What Is Vegan Milk?

Amanda R. Bell

Vegan milk is defined as any liquid that resembles milk but is not derived from an animal. Soy and rice milk are the most common varieties of this liquid, and can often be used in place of dairy products for cooking, eating, and drinking. Milks that are derived from almonds or coconuts are also considered vegan, although they tend to be limited in their cooking uses due to a stronger flavor.

Soy milk.
Soy milk.

Soy milk is one of the most popular non-dairy milks available on the market, and is sold in the majority of grocery stores in many countries. It is made by grinding up dry soybeans, a legume high in protein, with water. In general, this vegan milk has about the same amount of protein as cow’s milk, and can be used as a dairy replacement in baking and other recipes. Soy milk is typically sold plain or flavored, often with vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.

Coconut milk is dairy-free, making it ideal for vegans.
Coconut milk is dairy-free, making it ideal for vegans.

Due to the fact that soy products are often used in vegan diets to replace protein found from animals, many vegans utilize alternatives to soy milk to provide more variety to their diets. Vegan milk made from rice is a popular alternative, and is commonly used in cereal, coffee, or in recipes that call for dairy products. While this product does not contain nearly as much protein as cow’s milk, it is often fortified to include many of the same nutrients. Rice milk is made primarily from brown rice, which is either pressed through a strainer or boiled, and then blended with water. It is typically sold unsweetened, although some manufacturers add sugar to improve flavor.

Almond milk is another popular type of vegan milk. High in protein and lacking cholesterol, it is considered a healthy alternative to dairy beverages. As with other types of vegan milk, this variety is made from ground almonds blended with water. It is typically sold unsweetened or sweetened, and can be flavored with vanilla or chocolate. While this liquid can be used in place of other dairy products in most recipes, it does tend to lend a nutty flavor to food, which may be undesirable for some dishes.

Vegan milk made from coconuts is one of the lesser-known alternatives to dairy products. It is most popular for its uses in coffee or cereal, provided the person enjoys the taste of coconut. Contrary to popular belief, coconut milk is not found inside of a coconut; the liquid that comes out when a coconut is cracked is actually known as coconut water. The milk is made by pressing grated coconut through a thin piece of cooking cloth. While this type of vegan milk can work in many baking recipes and is popular in many Asian dishes, it is typically not the first choice for dairy milk replacement.

Many people are allergic or sensitive to dairy products or avoid them for ethical reasons.
Many people are allergic or sensitive to dairy products or avoid them for ethical reasons.

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