Moo-ve Over Cow’s Milk!

Moo-ve Over Cow’s Milk!

Plant-based dairy alternatives are becoming more prevalent. What started out as a segment really geared towards those with dairy allergies has become one of the most popular food trends. But how exactly does milk alternative stack up to cow’s milk? And should we really be jumping on the bandwagon saying “moo-ve over cow’s milk!”?

In my household, I have both cow’s milk and unsweetened almond milk. It is important to note that milk and milk alternatives each have their own advantages, so based on your individual needs select one that’s right for you. Some reasons you might choose a milk alternative include: if you are vegan, vegetarian or have a lactose intolerance.

Here is a grid that helps you easily compare:

Low-Fat Cow’s Milk Soy Milk Almond Milk Coconut Milk Rice Milk
Calories 110 110 60 80 120
Protein 8g 8g 1g <1g 1g
Fat 2.5g 4.5g 2.5g 5g 2.5g
Carbohydrates 12g 9g 8g 7g 23g
Calcium (% of Daily Value) 30% 45% 45% 45% 30%

*When purchasing milk alternatives, be sure the purchase the unsweetened varieties as sweetened varieties can pack on extra calories from added sugars.

A couple notes to make:

  • Soy milk is often referred to as cow’s milk most common alternative because its fat and protein content is like cow’s milk.
  • Almond milk is the lowest in calories, if reducing calorie intake is a main goal of yours.
  • Coconut milk is very high in saturated fats.
  • Unlike soy, milk and nuts – which are among the top eight allergens – rice milk is very well tolerated, making it a great option for those whose choices are limited.
  • Cow’s milk is one of the richest sources of well-absorbed calcium, which may be more readily available to the body that calcium-fortified milk alternatives. Be sure to shake milk alternatives that have been fortified with calcium as the calcium may settle at the bottom.
  • Cow’s diary protein is often called the gold standard for quality. The proteins in milk, whey and casein, are considered complete proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids (building blocks used for specific purposes, such as repairing muscles).

When cooking, not all milks are created equal and your results will vary. Check for cooking tips and recipes ahead of time so you are prepared.

The bottom line? With their being pros and cons to each option – mix it up! Some taste better in latte’s while others taste better with cereal. Whichever you choose, be sure to look at the ingredient panel and enjoy!


Kristin St Clair is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Dietitian with Teacup Wellness, specializing in healthy eating, weight management, and other areas of expertise to help you meet your nutrition and fitness goals.

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