk market. Silk enjoyed popularity during what I call the soy boom era. Veganism was just becoming popular and people were looking for alternatives to dairy-based milks.
As soy’s popularity waned, Silk jumped onto the almond milk bandwagon. Today they have several varieties and flavors of almond-based and other plant milks. Silk’s non-dairy alternative milks include: oat milk, coconut milk and cashew milk. The brand also carries several creamers and yogurt alternatives.
I’d only choose Silk brand products if I didn’t have access to Ripple or Cailfia. The consistency of their milks leaves a lot to be desired. Some are not as creamy or substantive as the other named brands whereas others are too thick and/or sweet. Moreover, the flavor is at best bland when compared with Ripple or Califia.
- Good brand for dairy milk alternative with a nice variety of types and flavors
- High protein in some products (soy milk and protein nut milk)
- Silk has “spoon friendly” products including an assortment of dairy-free yogurt alternatives
- Weak flavor profiles
- Higher in calories compared to other brands (depending on flavor and type)
- Has slightly more sugar than other brands
Homemade Coconut Almond Milk
I’ve saved my personal favorite and in my opinion, the best plant-based dairy alternative, for last. Whenever I have time, I make this simple coconut almond milk that hits all the sweet spots. It’s rich, creamy, thick and you can use it in almost any application as you would with dairy milk.
I love this particular non-dairy plant milk recipe for its simplicity as well as the considerable nutrition it provides. Consisting only of water, almonds, unsweetened coconut flakes and vanilla extract it’s truly an extraordinarily tasty product. It’s delicious and so full of good fats that you can use it to make dairy-free ice-cream!
In my opinion the best part of making your own vegan, dairy-free milk is that it doesn’t contain any extraneous ingredients like carageenan, guar gum, preservatives and other chemicals that may have a negative impact on your body. You can also flavor it with cocoa powder for a chocolate version and sweeten with dates, sugar, honey or a sugar substitute.
- Delicious, thick and creamy – you can dilute to personal preference
- 4 grams protein per serving
- High in fiber and low in sugar
- This plant milk is relatively high calorie with about 143 calories per 4 oz serving.
- Almond and coconut solids can separate out from the liquid after some time. Simply shake bottle or container before pouring.
- Has some saturated fat (6 g per serving). The silver lining is that the saturated fat is from a plant source as opposed to animal-based.
Non Dairy Milk Alternatives – Are They Worth It?
There are many brands to choose from when it comes to non-dairy milk alternatives. The ones I’ve reviewed in this post are some of the brands that I’ve personally used. Many of them have the creaminess and slight sweetness that you find in whole dairy milk. You can use them in cereal, smoothies and recipes calling for milk.
Even though many vegan milks are thick and creamy, they do not contain the same fat profile as cow milk so they are not quite as rich as cow’s milk. This means that you won’t get the same mouth feel and creaminess found in dairy milk. For example, if you were to compare a cup of coffee lightened with dairy milk and one with plant-based milk you’d find the one with dairy milk to be more pleasant to drink.
Even with this one advantage in dairy milk, in my opinion it’s totally worth it to give plant-based milk alternatives a try. You get more protein, fewer calories, no cholesterol and best of all no gastric distress!
Let me know in the comments which is your favorite non-dairy alternative milk.