Growing up, nothing tasted better than a glass of milk accompanied by chocolate chip cookies. Lately, there’s been a growing trend of dairy-free milk alternatives. What’s up with that? How can someone give up milk? It’s thick, sweet, and savory taste is unbeatable. Yet, the public is substituting milk for dairy-free alternatives. Why? What are the benefits of dairy-free milk, and why the switch? Oregon Farm Brokers seeks to answer both of these questions.

A Dairy-Free History

Let’s begin with a little bit of dairy-free milk history. The earliest traces of dairy-free milk can be linked back to the North African drink called Horchata. This drink is composed of soaked, grounded, and sweetened tiger nuts. This recipe was taken to Iberia before the year 1000, a country which we now recognize as Spain. In addition, the first traces of almond milk can be connected to the 13th century. In the 14th century, China began to use soy milk. Moreover, Medieval England was also familiar with almond milk and used to create rice pudding frequently. In South and Southeast Asia, there are numerous accounts for using coconut milk or coconut cream for their delicious Curry recipes. 

Why Are People Switching To Dairy-Free Milk? 

We’ve done some research and will sum it up the main reasons: lactose intolerance, lifestyles, and ethical concerns.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance is concerned with the body’s inability to fully digest sugar, also known as the lactose in dairy products. This is typically caused by a deficiency of an enzyme in the body called lactase. The symptoms of being lactose intolerant are severely painful: abdominal cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. There is no cure for being lactose intolerant, but omitting dairy from your diet is crucial to eliminate symptoms. It is estimated that 30-50 million Americans are dairy intolerant. This leaves a large market for consumers who seek the creamy taste of milk, without the side effects.


6% of the U.S. population identify as vegans, and 8% identify as vegetarians. This indicates that there are 14% of Americans who prefer plant-based options. While vegans and vegetarians prefer plant-based options, the broader U.S. audience is also choosing dairy-free alternatives for the benefits. People are beginning to switch out milk in their everyday life with coffees, smoothies, ice cream, and more. Regular cow milk has been linked to increased acne, cholesterol, ovarian cancer, and weight gain. The public is beginning to take the initiative into their hand by picking products that omit unwanted side effects.


Ethical Concerns 

A common argument heard in regards to milk discourse is, no species drinks the milk of another species. The discussion continues by explaining that cows milk does fit the nutrient criteria for human needs and instead causes more damage. Most importantly, people stop drinking milk because of mass farming conditions for animals. Cows are often stored in small compartments with poor living conditions and are unethically raised. This drives the movement for milk alternatives and animal rights justice. 


Which Milk is the Best? 

If you’ve heard the ethical discourse surrounding milk and you want to choose a dairy-free alternative, we’re going to break down the most popular products and their nutrition value. We also recommend that if you don’t want to stop drinking milk but would like it sources ethically, do some research around your area and speak to a local farmer about purchasing milk. 

Almond Milk 

Almond Milk can easily be classified as one of the best milk alternatives. Its versatility is endless being compatible with cereal, smoothies, cookies, and more. Each serving has roughly 39 calories, 1 gram of protein, and 0.5 grams of fiber. You can also make your own Almond Milk at home by soaking almonds in water overnight, bleeding them, and straining the almonds in a cheesecloth.  


Soy Milk is thick and contains much of the protein found in cow’s milk. The taste of soy milk can be comparable to 1 or 2 percent of cow milk. One serving has 80 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of protein. We recommend substituting soy in your morning coffee for a thick, rich taste.  


We’ve heard it all our lives, oatmeal is healthy and full of nutrients. To break it down, Oatmilk has 120 calories per serving, 3 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber. Oatmilk, just like any other dairy-free alternative, is suitable to be placed in any food item where you would generally place dairy. This past year, the Oregon Farm Brookers team has been obsessed with oat milk in their coffee due to its thickness and filling taste.  

Finding the perfect milk can be a complex taste with a variety of options in-store. We hope this article helped you understand the history of milk-alternatives, why people are choosing them, and what milk options are the best options. If you happen to try any milk alternatives or make some at home, leave us a comment or tag us @OregonFarmBrokers

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