It's been about a year since I gave up milk. I had learned that cow milk was NOT making my bones stronger, in fact, it was making them weaker. I learned about the horrible effects dairy milk had on my immune system. That was enough for me to stop drinking it. Then, I learned about the disastrous effects on our ecosystem caused by the dairy industry, not to mention how the cows were treated. And that was my incentive to start encouraging others not to drink cow's milk. If any of my personal training clients are drinking milk, that's usually the first thing I tell them to eliminate. “What can you use instead of milk??” is the question that follows.
My personal favorite (especially for shakes and smoothies) is almond milk or any kind of NUT MILK. There are several types of nut milk that you can find almost anywhere. Nut milk is basically ground up nuts and water. It is so easy to make at home too (would be a great project to do with the kids)!
Then there is RICE MILK. Rice milk is a combination of boiled rice, rice syrup and rice starch. Rice milk is often fortified with extra vitamins and minerals. Thickening agents (like sugar) are added to many commercial brands.
HEMP MILK is just now gaining more popularity. This may be because hemp seeds have in the past been overlooked (or purposely ignored because hemp is the cousin of cannabis). Hemp seeds have tremendous nutrition value in them, so hemp products like hemp milk are becoming more accessible.
SOY MILK has been around for awhile. Some people love it, some stay away from it. This is because soy can be tricky. Everyone's bodies are made differently, so certain people will experience greater benefits from soy. Some people won't experience any of the benefits of soy. Try it out and see what you think!
COCONUT MILK is another great option (and a great base for ice cream...yum). Coconut milk is not hard to come by these days. If you are feeling a bit tropical I would go for this one!
When you are choosing your milk alternative, be sure to read the carton. Many come in sweetened, unsweetened, and other tasty flavors like Vanilla. Sometimes the consistency of the different types of milk can be different. I've noticed some almond milks tend to be a little thicker in consistency than what people might be used to. You can always add water to thin it out and it will still taste the same.
There are also powder milk alternatives available, but the five above tend to be the most popular. I use my almond milk for everything from smoothies to baking. If you are new to milk alternatives I would try each one to figure what works best for you.
Eliminating cow's milk means a decrease in osteoporosis and bronchial infections, a decrease in animal cruelty, and a decrease in deforestation and other environmental impacts that are caused by the dairy industry.
There are so many tasty alternatives out there that have way MORE benefits than the dairy industry claims to have. Start using milk alternatives for a healthier you and a healthier planet!
Photo credit: Maria Li