The Best Dairy Free Milk?

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From sustainability, to taste, which dairy-free milk comes out on top?
Vegan milk sales have soared recently. From coffee shops stocking up on their oat milk, to beloved dairy drinkers switching to nutella-like hazelnut milk, the industry is experiencing more demand than ever. With the boom in sales, we've decided to weigh up which dairy-free milks are the tastiest, most affordable, and of course, most eco-friendly.

OAT MILK

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PRICE
You can buy the most popular brand 'Oatly' for £1.50 per 1L carton. We chose Oatly because of their eye-catching ad campaigns that have swept the nation over the past few months.
 
TASTE
Oat milk has a rather mild taste, with subtle tones of 'oatiness'. As it is a rather thick and creamy vegan milk, it's best used heated and foamed up in cappuccinos or lattes.
 
ECO-FRIENDLY
Oat milk emits fewer emissions and uses less water and land than dairy and rice milk. In fact, where dairy-milk emits 0.6kg of emissions for every 200ml glass, oat milk only emits 0.2kg.
 

SOYA 

PRICE
Many supermarkets now sell their own-brand version of soya milk. In fact, you can pick up a 1L carton for as little as £0.59p in Aldi. Our favourite brand of soya milk however will always be Alpro, which you can pick up for £1.40 per Litre.
TASTE
When veganism wasn't as well known, it was common for supermarkets to only stock a basic soya milk. At this time, soya milk was known to be bitter and watery. However, since the increase in demand, new flavours and recipe improvements have been hitting the shelves. Thanks to this, it's no longer a sacrifice to give up dairy, because Alpro's soya milk is delicious and creamy. In fact, you can now even buy it in chocolate and strawberry flavours.
 
ECO-FRIENDLY
Soya milk is similar to oat milk in its carbon footprint. It releases 0.2kg of emissions for every 200ml glass, 0.1 square metres of land usage (compared to 1.5 square meters for dairy milk), and 10 litres of water usage (compared to 120 litres for dairy).
 

ALMOND MILK 

PRICE
We're still backing Alpro for this one - with their creamy almond milk coming out at £1.70 per litre. You can still catch a bargain at Aldi though, priced at just £0.85p a litre.
 
TASTE
Deliciously creamy and thick milk made with pure roasted almonds. Almond milk is great over cereal, but it may sometimes curdle in hot drinks. We'd say oat milk is still best tasting in teas and coffees.
 
ECO-FRIENDLY
Almond milk has similar land usage to soy and oat milk, coming out at 0.1 square metres per 200ml glass, and 0.2kg of emissions. However, it's undeniable that the water usage in almond milk has been shouted about by the media. Where oat and soya milk use less than 10 litres of water per 200ml glass, almond milk uses 80 litres of water per glass. It is nevertheless interesting to note that dairy-milk still uses 120 litres of water per glass, in comparison. So, although almond milk isn't the most eco-friendly amongst other vegan milks, it is still more environmentally friendly than cows milk.

RICE MILK

PRICE
Rice Dream rice milk prices at £1.50 per litre. Rice Dream is continuously ranked as one of the most popular rice milks, being compared to 'skimmed-milk'.
 
TASTE
Rice milk is a thinner style of dairy-free milk. It is harder to cook and bake with, but because of its neutral taste, it works well in drinks or dishes where you don't want it to overwhelm the other flavours - for instance, it won't be overpowering in coffee.

 

ECO-FRIENDLY

Rice milk is the least eco-friendly of the bunch, as it uses a sizeable amount of resources in production. Rice milk's emissions come out at 0.3kg per glass, and 50 litres of water per glass. But again, these are still lower numbers than cows-milk and is therefore more environmentally friendly than dairy.

Source:
Poore and Nemecek (2018), Science, pp. 987-992

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