We’re seeing a seismic change in the way people approach plant-based foods today, even in Singapore, where more and more people are turning to the plant-based milks in their daily lives.

What were once reserved for vegans and tree-hugging hippies have now found their way into the mainstream, more so during a time when the topic of sustainability rests at the tip of the food industry’s tongue. 

But even before Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat soared to fame, plant-based milk alternatives were already making its rounds in kitchens and cafes all over the world. Cow’s milk is considered a staple in many people’s diets, but lactose intolerance, dietary restrictions, and ethical preferences have led people to discover the beauty in non-dairy options too. 

Plus, plant-based milks are are a lot better for the environment compared to traditional cow’s milk — they have a much smaller impact on the Earth compared to dairy milk when it comes to land and water use, and they generate lower amounts of greenhouse gases too.

In light of Earth Day, we break down the most commonly seen plant-based milks in Singapore, what you should look out for during your next purchase, and where to shop the best versions.

What to look out for in plant-based milk

There couldn’t be a better time to switch to plant-based milk alternatives, especially with the sheer variety in the market today. However, not all were created the same, and there are some things you’ll need to look out for before making your purchase. 

Sugar content

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Choose unflavoured and unsweetened options if you can help it. Added sugars like fructose and maltodextrin are often added to enhance flavour and texture. Some brands also add sugar into ‘unflavoured’ variations, so always go through the ingredients list.

Additives

Because plant-based milk is often thinner and lighter in texture, additives such as salt, carrageenan and vegetable gums are usually added to achieve a thicker and smoother texture while giving the milk a longer shelf life. While not detrimental to your health, these thickening agents have been known to cause inflammation and gastrointestinal issues for some, which negates the benefits of adopting this dairy-free lifestyle.

Water content

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Call it blasphemy but there’s not actually a lot of almonds in your store-bought beverage. Commercial almond milk is mostly water — more specifically, almost 98 percent. The remaining two percent constitutes only about five almonds worth of juice in every cup. 

Brands like Nutty Bruce up the almond content from two to 10 percent in its organic range, making it a better option if you’re looking to make a real difference in your diet. Otherwise, make your own with this recipe.

Nutritional profile

If you’re looking for a milk alternative as a source of nutrition, find one that has a similar protein and carbohydrate count to cow’s milk — that’s 8g and 12g respectively. 

Most non-dairy milks are also fortified with vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in animal products, making them a good source for vegans who lack these essential supplements in their daily diet. 

(Hero image credit: Isabell Winter/Unsplash)

This story was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore

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