I’ve drunk all sorts of plant milks since my teens as I’ve never tolerated cow’s milk very well.
As I’ve become more health conscious, I’ve whittled my favourites down to the ‘cleaner’ ones.
If you are drinking plant milks daily, its worth knowing whats in your chosen brand – as they can be wide ranging from ‘clean’ – was is says on the tin, to 5 or more ingredients including sugar, thickners, white rice etc.
I’ve listed below my favourite brands and what ingredients are less desirable, as well as an easy recipe to make almond milk from scratch (using almond butter).
Some of the cleanest vegan milks available in big supermarkets:
❇️Plenish milks – these are probably the cleanest brand of plant milks out there (available from big supermarkets) – usually just 3 ingredients: water, nuts/oats and tiny bit of sea salt. The only one with added rice is the coconut milk. These are the ones I now choose to have at home.
❇️Rude Health ULTIMATE almond milk – choose the white carton with water, almonds and a pinch of salt. The yellow carton has 14% rice, 1% almonds!
❇️Oatly organic oat milk – just oats, water and salt. Note its the organic one that doesn’t have anything else added. The non organic ones have extra stuff – oils, acidity regulators etc.
The really clean way – make your own
Make your own! Lots of recipes out there. My favourite one for almond milk involves 100% raw, almond butter, and adding this to water and blending – a very easy way of making almond milk (just make sure almond butter is not filled with sugar or added oils).
Recipe – 1 tbsp raw 100% almond butter for every cup of water used – blend. Keeps for a few days in an airtight container. If you want a little natural sweetness, try blending with a pitted date.
Stuff to watch out for in commercial plant milk
A sweetner- avoid if diabetic, insulin resistant or trying to lose weight. A study has shown it to kill good bacteria in the gut and increase E.coli (associated with autoimmune disease such as Crohns)*
Added as a thickner to lots of food. Studies have shown links to intestinal inflammation, particularly in ulcerative colitis**
High in omega 6 fatty acids. Western diets tend to be very unbalanced towards omega 6 than omega 3, which is inflammatory in the body and can be a risk factor for disease. Avoiding added sunflower oil in processed foods can help rebalance omegas (click here for blog on omegas)
This is the third ingredient in a popular, sweetened, soya milk. Not ideal for teeth and health if consuming regularly and especially if giving to kids.
My favourite for taste has been the yellow Rude Health almond milk for years. When looking at the ingredients on their website I saw that it had 14% rice, and 1% almonds (so basically rice milk!) – hence why its quite sweet. White rice can be sugar spiking as a white carb, and also in large amounts there is a concern about arsenic. I don’t want to be drinking large amounts of non fibrous rice daily, on top of eating it in meals. Children are particularly sensitive to arsenic therefore I would avoid too much vegan milk with rice in kids. Eating rice in moderation is ok in my opinion, but I would choose brown rice.
Other preservatives, flavourings and thickners
Are generally made from a naturally occurring chemicals, however, these can still contribute to digestive issues in some people as they are not intended to be drunk frequently. If you feel discomfort after the milk, switch to another purer brand and see what happens.
Added vitamins and minerals – note
The organic milks naturally don’t have added vitamins and calcium. If it’s this you are after, perhaps for a kiddie, you can either choose clean plant milks and give them supplements or read labels and mix brands up a bit so you don’t ‘over do’ certain additions.