We give you a guide for just some of the different ingredients that can be used to substitute cow’s milk and how to use them
For many people, milk is one of the last products they give up on the road to veganism. Whether splashed in your cuppa, or drizzled in a recipe, it can play a large part in any omnivorous or vegetarian diet.
But luckily, milk is one of the easiest things to replace in a vegan diet. Not only are shop shelves groaning under the weight of all the non-dairy milk substitutes (also known as ‘mylk’), you can also cheaply and easily make your own, which will store in the fridge for a couple of days. Favourites include soya, rice, oat, coconut, almond and hazelnut – and all have their own qualities, strengths and health benefits.
The most easily available of the non-dairy drinks, it is usually an option in coffee shops, and works well in lattes and cappuccini, as well as tea, although it can curdle in instant coffee. There is a huge variety on the market, with different brands, level of sweetness and flavour – the best thing is trial and error to find one that suits.
Create your own by soaking 85g of dried soya beans in boiling water. Leave them for 12 hours, changing water (cold is fine) at least once. After soaking, drain the beans then transfer to a blender. Add 500ml of cold water, and blitz until smooth. Strain the mixture through muslin, then simmer in a pan for 20 minutes, adding 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tsp caster sugar. Leave to cool.
Almond and hazelnut
These nutritional powerhouses are stuffed with goodness, including fibre, calcium and magnesium – and they make a tasty and versatile drink too.
To make your own, simply soak skinless nuts (you can also use hazel, Brazil, cashew or macadamia varieties) for 8-24 hours, changing the water at least once. Transfer a combination of one part nuts to two parts water to a blender, and mix on full power until you have a very smooth and creamy liquid. Strain through muslin, and dilute to taste.
Oat milk is becoming increasingly popular in coffee shops, because of its creamy taste and texture in drinks like lattes. There is a growing number of brands available to buy. Alternatively, rinse a cup of rolled oats in cold water, and leave them to soak in boiled water for 20 minutes. After draining and rinsing, you can blitz them with 750ml of cold water, until smooth.
Unlike cow’s milk, rice milk doesn’t contain cholesterol. Commercial brands are also often fortified with niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and iron, making it a good option, which works well for baking.
While homemade rice milk won’t be fortified, it is still a good, low fat, and tasty option. Toasting the rice first (either white or brown) gives it a nicer flavour – you can do this in a dry frying pan. Take it off the heat when it starts to darken. Cook the rice according to your usual method, then drain, before transferring to a blender with 650ml of cold water. Blend until smooth, then strain through a sieve to get rid of any remaining rice grains.
One of the most fashionable foodstuffs at the moment is coconut, with chefs and consumers turning to a variety of products in their droves, from yoghurt, ice ‘cream’ and oil to, of course, milk. This is a great option for tea and instant coffee – it doesn’t curdle, and it lightens your drink in the same way cow’s milk does. Depending on brand, it doesn’t have a strong, nutty flavour, so is an excellent starter option for those moving away from dairy. On top of all that, it’s stuffed with calcium and vitamin D.