Dairy-Free Diet Guide: Easy Tips & Helpful Advice

Almond Milk: Top Brands and How to Make it Yourself

Almond milk is available almost everywhere cows’ milk is sold, and is fast replacing cows’ milk in the world’s refrigerators. It’s the most popular type of vegan milk—even more popular than oat milk or soy milk. Most grocery stores carry several brands. It’s packaged either in refrigerated milk cartons or in shelf-stable aseptic boxes. You can get it in regular, chocolate, vanilla, and unsweetened varieties.

Every year, the dairy producers lose market share to almond milk. There are countless reasons not to drink cow’s milk, and almond milk is an excellent alternative. It’s much lower in saturated fat than cow’s milk, has no cholesterol, and best of all it lacks dairy’s connection to animal cruelty and the veal industry. Almond milk also wins on flavor—many people strongly prefer it to cow’s milk.

Almond milk does have a couple shortcomings compared to other vegan milks. It’s more resource intensive, since almonds take a lot of water to grow. Milks made from soy, oats, or peas require substantially less water. Also, as we’ll now see, almond milk is less nutritious than other vegan milk alternatives.

Nutrition Profile

Even though almonds contain substantial amounts of protein, there’s surprisingly little protein in most commercially produced almond milk. Soy milk offers far superior protein and nutrient content. That said, the textures and flavors of the best almond milks are superb. The stuff is great on cereal or used as the base of a smoothie.

Regular varieties often contain nearly as much sugar as does soda. So consider buying an unsweetened variety, so that you’ll get more nutrition per calorie. Happily, many brands are calcium fortified. These products typically contain at least as much calcium as milk.

Making Vegan Milks at Home

Of all the vegan milks you can make in your kitchen, almond and cashew-based milks are the easiest. That’s because, unlike soy or oats, there’s no need for preliminary cooking. Making your own almond milk puts you in control over the ingredients. Since you don’t need your homemade milk to last for weeks, you can use fewer and higher-quality ingredients.

Rather than work from a recipe, the best way to try making almond milk is to wing it and gradually get a feel for the proportions you like best. Start with a small handful of raw almonds and two cups (about half a liter) of water.  Blendtecs or Vitamixes will give you superior results compared to a regular blender.

Commercial producers finely strain their milks to eliminate sediment, since their products have a lengthy shelf life. You may decide to not strain at all, especially if you’re pouring your homemade milk over cereal. Leaving your milk unstrained leaves in the fiber and delivers better nutrition. Just shake thoroughly before pouring.

When you’re ready to take your homemade vegan dairy operation more seriously, there are cookbooks devoted entirely to the subject. Miyoko Schinner’s The Homemade Vegan Pantry features excellent recipes for almond, oat, and soy milk. Also consider picking up a copy of The Vegan Dairy by Catherine Atkinson.

Almond Milk Brands:

Here are some of the top brands sold in North America:

Summing things up, almond milk provides a delicious alternative to dairy products. To reduce your sugar intake, go with unsweetened whenever possible. And if you want a more nutrient-dense vegan milk, instead choose soy, pea, or oat-based brands.

For further reading: Please see our dairy-free guide and our guide to vegan alternatives.

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