It’s so trendy to drink milk-alternatives nowadays. And if you’re an aspiring hipster, don’t drink cow’s milk…you might get pinched.
I’m a self diagnosed lactose intolerant…this is based on very sparse evidence and when I want dairy products, I often dismiss my hypochondriac-driven disorder. San Francisco, city of the crunchy and free-to-be-naked (remember to cover your seat), is one of the top foodie cities in America. And much of San Francisco’s foodie nature caters to people with special diets like vegetarians, vegans, locavores…you name it. My adroit perceptiveness has led me to realize that many San Franciscans, myself included, prefer soy or almond milk in their coffee rather than old-fashioned cow’s milk.
Mark Bittman published an article in the NYTimes last weekend on our misconceptions about milk. For example, he explains how the keys to preventing osteoporosis are lifelong exercise and vitman D, both of which promote strong bones, not drinking the recommended 2 pounds of milk daily. Similarly, dairy consumption has been linked with Type 1 diabetes, prostate cancer, and heartburn. Not to mention that the majority of milking cows live terrible lives and between 30-50 million Americans are lactose intolerant.
What then should we, the non-milk drinkers of America, put in our coffee and cereal bowls? Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, hemp milk…WOAHHH. For the sake of time, and my personal interest, I’m going to compare soy and almond milk, the most seemingly popular of the moo-less milks and my two favorites.
Soy milk – Made from soybeans that have been soaked in water and then ground into a liquid to be boiled and cooled, this popular choice is rich in protein (more than almond milk) and contains very little to no (depending on the brand) saturated fat. In its pure form soy milk contains little calcium, so make sure to find a brand that’s calcium enriched. I’ve heard different stories about how soy products can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. But according to an article on breastcancer.org, this has not yet been proven (there are some hypothesis that soy products actually decrease the risks of breast cancer) and consuming 3 portions (1/2 cup each) of soy daily is safe.
My favorite soy milk: Whole Foods 365 Organic Original Light Soy Milk
Almond milk – The lowest in calories than other milk alternatives, almond milk is made much the same way as soy milk, but instead of grinding soybeans you grind almond milk into almond butter and then a similar process follows. It’s rich in vitamin D and calcium as well as other vitamins and minerals, but contains less protein than soy milk and is typically more expensive.
My favorite almond milk: Whole Foods 365 Organic Original Almond Milk
*In both almond and soy milk, be aware of added sugar and try to find a brand without this excess.
Personally, almond milk is my favorite; I’m not sure why but I just feel healthier drinking it. But this doesn’t stop me from getting my occasional treat – a Starbucks soy latte. Made from vanilla soy milk (because this is all they have at the moment…at least in the US), this gem is so sweet and delicious, but I prefer remaining oblivious to their soy milk’s nutrition facts.
Which milk alternative is your favorite? If you’ve had heartburn, an upset stomach, have been embarrassingly gassy recently, perhaps try going off milk and see how you feel. It might be smart if you’re planning on having some fun this weekend if you know what I mean.