Vegan soy milk is available at any grocery, and offers numerous advantages over cows’ milk.
While you can certainly make it at home, the results will likely be disappointing compared to a commercial version. That’s because when soybeans are cooked, a certain protein becomes denatured and gives the resultant milk an odd flavor. Most commercial brands use a special process to remove this denatured protein, which results in much better tasting milk than you can make at home.
Health Benefits of Soy Milk
Soy milk has plenty of protein and is much lower in saturated fat than cow’s milk. It’s far more nutritious than almond milk, and often contains six or seven times as much protein. You can purchase soy milk in aseptic shelf-stable packaging, or in cartons alongside cow’s milk in your grocery store.
It’s a fantastic source of protein. A typical brand carries a whopping seven grams of protein per cup, which compares to one gram for many rice or almond milks, and zero grams for coconut milk.
Don’t believe the dairy industry’s claims that their product is a uniquely good source of calcium. Many soy milk brands are calcium fortified, and offer even more calcium per serving than cows’ milk.
Consider choosing an unsweetened brand—you’ll get a pleasant, nutty flavor without a big dose of sugar.
- Pacific Natural Foods Unsweetened Organic Original
- Trader Joe’s Organic Soy Beverage
- WestSoy Organic Unsweetened Plain
- 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods Brand) Unsweetened Original Soymilk
Making Soy Milk from Scratch
What about homemade soy milk? You can certainly make some, and very cheaply at that, but you might not like the results. That’s because commercial producers use a secret weapon that you can’t buy for your home kitchen—they own expensive equipment designed to extract denatured proteins.
The problem here is that to make soy milk you’ve got to boil the soybeans until they’re soft. In doing this, some of the protein denatures. This denatured protein imparts a funny flavor to the milk that is, to put it kindly, an acquired taste. Throughout Asia, homemade soy milk has been widely consumed for centuries. Nearly everyone who grew up drinking the stuff thinks it tastes just fine. In fact, in any Asian grocery you can purchase traditional, locally-made soy milk that hasn’t had the denatured protein removed. This stuff has never caught on in Western cultures owing to its taste. But if you can remove the denatured protein—which every major Western soy milk producer does—you’ll have something that virtually everybody agrees is delicious.
It’s not that you shouldn’t try making soy milk—only that you shouldn’t expect your stuff to taste anything like the top brands. So before you rush out to buy an electric soy milk maker, sample the traditional Asian-style stuff. You can buy this at most Asian groceries. Local soy milk is usually unsweetened and packaged in plastic gallon-sized jugs, and it tastes nothing like mass-market brands. If you don’t like how it tastes, you probably won’t be satisfied by your homemade version either.