Alternatives to Cow Milk

by in Healthy Tips, January 20, 2009

Don’t like milk? Not a problem. There are many milk alternatives available these days — perfect for the lactose intolerant or folks looking to change it up. Here are some you might explore.

Soy Milk
This is the most common substitute. Products include soy milk, yogurt, butter, cream cheese, cheese, sour cream, and even ice cream (Tofutti Cuties are my childhood favorite!). Soy milk comes in several flavors, including plain, chocolate, cappuccino and vanilla. You can also get no-sugar-added varieties. Keep in mind that soy milk contains 100 calories and 4 grams of fat per cup. Choose a light soy milk if you’re trying to cut back calories.

Rice and Almond Milk
Similar to soy milk but not always as readily available, rice and almond milk are other options. Many of these milks are fortified with calcium (a natural nutrient in cow milk) — check food labels to make sure you receive around 30% of your daily needs per serving. Rice milk is made from brown rice and has a whitish color and mild flavor. Almond milk, made from ground almonds, has a sweeter flavor. Both almond and rice milk come in plain, chocolate and vanilla flavors.

Coconut Milk
Derived from the flesh of the coconut, coconut milk also has a slightly sweet flavor. You often find it in Thai, West African, Hawaiian and West Indian dishes. Unlike the other alternative milks, coconut milk contains a significant amount of saturated fat so use it in moderation. It also has a strong flavor so add less to dishes. Light coconut milk contains about half the calories and fat of the regular version.

Substitution Tips
Soy, rice and almond milk work best as milk substitutes in recipes. Just follow a one-to-one ratio and stick to a plain or vanilla flavor for the closest match. You can add them to cold and hot cereals, coffee or hot chocolate. Use rice or soy milk to create a fruit smoothie. A simple glass of vanilla soy milk works well with a PB&J sandwich.

While it doesn’t taste exactly like the original, soy cheese actually melts well — try it in lasagnas, grilled “cheese” sandwiches or on a green salad. Unlike regular cow or goat cheese, soy cheese contains no cholesterol. My friend once substituted half the cheese in her lasagna for soy cheese, and her family couldn’t detect the difference.

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  7. Mary Kubik says:

    My holistic doctor thinks so. He told me that soy is not an alternative to cow's milk. Better to make your own almond milk or coconut milk.

  8. Kerri says:

    Hi Meredith:
    The link between soy and breast cancer is more for bulk soy products such as soy protein powders. They contain a much higher concentration of soy which has had some side effects, but it isn't definate that if you use these products you will get breast cancer. So enjoy an nice cold glass of soy milk ;-)

  9. micki says:

    please read information on soy here:
    i come from germany and we do not do soy in europe. not the way americans use it. when i read the information on that website i was shocked to find out what soy really is and does. i work in a health food store, the third one in the last 5 years and i can not find a person working in that business, that would eat or drink soy. we all check everything we eat to make sure no soy is in it. there are better substitues for milk, rice, almond, oat, goat, anything is better. check all your foods and if necessary call the manufacturer to make sure soy is not included in anything you eat or drink. it is that bad.

  10. Heather says:

    My hormone doctor says so. Soy increases estrogen and most of your estrogen is held in your breast tissue. High estrogen leads to breast cancer. FYI- so does non organic turkey and chicken breasts, due to all the chemicals pumped into the water they drink. My coworker used to distribute the pipes that insert the chemicals to their water. He said that from egg to plate is only 8 weeks, thats how fast they make them grow, and estrogen makes you fat. And now you cant even go onto a chicken farm becuase they are so stressed from the rapid growth that if you were to have a car back fire or gun go off, they will drop dead from the stress! Yikes

  11. LateNight says:

    I agree about the goats milk. When I was a child, the only milk that I could keep down was goats milk. I just wish that it was more readily available now.

  12. bamagirl75 says:

    I also agree with goats milk. My son has severe allergies to cow's milk, soy milk, and almond milk. He has been drinking goat's milk since he was 6 months. I also became allergic to cow's milk last year and only drink goats milk. Now I am not a "drinker" of milk. I only use it in ceral and I do not taste any difference. Just my 2 cents. :)

  13. jacki says:

    we like the sweetended version best…almost puked from unsweetned…lol

  14. jacki says:

    almond milk that is

  15. Jomama says:

    read "The China Study" for info about milk-scientific ,but easy to read.COW milk is not for humans.

  16. giovanna says:

    You should know. How much you weight?
    Would you drink dog milk? I know your answer. Cow milk is for little cow that is why their are fat. muuuuuuuuhh

  17. Guest says:

    You can find a lot of info about the bad effects milk has on your body at – understand this is a site dedicated to proving the BAD effects, not much good is mentioned here. =) But most all of it is sound information.

  18. Sarah says:

    So you have it, here is the nutrutional info from my carton of Unsweetened Vanilla Hemp Milk…
    Per 1 Cup serving:

    Cal 60 Omega 3 1100mg Omega 6 3700mg
    Total Fat 6g Sat Fat .5g Trans Fat 0g Polyunsat 4.5g Monounsat 1g
    Cholesterol 0mg Sodium 25mg Carbs 1g Fiber 0g Sugar 0g
    Protein 1g
    Vit A 10% Vit C 0% Calcuim 40% Iron 6% Vit D 20% Vit E 8%
    Zinc 4% Riboflavin 25% Folic Acid 2% Vit B12 20% Phosphorus 20%
    Magnesium 10%

  19. Gonnie says:

    No way, allie. After been a cow's milk adictive I tried almond milk. It's the best one, and it's not salty as you say.

  20. Don O Mahony says:

    Hi Allie, did you get any good advice on a really good alternative to drinking cows milk? I would like to give it up too but I don't know what to try. What do you use these days? Thanks, Don. Please email me at:

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