Choosing a plant based milk to replace dairy can be challenging. With so much choice, it is often hard to know where to start. From coconut milk to almond milk and every other type in between, we’ll help you figure out what each plant based milk tastes like and what foods and drinks they pair well with, including which ones we really think they don’t.
As you might expect, almond milk has a nutty taste and looks a little more yellowy-brown than other milks. It is one of our favourite tasting milks for coffees and breakfast, meals and drinks where you can imagine a nut pairing works well.
Almond milk is not the most eco friendly milk with a high amount of water needed to make a fairly small amount. However, it is still argued to be more environmentally friendly when compared to dairy milk so if it’s the only one you like, we recommend making the switch to it.
We recommend trying almond milk in:
- A nutty ‘cheese’ like sauce for pasta or cauliflower cheese
- Chai lattes or dairy-free coffee
- On cereal and in porridge
Top Tip: Avoid almond milk if you do not like nuts or nutty flavours.
As you might expect, oat milk tastes a lot like oats. It is ideal for breakfast smoothies and cereal. Oat milk is the most eco friendly plant based milk, with its impact on the planet being significantly lower than other vegan milks.
It is easy to make your own oat milk. Gaz Oakley shows us how.
We recommend trying oat milk in:
- A banana and strawberry breakfast smoothie
- With blueberries and nutmeg in your porridge
- Making dairy-free breakfast pancakes
Top Tip: Avoid oat milk in things that need a sweeter milk or if you have a sweet tooth.
Rice milk is another vegan milk option for those trying to go dairy-free. As you might expect, it is fairly flavourless, making it a good option for all kinds of dishes. We add it to curry sauces, like this homemade vegan sauce featured in our Vegan Chickpea Curry.
We recommend trying rice milk in:
- Your favourite coffee
- Vegan curries like this one
- Vegan baking
This is by far the sweetest dairy free milk, ideal for anyone with a sweet tooth who finds the other plant based milks too bland. Dairy milk is sweetened artificially, so coconut milk makes for an easy transition for many people. If you usually have sugar in your dairy drinks, like tea and coffee, try coconut milk without adding sugar first to see if it is sweet enough.
Coconut milk comes in many forms. Not only can you enjoy it as a drink, coconut milk can also be purchased for addition to curries and other cooking sauces.
We recommend trying coconut milk in:
- Vegan Banana Smoothies
- Vegan Hot Chocolate
- Coconut-based vegan curries
Top Tip: Avoid coconut milk if you do not like things too sweet. Did you know this can be a natural side affect of going vegan? As our taste buds become less accustomed to artificial sweeteners, they become more accustomed to natural food flavours, which tend to be more bitter.
Soya milk is the plainest flavour of plant based milk I’ve tried. Therefore, it was the easiest one for me to transition to from dairy milk. It is available sweetened and unsweetened, light and original.
I personally prefer Alpro Unsweetened Light Soya milk because it is less yellow in colour and less flavoured than other milks, which helped me to replace it in tea easily and not notice too much of a difference.
Soya products receive a lot of bad press surrounding health, but are arguably far healthier than dairy products. Take a look at some of the arguments for and against both and see what feels right for you. You can also try both milks and see how your body feels after consuming each one.
We recommend trying soya milk in:
- Tea and coffee
- Homemade white sauce for vegan lasagna
- Vegan Homemade Scones
Top Tip: Avoid the yellow soya milks in tea and coffee if you are looking for something that is visually similar to dairy milk.
Which Plant Based Milk Is Best?
Ditching dairy milk can be hard for those of us who have consumed it since birth. We can be so used to its taste and texture that alternatives seem ‘odd.’ But once you make the switch and leave dairy behind, you might find if you ever taste it again, the taste suddenly seems weird and the texture a bit too sticky in the back of your mouth. This has been my experience since leaving dairy milk behind.
Start your plant-based milk journey by trying plant based milks with different foods and drinks you like and don’t give up on one if it doesn’t work well in one dish or drink, because it might pair perfectly with something else you enjoy. Play a little.
When purchasing plant-based milks, always try to buy ethically and wherever possible avoid single use plastic. Choose cardboard cartons over plastic bottles and recycle what you cannot reuse packaging wise at home.
For even more eco brownie points, you can make your very own plant based milks from scratch to avoid the packaging completely and the travel miles. Gaz Oakley teaches us how in his informative book Vegan 100. Remember, you can even buy his book second hand, like an insanely cool eco goddess/god might do.
By making a purchase from one of the links on this page, a small portion of the money you spend goes to The Natural Essex Girl. Thank you for supporting my small business.
If you are new to eating vegan, you can subscribe to our email newsletter further down this page for vegan and plant-based recipes straight to your inbox.
We’d love to hear which plant based milks you try and love and which ones really don’t work well for you. Help introduce us to new brands we haven’t tried yet or even better, new recipes for using plant based milks in.
Leave us a comment below and we’ll tag you in an Instagram post when we try your idea.
Happy plant-based shopping fellow eco warriors!