Soy Good: The Lowdown on Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

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This post is adapted from my post on Stone Soup, the blog of Food and Nutrition Magazine, which is a publication of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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I remember my first taste of almond milk. Clutching an enormous glass between unsteady fingers, I took a tentative sip of the pale liquid – and loved it.

Did I mention this event took place six months ago?

Despite being a registered dietitian, I’ve been slow to try foods and beverages with which I did not grow up. For example, I baked these Meyer lemon blueberry vegan scones for the first time only a few months ago. Since then, I’ve experimented often with gluten-free and/or vegan cooking and baking. After all, I’d like to know what I’m talking about with my vegan clients.

People choose non-dairy milk alternatives for many reasons. Perhaps they’ve decided to exclude animal products from their diets. Maybe they’re lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. Or, like me, they’ve discovered how delicious almond milk is in their breakfast cereal. There are many non-dairy milk alternatives, including those made of soy, almond, rice, oat, coconut, hemp and flax. Which one is best? Answer: it depends.


Looking for protein? Try soy milk for 6 to 9 grams of protein per serving. Allergic to soy? Enjoy rice milk, which is one of the least likely non-dairy milks to cause an allergic reaction. If you’re looking for fiber, drink a glass of oat milk for 2 to 4 grams of fiber. Want plenty of omega-3 fats? Try hemp milk, which can have an entire day’s recommended amount of omega-3 fats in one serving. Those wishing to cut calories may enjoy almond milk, which contains only 30 to 40 calories per cup.

Choose fortified non-dairy milk alternatives to ensure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D. And watch sugar and sodium: many non-dairy milks have added flavorings and salt. Look for one with no more than 12 grams sugar and 100 mg sodium per serving.

Even though I’m not vegan or lactose intolerant, I plan to enjoy non-dairy milks in cereal, baked goods and anything else I can imagine. It’s a tasty world out there, so drink up!

Q: Have you ever tried a non-dairy milk alternative? Which is your favorite?

P.S. The winner of the Bestowed giveaway is Elena Vo!  Congratulations, Elena!


  1. We drink almond milk once in a while. I still haven’t made my own, but I am planning to soon. I’ve also read that it’s really easy to make hemp milk, so maybe I’ll make that first! 🙂

  2. I’m not allergic to dairy but I do love soy and almond milk and drink them very often. And I love cooking with coconut milk too. thank you so much for sharing these valuable information. 🙂

  3. I often buy whichever on is on sale but I do gravitate to almond the most. I do use goat milk however if I’m doing a white sauce almond milk just doesn’t cut

  4. I drink a low of almond milk, and so does Nick (he actually really likes it) but now with all of this information about carageenen (can’t spell..) coming out, I think I may need to switch!! I love hemp milk, but it’s pricey and only comes in the smaller containers.
    Great visual there, with the Nutrition Facts. Nice work!

    1. Thanks, Gina! My next project is to make my own almond milk – crossing my fingers it’s successful.

  5. I sometimes buy almond milk but I wish it tasted a little less…processed. I should probably try out more brands to find something better. In Korea I drank soy milk more often, it was so delicious! I’d like to try oat milk and hemp milk too, sounds intriguing 🙂

  6. I have soy milk nearly every day, I also enjoy soy yoghurt and soy ice cream a lot. I’ve tried rice milk (didn’t like it) and oat milk (it’s ok…) but I like soy milk best. I usually get Alpro, it costs a little more than non-brand soy milk but comes with vitamin D and B12. The only time I’ve ever seen almond milk it was four euros for one liter, way too expensive. I definitely want to try it some day!

  7. Simply Life says:

    I love vanilla soy milk in my coffee and cereal!

  8. I usually do soy milk, but sometimes I’ll get almond milk. I find that unsweetened soy milk is easier to come by than unsweetened almond milk.

  9. I LOVE vanilla almond milk. The original is fine too, but I have such a sweet tooth most of the time. Adding vanilla almond milk to my oatmeal is heaven in my mouth. I first started experimenting with milk alternatives because my nephew has Asperger’s so he is on a very restricted diet. So I tried sips of each milk alternative they bought (I forgot which one they settled on, but it wasn’t the almond).
    And they are so good in smoothies! I still drink cow’s milk, but it has to be the organic kind. Reading about what they do to dairy scared me from ever drinking non-organic cow’s milk again!
    Pinning this post..

  10. I like soy and almond…but I’ve heard bad things about soy lately, so I’m on the fence. What do you think? I want protein and I like the flavor of soy…but then I get worried by what my friends tell me. This was a great list of milk alternatives. I have tried almost all of them!

    1. Hi Monet 🙂

      The short answer is that you have nothing to worry about. There’s a lot of research out there, but you have to be careful with what you read. Particularly if you get info from news articles, you’re getting information second- and third-hand. If you delve into the research, you’ll see a lot of mice and rat studies where the animals are given corresponding doses larger than what a human could ever consume, as well as inconsistent methodology and sources of soy.

      My general tip is that if there’s a food you’re worried about, spread out your diet a bit. Bottom line: Don’t stress about soy, and switch up your non-dairy milks if you’d like – you’ll get a wider variety of nutrients that way anyway.

      Hope that helps 🙂

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