Ditching Dairy? See Our Side-by-Side Comparison of Popular Milk Substitutes

Allergies, sensitivities, and avoidance of animal products are some of the most common reasons that people choose alternatives to the traditional cow’s milk. While raw milk and goat’s milk are growing in popularity, they do not eliminate the majority of problems with allergies, sensitivities, and avoidance of animal products. Courtney Hardy shared, “I started drinking non-cows milk after a series of allergy shots where I found out I was allergic to cottonseed. I am not allergic to dairy nor am I lactose intolerant, but since dairy cows are fed a grain mixed with cottonseed it comes through their milk.”

I stopped drinking cows milk when I was fairly young; I just didn’t enjoy it at all. I still used it for cooking, until I decided to limit the dairy in my diet to see if my allergies and sinus issues could be resolved. Recently, I have been comparing milk substitutes to determine what would work best for my family. Real Food University provides a very handy comparison chart that compiles and compares the nutritional information in an eight ounce serving. An eight ounce serving of whole milk contains 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 13 grams of sugars, 8 grams of protein, 28% calcium, and 0% iron.


I did not consider soy milk because soy is a growing allergen. It’s been suspected that more and more people are showing allergies to soy as a result of the increase in genetically modified soy. I have read that soy can inhibit the absorption of protein which may persuade others to avoid soy milk as well. An eight ounce serving of soy milk contains 105 calories, 4 grams of fat, 9 grams of sugars, 30% calcium, and 6% iron.


Since rice milk is high in carbohydrates, it may not be appropriate for those suffering from diabetes. However, it is something that those with lactose intolerance, soy allergies, or nut allergies can drink. An eight ounce serving of rice milk contains 120 calories, 2 grams of feet, 10 grams of sugars, half a gram of protein, 2% calcium, and 1% iron. Rice milk is not as thick as cow’s milk. I did not enjoy the flavor of drinking rice milk. Angela Boeke also agreed that “rice milk is watery and has a strange aftertaste.”


I was surprised to learn that almond milk has been used since the Middle Ages. It is also safe for those with gluten and casein allergies. An eight ounce serving of almond milk contains 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 7 grams of sugars, 20% calcium, and 2% iron. Almond milk had a mild nutty flavor which I was able to drink.


Coconut milk is not rich in calcium, but it is rich in phosphorus which also helps strengthen bones. Although it has more fat than cow’s milk, the fats in coconut milk are more easily digested than those in dairy milk. It can be a good choice for those who need to avoid dairy and soy. An eight ounce serving of coconut milk contains 552 calories, 57 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugars, 4% calcium, and 22% iron. The coconut milk had a mild, sweet coconut flavor. The percentage of iron is important to note, as this may be the best choice for someone who has tendencies towards anemia. However, at more than 500 calories for a serving, this should be used sparingly.

I also tried a coconut almond blend from Blue Diamond. It is advertised to have 50% more calcium than milk. An eight ounce serving of almond coconut breeze contains 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugars, 45% calcium, and 4% iron, according to their website. The coconut flavor was slightly more mild.

The McCoy family in California stated that they “prefer Silk, but also enjoy Blue Diamond and Trader Joe’s house brand” for almond milk. I have not tried Trader Joe’s brand, but I have also enjoyed So Delicious who carries both coconut and almond milk products.

Kristin Fintel of Chehalem Ridge Bed & Breakfast in Newberg, Oregon (Best B&B if you Have a Special Diet from BedandBreakfast.com) reports that she chooses rice or soy milks due to personal dairy sensitivities, nut allergies, and concern over the price of coconut milk products. She states that when making béchamel sauce, the flavors and textures of non-dairy milks change the sauce.I have not noticed any difference in baking, but my kitchen is not as fancy as Kristin’s.

I would be interested to know if you have noticed any differences in food preparation using milk substitutes.

Also Read:

Slideshow: Healthy Baking Swaps

Side-by-Side Comparison of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fresh Market

Skim Milk May be Making You Fat

milk pouring image from BigStockPhoto

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