Best Alternatives to Milk

Alternatives to cow’s milk are sweeping into coffee shops and supermarket shelves with more and more success in recent years. Whether you are vegan, trying to cut down your dairy intake ,or curious about small sustainable swaps you can make in your everyday life, milk alternatives might be of interest to you. The One Edit is on hand to guide you through some of the burning questions around alternatives to milk. Read on to discover which milk alternative could become your new favourite!

Table of Contents:

  • What is Alternative Milk?
  • What is Alt Milk?
  • How Are Milk Alternatives Made?
  • 3 Benefits of Milk Alternatives
  • Which is the Best Milk Alternative For You?

What is Alternative Milk?

‘Milk alternatives’ or ‘Alternative Milk’ are terms used to refer to any cow’s milk substitute. Rather than coming from dairy farms, alternative milks tend to be plant based.

Milk alternatives aren’t a new concept, having been used in the past by people with allergies and dietary restrictions. However, in recent years milk alternatives have started to reach more widespread popularity as they are considered a healthy and sustainable substitute for mainstream cow’s milk. It’s even thought that 1 in 3 Britons now drink alternative milks

What is Alt Milk?

You may have noticed the phrase ‘Alt Milk’ popping up on menus or ingredients lists in recent months. Alt Milk is simply an abbreviation of alternative milks. Due to a decision passed by the EU, purely plant based products cannot be marketed as milk which is why you might see ‘alt milk’ or deliberate misspellings such as ‘mylk’ and ‘m*lk’ frequently being used. 

How Are Milk Alternatives Made?

Although there is a wide range of milk alternatives available, most of them are produced through similar processes. Most alternative milks are made by soaking the main ingredient (usually a nut, legume or grain) in water for several hours, before blending into a puree. This puree is then filtered to separate any lumps from the liquid. The liquid is then boiled to sterilise it and lastly flavouring might be added. Another method of making alternative milks is to grind the main ingredient into a paste or dry powder before water is added. 

3 Benefits of Milk Alternatives

Alternative milks are gaining popularity as awareness of their many benefits grows. Here are three of the top reasons why alternative milks may be seen as superior:

  1. Alternative milks are considered to be more sustainable – Milk is a dietary staple that most people would struggle to stop using. However, dairy products and their manufacture can have a significant impact on the environment. On average, alternative milks produce 70% less greenhouse gas emissions compared with cow’s milk. It is also thought that cow’s milk produces more waste and uses up more water than alt milks. For conscious consumers, alternative milks are perceived as a more sustainable option. 
  2. Alternative milks are potentially healthier – The essential sodium and potassium which humans acquire from cow’s milk are also present in plant based milk alternatives. However, according to UCLA Health, plant based alternatives are between 37% to 75% lower in unhealthy fats than cow’s milk. There are also ongoing investigations into how much of the cow’s hormones make their way into the milk. It is thought that ingesting additional oestrogen through cow’s milk could increase the risk of breast, uterine and prostate cancers. Alternative milks could be considered to have the health benefits of conventional milk without the risks. 
  3. Alternative milks are cruelty free – There is no risk of animal cruelty with alternative milks since they are made from plants. Although not universal, sometimes dairy cows can be separated from calves, and restricted from grazing and moving around. Alternative milks are considered cruelty-free because they are free from these practices. 
Fresh white alternative milk is poured into half a cracked coconut.

Which is the Best Milk Alternative For You?

The best milk alternative can depend on personal preference. There are plenty to choose from all with slightly varying qualities. Looking at the environmental impact, health benefits, flavour and more will help us figure out which the best milk alternatives are. Next time you are adding a splash of milk to your morning cup, no matter the type of coffee, consider one of these milk alternatives:

  1. Soy Milk
  2. Pea Milk
  3. Oat Milk
  4. Almond Milk
  5. Cashew Milk
  6. Coconut Milk
  7. Camel Milk

1. Soy Milk 

Soy milk is one of the longest running alternative milks and is thought to have the closest nutritional resemblance to cows’ milk. 

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
High in protein (8g/cup).
Filled with antioxidants.
Filled with fibre.
Soy is one of the eight common allergens that people may be intolerant or sensitive to.Naturally quite bitter so often is sweetened. Works well in savoury dishes.

 One of our favourites is Rude Health’s Soy Drink which is sweetened with organic rice syrup instead of sugar. Rude Health also donates 5% of their profits to charities such as Chefs in Schools and Age UK.

2. Pea Milk

Pea milk is relatively new to the table but that doesn’t mean it should be discounted as one of the best milk alternatives.

 StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour  
High in protein (8g/cup).
Contains an omega-3 fatty acid that’s linked to immunity, heart health, and cognition. 
Sustainable water usage as peas are grown in areas which receive lots of rain.
Doesn’t contain ‘complete proteins’ which means it is missing the amino acids we can’t create but need to survive.Creamy and thick with an earthy flavour.  

If you are looking for a more environmentally friendly option that has a similar mouth feel to dairy milk, pea milk would be good to try. One of our favourite pea milk brands is Ripple who explain that drinking their milk alternative has a positive ripple effect on the planet. 

3. Oat Milk

Oat milk was the most popular alternative milk bought in the UK in 2020. It is also one of the best milk alternatives for not curdling when added to hot coffee or tea.

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
Eco-conscious option (growing oats requires 1/6th of the water that almonds need).
High in healthy fibre.
Keeps you fuller for longer.
Middling in proteins (3.5g/cup).Sweet, thick and creamy with a porridge-like flavour.

 Oatly is a leading oat milk brand and for good reason. They are committed to helping the planet and are involved in multiple initiatives to improve the sustainability of the food industry. We particularly love their oat ice cream line. 

4. Almond Milk

 It is believed that almond milk was first brewed in the 1200s in the Middle East as it didn’t spoil as quickly in the heat as cow’s milk. Nowadays it is one of the best milk alternatives if you are looking for a healthy but sweet option.

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
Low in calories so works well for a healthy milk swap.
Rich source of vitamin E which is good for heart health.
Low in protein (2g/cup).
Can be produced using an unsustainable amount of water.
Almost identical to Cashew Milk.
Light and sweet.
Works well in baking and milky coffees. 

One important thing to consider before purchasing almond milk is that not all brands are good for the environment. Many almonds are grown in heavy drought areas, and they require a vast amount of water to grow. If you do purchase almond milk, it’s essential to double check where it comes from. Our recommended brand is Plenish who are a B-Corp and make delicious almond milk.

A light blue mug with cloud design is filled with a cappuccino made with milk alternatives on a table near a bunch of flowers.

5. Cashew Milk

Cashew milk is often considered a more eco-conscious version of almond milk. Whilst the flavour is almost identical, cashew nuts can be grown in areas where water isn’t scarce whilst almonds usually can’t. This means cashews are less of an unsustainable drain on natural resources.

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
Full of zinc, copper & magnesium which support a healthy immune system.
Copper is also a key component of healthy skincare.
Rich in antioxidants which support eye health. 
Middling in proteins (3g/cup).
Problems with working conditions for cashew pickers sometimes being unethical.
Almost identical to Almond Milk.
Light and sweet.
Works well in baking and milky coffees.

However, if you do opt for cashew milk, we strongly urge you to check the company’s labour policies. A high percentage of cashews are picked in India and Vietnam under harsh working conditions and even in labour camps. If a company is not transparent about where their cashews come from, this is usually not a good sign. We recommend Pacific Food’s Cashew Milk which is made with Fair Trade CertifiedTM cashews.

6. Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is one of the best milk alternatives to try if you want your milk to add a little extra flavour.

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
Packed with vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, and vitamins B, C and E.
Coconut trees are considered very environmentally friendly as the whole plant can be used. 
High in unhealthy fats (1 cup can contain up to 20% of your daily recommended saturated fat intake).Silky with classically fresh coconutty taste.
Refreshing and works well if you want your milk to add flavour.

The tropical taste is inescapable so if you’re a fan of piña coladas or Bounty chocolate bars, this is the milk for you! Our top pick is Alpro’s Coconut Original Chilled Drink which is made with no added sugar.

7. Camel Milk

Although camel milk is not plant based, it is still one of the best cow’s milk alternatives. Camel’s aren’t ruminant animals like cows which means they don’t contribute such high amounts of methane to the earth’s atmosphere.

StrengthsWeaknessesFlavour
High in calcium.
High in protein (6g/cup).
Rich in Lactoferrin which is great for gut health.
Low in unhealthy fats.
Not vegan.
Potentially high in environmentally friendly air miles depending on brand.
Smooth and refreshing with an ever so slightly salty taste.
Very similar to cow’s milk.

At the moment, camel farming is considered to have a low environmental impact however there are fears that if camel farming intensifies, unsustainable practices might emerge. For some camel friendly milk, why not try Tribal Milk’s Original Camel Milk or even treat yourself to their Cold Brew Camel Vanilla Latte?

Alternative Milks for the Future

The next time you are brewing your morning ethical coffee, why not add a splash of alt milk? From health benefits for you, to eco benefits for the planet, making the simple swap to alternative milks is an easy way to have a positive impact. If you’re interested in learning more about how your everyday choices can affect the environment, have a look at these eco-bloggers. Wherever you are in your sustainable journey, The One Edit is here to help. 

Alcohol-Free Beer: How It’s Made & Brands to Try

Whatever your tipple, alcohol free beer is a great alternative to your regular drink of choice this summer. Discover the world of alcohol free beers, whether they’re healthy, and how they’re made. Find out the best alcohol-free and low alcohol beers to try this year as you relax in the sunshine.  

What You’ll Learn:

3 Sustainable Alcohol Free Beer Brands to Try

When you’re looking for an alcohol free beer to try, why not select from our top picks of breweries that consider the planet too. 

Toast Ale 

Enjoy a pint responsibly with Toast, a UK based brewing company that wants you to raise a toast and save the world. They use surplus bread to replace barley in their beers, which saves land, water, and energy. 

They give their profit to charity, they’re funding systemic changes across the world. Their low alcoholic beer is 0.5% ABV with a taste of citrus, spice, and hoppiness. 

Drop Bear Beer Co. 

Put down your usual lager and pick up a low-alcohol beer crafted in the UK by Drop Bear Beer Co. Officially launched in 2019, they’re on a mission to offset their emotions they can’t eliminate, and are certified Carbon Neutral. 

All their 0.5% ABV beers are vegan, low calorie, and gluten-free. With four unique brews to try, you can even get a subscription to this B-Corp and have low-alcohol beer delivered to your door!  

Lucky Saint

You may have already taken a long rewarding sip from Lucky Saint, and for good reason! This delicious low-alcohol beer (0.5% ABV) is brewed using centuries-old techniques, and unfiltered to allow for exceptional flavour without the alcohol. 

Having achieved their B-Corp status, they’re committed to continuous improvement, transparency and accountability throughout their business. You can enjoy a bottle, a refreshing pint on draught, or even visit their very own pub in Marylebone, London.

Is Alcohol Free Beer Healthy?

The answer isn’t yes or no. Alcohol-free beer, and low alcohol beer are great options if you often find yourself reaching for an alcoholic beverage at the end of the day. We know alcohol can harm your health, and even low amounts on a regular basis aren’t a great idea. Why not swap out your regular choice for an alcohol free beer? 

Whilst alcohol free beer does have the health benefit of no or low ABV. This means you can stay within recommended guidelines more easily, and means you can stay within the legal limit for driving more easily. In fact, one in four adults reached for low or alcohol-free beer in 2021

two hands holding glasses of beers over a white outdoor dining table

Despite this, alcohol free and low alcohol beers are not exactly healthy. While they may be better than a regular pint, they are still high in carbohydrates and should still be consumed in moderation. 

How is Alcohol Free Beer Made?

Alcohol free beer is made with very similar ingredients to your expected pint. Whilst each beer’s ingredients will vary slightly, these are the building blocks: water, grains, hops, and yeast  

Sugar from the grains allows the yeast to ferment, which is what creates the alcohol. Hops are where the signature flavour and smell comes from. 

The four methods of brewing alcohol-free beer are: 

  1. Controlled fermentation
  2. Dealcoholisation
  3. Dilution
  4. Stimulated fermentation

1. Controlled Fermentation

This is the most common method to make alcohol free beers. This means making the beer as usual, but then stopping the fermentation before the usual level of alcohol is produced. That way, a low alcohol or non alcoholic beer is produced. 

2. Dealcoholisation

This process is removing alcohol from beer to reduce the ABV. This is commonly done by adding water or steam and boiling the liquid. The alcoholic vapour is then collected and sent away, leaving an alcohol free or low alcohol beer.  

a copper alcohol brewing apparatus

3. Dilution

Diluting means adding water to the beer to reduce the proportion of alcohol content. Depending on how much alcohol is in the first batch, the amount of water used to dilute differs. The result? A beer alternative with a lower ABV. 

4. Simulated Fermentation

Another way to create an alcohol free beer is to stop the sugars and yeast fermenting altogether. Enzymes and other ingredients may be added to recreate the similar effect, without the fermentation.  

a lit up pub garden sign saying "beer"

What Counts as Alcohol Free Beer?

Laws for the ABV values of regular and alcohol free beer are not the same across the world. 

In the UK:

  • Low alcohol beer must be at 1.2% ABV. 
  • “Alcohol free” means 0.05% or less
  • Some breweries remove the alcohol from their beer after fermentation, and this will be labelled “de-alcoholised” if it’s up to 0.5%.  

Be Better for the Planet

At The On Edit, we’re passionate about empowering people to make better choices through the products they buy. Whether you’re searching for vegan milk-alternativessustainable food boxes, or ethically-sourced coffee, we’re on hand to help. Join us as you explore the world of eco-friendly options, and see what you discover!