A few weeks ago, I noticed that I was staring at a refrigerator case full of plant-based milk. I didn’t know which one to choose. The man next to me was doing the same. “You can buy it cheaply at Costco,” he said, saying it’s available in bulk packages. It was good to know-these may be more expensive than dairy milk-but first I wanted to understand which one to buy!
The number of choices can be paralyzed and all can be difficult to try, so I wanted to compare them in this week’s blog post. That way, the next time you go through this case at a grocery store, you’ll know which one you want to get and you don’t have to be confused and frustrated to stand there!
If you don’t want to read the entire blog post, my summary looks like this:
-Oat milk and pea milk have a lower impact on the planet (emissions, land use, water use) and have much less sugar and saturated fat than dairy milk. (I didn’t try other versions like soy milk.) (1) (2)
-It tasted better than I expected, so I almost used it.
-In my opinion, the most milk-like oat milk is Chobani. If you like whole milk, try Chobani’s “Extra Creamy”, and if you like 2% milk, try “Original”.
-If you like non-fat milk, or if you generally want to reduce fat and sugar, try Planet Oats. It’s not very white or creamy, but it tastes good and is easy to get used to.
-Most of us are consuming more protein than we need. However, if you need an alternative milk that contains the same amount of protein as your dairy product, Ripple is recommended, especially for those who like whole milk. It’s creamy, smooth and delicious, but it’s expensive.
-Costs vary, with Califia Farms and Ripple being the most expensive. (Only two people are using PET bottles.)
Note on selecting this blog post: I only tried oat milk and pea milk. I tried the “original” version of the popular brand and some variations. I haven’t tried silk oat milk, but there are some nutritional information contained below.
If you’re wondering what these milks look like:
From left to right: Open Nature Oat Milk, Planet Oat Original, Otree Original, Chobani Original, Chobani Extra Creamy, Califia Farms Original Protein Oat Milk, Not Milk (2%), Ripple Original.
You can see that there is some variation in color. The two white ones in the middle are Chobani. This is one of the reasons I say this option is more like milk. The two on the right are pea milk, which was also a little white. The open nature on the far left seemed to be particularly thin. Califia Farms and Planet Oat were both on the brownish side, and Oatly was probably greenish. But in my opinion, most people will be happy with one of these options, depending on their taste.
A plant-based milk brand that corresponds to the above eight glasses.
Many brands have “extra creamy” variations with added fat. Most use sunflower oil for fat, but Chobani and Autry use canola oil, and Open Nature uses canola oil. Almost all also use gellan gum to help stabilize and thicken the liquid.
Most of these tastes were pretty bland and fun. Many have a slight taste of oats. Chobani may have been the simplest, but this is part of my recommendation as the most milky. There wasn’t much taste of oats on my palette. It was pretty creamy. The ones that tasted the most different from milk in my mind were Not Milk, which was on the slightly savory side, and Califia Farms, which looked particularly auty. However, mileage may vary. This part is very subjective.
The graph below summarizes the nutritional profiles of several available options. Many brands have sugar-free versions, but keep in mind that I only include Planet Oats. Similarly, many brands have creamy versions, but I’ve included only Chobani’s.
Nutritional comparison of several plant-based milks. The left axis is sugar (blue), protein (red), fat (yellow), and the right axis is calories (green). The value is per serving (1 cup of milk). From left to right: Dairy (2%), Chobani Original, Chobani Extra Creamy, Planet Oats, Planet Oats Extra Creamy, Planet Oats Unsweetened, Oat Original, Silk Oats, Califia Protein Oats, Open Nature Oats Milk , Not milk (2%), and ripple sugar-free.
All plant-based milks are much lower in sugar and protein than dairy milks, and you can see that Califia Farms and Ripple are the closest. (Both of these brands use pea protein, not milk.) With varying fat content, Planet Oats are generally the least fat of the brand. Varieties other than oats (not milk or ripple) have slightly lower calories.
In terms of cost, there is considerable variability between brands, all of which are more expensive than organic dairy milk. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the containers are smaller than 0.5 gallons, so prices can be fooled. Occasionally there is sales and the cost seems to have dropped to $ 0.05 per ounce. Prices shown are for Safeway (not for sale). There may be differences depending on the store.
The cost of various plant-based milk and organic dairy milk at Safeway.
The rest of this post shows the containers and nutrition labeling of the varieties I have tried, along with a few other notes.
Chobani is a well-known supplier of dairy products that have recently begun to make oat milk and products such as yogurt based on oat milk. There are several types of oat milk, including regular, extra creamy, vanilla, zero sugar, and zero sugar vanilla. The two I tried seemed to be good in color, texture and taste. Chobani oat milk is reasonably priced compared to other plant-based milks I’ve seen and is more expensive than dairy milk. The product has the same fat and calories as dairy products, and is low in sugar, saturated fat and protein.
Planet Oats is made by the dairy company HP Foods. There are several types, including regular, extra creamy, vanilla, sugar-free, sugar-free vanilla, and chocolate. They have much less sugar, saturated fat, and protein than dairy milk. They also tend to be less fat than other oat milks, so they also have fewer calories. Planet Oats also produces frozen desserts and coffee creamers, as well as milk, a cold-preserved food that does not require refrigeration.
Oat is the first popular oat milk born in Europe decades ago. There are low-fat, full-fat, chocolate types and creamers. Oatly also manufactures frozen desserts and yogurt alternatives. Oats have somewhat more protein than other oat milks and have a milkier appearance than dairy milk. The brand is known for its unusual marketing, as you can see from its website. This is one of the values of the battery, it comes in a complete 64 ounce container and has an excellent overall combination of taste, appearance and nutrition profile.
Open Nature Oats Milk is a Safeway brand. It’s pretty thin and has a watery taste, so it’s not unpleasant at all, but it’s not recommended as a top pick. It is relatively inexpensive and has a nutritional profile similar to Planet Oats.
I didn’t try silk oat milk, which is famous for soy milk. Silk produces not only other plant-based milks, but also creamer and yogurt alternatives. I can’t comment on how it looks or tastes, but there is nutritional information.
Based in Southern California, Califia Farms produces a wide variety of plant-based milk, including almond milk and coconut milk. There are several types of oat milk, including creamy, low sugar, vanilla, protein versions, and almond blends. They have some creamers and shelf-stable foods. Their product comes in a small (48 ounce) plastic bottle and is one of the most expensive products I have tested. Protein Oat Milk is light brown and creamy and contains both oat and pea protein, as well as a small amount of sunflower seeds and flaxseed oil.
Starting in Chile, Not Milk offers 1%, 2% and 4% pea-based milk. This is probably the most “different” of the products mentioned here, and the ingredient list is a bit complicated. At first I didn’t like the taste, but it looks and feels like milk.
Ripple, a local Bay Area company, manufactures oat blends, protein shakes, and frozen desserts, in addition to several different protein milks. The version of sugar-free protein milk I tried had a very creamy, white and mild taste. I remembered the whole milk.
If you are interested, you can also make your own oat milk. It’s much cheaper, but you need a good blender. I don’t have Vitamix etc, but it seems to work. I used this recipe. I thought it was pretty good, but it couldn’t be made so easily. It separated after one night in the fridge and had to be agitated. It may have been a little yellower and not darker than the oat milk I bought at the store. I think it is easy to separate, so please use it after stirring.
In summary, these plant-based milks are better than I expected. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so hesitant to try them. Find the one that most closely resembles the milk you’re used to, or the one that has the nutritional profile you want to have in your diet, and spend a few days getting used to it in your range. I think it can be different. Or go looking for something in the meantime.
I think all of these options are suitable for drinking and pouring cereals and mixing them with hot drinks. I tried making pudding and quiche with oat milk, but both seem to work. However, I am generally a beginner in plant-based milk. Many people are more experienced than I am, so I’d love to hear your opinions, impressions, and questions in the comments section. I would like to hear from those who have tried it for the first time.
Notes and references
1. Besides the oat milk and pea milk tested in this blog, there are many types of plant-based milk. Soy milk is probably the biggest gap because it has less impact and a good nutrient profile. Other types of plant-based milk are difficult to find (eg hemp milk) or have a significant impact on land and water use (eg almonds and coconuts). There are also cashew nuts, macadamia, sesame seeds, pistachios, hazelnuts and rice. Uhu. Environmentally, I feel that oats, peas, soybeans, and hemp are the best practices, but no definitive study has been done.
2. Although the above saturated fat data is not shown, dairy milk contains 5g in a full milk, 3g in 2% and 1.5g in 1%. Almost all of these plant-based milks weigh less than 0.5g.
The above fiber data is also not shown. Dairy products are fiber-free. As indicated on the label, some of these plant-based milks are a few grams per cup.
Finally, all plant-based milks are supplemented with some vitamins like calcium and vitamin D. On paper, it contains as much or more as dairy products, but we don’t know how well the additives are absorbed. (With the exception of Chobani, oat milk has slightly less calcium and vitamin D than the dairy milk I’ve seen.)
Current climate data (March 2022)
Global Impact, US Impact, CO2 Metrics, Climate Dashboard
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