If you entered a coffee shop ten years ago, you likely would have had one or two options for milk to put in your coffee, maybe whole milk and skim milk. However, over the past decade, non-diary milk has become an extremely popular alternative.
While non-dairy may sound like a healthier option, there are many pros and cons to be analyzed before deciding which is better.
In 2018, many people became outraged when a popular dairy substitue disappeared from the shelves of virtually every grocery store. All over the USA, oat milk was sold out.
This example simply demonstrates the sheer amount of people who have turned to non-dairy options for milk. It’s because of this that the dairy industry has began to experience a decline in sales.
According to The Guardian, “Reduced demand for cow’s milk and falling prices led to the closure of 1,000 dairy farms in the UK between 2013 and 2016.”
In 2020, this is still happening. With vegan milks on the rise, more and more dairy farms are being put out of business.
The issue is that the farms being forced into closing is that family farms are the ones going bankrupt.
These families get their main source of income from selling dairy and have had these farms in their families for generations.
Without them, people who have grown up specializing in the dairy industry are now out of the job.
Bigger companies such as Big Oak Farm, the biggest dairy farm in the US, are staying in business and don’t suffer as big of a loss in comparison to local farms.
While dairy-free milk isn’t the only reason for this, it’s certainly the primary cause.
Earlier this week, our newspaper class spent the period tasting these dairy alternatives and forming our own opinions on the taste and benefits of each.
While many people can’t definitely say that non-dairy milks are necessarily better for you than cow milk, many studies do show that each type has its own benefits.
After looking up the nutritional information of the milks we bought, here’s what we saw.
We were surprised to see that oat milk contained more calories than all of the others, even whole milk.
Flax milk had the lowest amount of calories by quite a bit, but we’ll get to the reason that may not be so great later.
Soy milk came in with the highest amount of protein, which makes sense considering the milk is a natural byproduct of the manufacturing of tofu.
Both rice milk and flax milk contained no protein.
Oat milk also contained the most fat, having nearly 11 grams.
Skim milk contained the least amount of fat at zero grams, and rice milk was only slightly above that with about two grams.
Rice, cashew, and soy milk all contained around 70% calcium. Hemp milk however, only contained about five percent.
Overall, it’s hard to tell what the milk’s true nutritional benefits are just by looking at statistics, many nutritionist debate on what milk people should be drinking and personal opinion is key in this decision.
That’s why we decided to make our own judgements by tasting the milks and ranking them on a scale of one to five.
The first non-dairy milk that we tried was hemp milk, which is created from the seeds of the plant and also used to produce protein powder and cooking oil. It’s rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids among many other vitamins. This is a plant-based milk for those allergic to nuts.
Instantly, we noticed the color.
Ew look at it! I don’t like that. It looks like watered down chocolate milk.Editor in Chief, Alek Pace
The milk is grey and grainy, which only added to our uncertainty about tasting it.
We were also bothered by the smell. As a class, we came to the conclusion that it smelt slightly like dog food.
However, the taste of the hemp milk was not nearly as bad as it’s scent and appearance.
We were pretty divided on how we felt about the milk. On a scale of one to five, our class average gave it a two.
I know what it tastes like: unsweetened pancake batter! From the box.Mrs. Teasley
The second milk we tried was soy milk.
We were reassured by the fact that it wasn’t grey like the hemp milk, but it still didn’t look like normal milk.
It’s like watery. I don’t want to drink this. It smells like lake water.Assistant Editor in Chief, Kayla Pimpleton
Once again, the smell and appearance of the milk was not consistent with what we expect of cow milk.
We were divided on whether or not we liked the taste of soy milk.
Personally, I rated it a one out of five.
Oh I hate it. It’s so bad. It’s so so bad. Why does it have that taste? It’s just not good.Project Manager, Ava Lees
My classmates favored it a bit more.
It kind of taste like angel food cake.Sophomore, Samantha Dodd
I think it’s really good. I’d give it a four. It’s light and sweet and it taste like milk that went to heaven and came back.Freshman, Makenzie Bird
Not everyone agreed with this assessment and the average score we gave it was a three.
Cashew milk is exactly what it sounds like. Cashews pulverized and mixed with water until you get a milky liquid that some people might call milk.
We disagreed with that–the concept that this could be justifiably called milk.
The cashew milk was definitely one of the worst tasting dairy alternatives.
Many doctors link cashew milk to good eyesight, a healthier heart, and better immune systems, but after trying it, we aren’t sure it’s worth it.
Our class rated it an average of one and a half, receiving four zeros, one three, and a one.
It taste like somebody else’s spit and tears![Anonymous]
Very few of us had a good reaction to the milk so we decided to bring in some more opinions. We invited Dr. Kirby, Mr. Stringfellow, and Harrison Russ, the senior class valedictorian, to try some of the milks.
The first thing we coerced them to try was the cashew milk.
Surprisingly, Mr. Stringfellow didn’t mind the taste of the milk, saying that he liked it and that he had drank cashew milk before.
Dr. Kirby agreed that it was gross, but didn’t have quite the repulsive reaction that we did.
Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty gross. Honestly it has a cashew flavor. I’ve drank much worse than that.Dr. Kirby
Harrison on the other hand, was very much aligned with our hatred for the taste.
When we asked him to rate it, he told us that he would give it a negative 77.
It taste like bleach. My mouth is salivating. Please stop. It gets negative points.Harrison Russ
Overall, we all agreed that we would steer clear of cashew milk in the future.
I did spit it out.Assistant Editor, Kayla Pimpleton
Almond milk had a much more plain taste then some of the other dairy alternatives that we tried.
It’s almost exactly what you would expect it to be, it just taste like almonds crushed into a liquid.
There’s no added sweetness and it certainly doesn’t taste like normal milk.
Our class average was a 1.83 out of five.
For the most part we rated it a three, but our Editor in Chief, Alek Pace, was an outspoken outlier who rated it a zero, bringing the group average down.
Everyone else had a much more tempered reaction. We didn’t hate it, but we wouldn’t drink it by choice.
It taste like almonds, but I don’t like almonds.Assistant Editor, Kayla Pimpleton
Most of our class had tried our next dairy alternative before.
Coconut milk is used in many Starbucks drinks because of it’s sweet flavor and nutritional benefits, so it wasn’t a completely foreign taste.
It didn’t taste like milk, but it wasn’t bad.
Overall we thought that the milk’s taste was pretty average. We ranked it a three out of five, once again with pretty divided reviews.
I don’t like coconuts, so I don’t like this.Assistant Editor, Kayla Pimpleton
Harrison Russ also tried the coconut milk and found it to be his favorite of the non-dairy milks.
The coconut milk is something that I would actually sit down and drink. It’s pretty good.Harrison Russ
We thought the cashew milk could not be beat in terms of how awful the taste was.
Flax milk proved us wrong.
Earlier I mentioned that flax milk has the lowest amount of calories of all the milks. While low calories is certainly a great thing, the awful taste flax milk leaves overthrows whatever nutritional benefits the milk may have.
I feel like sometimes, taste is better then health.Editor in Chief, Alek Pace
We rated the milk a 0.33, with five of us giving it a zero and one giving it a merciful two.
That is awful. I don’t want to ever taste that again. It should be a crime to give this to your children.Editor in Chief, Alek Pace.
Mrs. Teasley gagged, Alek spit it out, and the rest of us just really, really hated the taste. Except for sophomore Samantha Dodd.
It’s like lemon water. It just taste like lemony thick water. I don’t hate it.Samantha Dodd
When we had our guest try the flax milk. All three agreed that it was bad.
I’m done. Thank you very much. I’m going to go throw up now. That’s awful.Mr. Stringfellow
Harrison’s reaction was similar.
Why would anyone drink that willingly? That’s terrible.Harrison Russ
Overall, we definitely don’t recommend the flax milk if you care about how things taste.
Rice milk was our second to last non-dairy milk and for the most part, it wasn’t bad.
Our class ranked it an average of 3.33 out of five, making it the highest ranked milk we tried that day.
It, much like the coconut milk, was pretty sweet and although it didn’t taste like milk, none of us disliked it.
Our editor Alek Pace even liked the rice milk despite having given all the other ones a score equal to or below two.
Wait why is this one actually good? I like it. I didn’t think I would but I do. I give it a five. Rice milk and I have a connection.Editor, Alek Pace
It’s hard to describe the taste of the rice milk, but it certainly wasn’t bad. It was a bit of a strange texture but the sweet taste made up for it.
Yeah this one’s not bad.Project Manager, Ava Lees
Rice milk was eventually named the winner of the taste test by having the highest average score.
Oat milk was another milk that we didn’t hate, but also didn’t enjoy.
As Mrs. Teasley put it, it just taste like an oat was milked.
Like the almond milk, the taste of the oat milk was pretty much what we expected. It was pretty bland but had an underlying taste of oat.
Our class gave it an average of 3.16 out of five, putting it between the rice milk and the coconut milk.
It’s not as bad as I expected it to be. I still don’t like it, but I’m not repulsed by it.Project Manager, Ava Lees
The one thing that we did notice was the odd consistency of the oat milk.
This doesn’t even pour like any natural liquid.Mr. Stringfellow
Other than the consistency, the milk was better than expected.
Mixing with Coffee:
After we tried all of our non-dairy milks, we wanted to see how the milks would react when mixed with coffee.
For the most part, the non-diary milk didn’t appear to be any more separated from the coffee than the cow milk.
That is, with the exception of the hemp milk, which clumped together and did not mix with the coffee well.
I don’t want to drink anything that looks like that.Chief Editor, Alek Pace
For the most part, the non-dairy milks left a pretty bad taste in all of our mouths after trying them.
However, despite our distaste for the milks, there are certainly benefits to drinking non-dairy alternatives over mammal milk.
For example, the milks listed above are great options for people who are lactose intolerant.
If non-dairy milk is something you think you’re interested in trying, it’s definitely an interesting experience.
That being said, if you want my advice, stay away from the flax milk.