Plant-Based Beverages

Thursday, November 14, 2019

From the grocery store to the local coffee shop. Dairy alternatives are everywhere, and consumers are eager to embrace them.

Plant-based milks now make up 10% of the overall dairy market, while per capita consumption of milk has dropped 13% in the US and 4.1% in Europe.1 In the UK, Sales of fresh dairy alternatives have risen by 31% from £48 million in 2013 to an estimated £63 million in 2014.2

In general, you can substitute any plant-based milk for dairy milk 1:1, except in recipes where the protein plays an important structural role (e.g. baked applications). You can also try combining beverages like soy or oat and pea to provide a more complete protein.

You may also want to consider the differences in flavour and nutrition. Many milk alternatives have added sugar to mask the "beany" or "cerealy" flavours. In many countries, dairy milk may also be fortified with key nutrients (like vitamins A & D), so look for options that have no (or low) added sugars and contain the same fortified nutrients as milk.



Oat beverage is the best milk alternative for creating latte art.


Milk vs. the Alternatives

Based on 100g of product

Cow’s 2% Milk
Good source of complete protein and other essential nutrients. Unsuitable for those with milk allergy, and limited/avoided with lactose intolerance.

Good source of complete protein, contains soy isoflavones. Unsuitable for those with soy allergy.

Good source of protein, but does not contain all essential amino acids (incomplete).

Contains soluble fibre associated with heart-healthy benefits. May contain gluten, so those with coeliac disease/gluten intolerance should avoid.

High in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. Low and incomplete source of protein.

Low and incomplete source of protein. Contains healthy fats from nuts. Unsuitable for those with nut allergies.

Not a good source of protein, and does not contain all essential amino acids (incomplete).



Grains and legumes tend to be complementary proteins. Mixing rice and pea beverages can form a complete source of protein. And soy beverage is a complete source on its own.


  1. FAIRR Sustainable Protein DD09,  Feb. 2018.
  2. British Nutrition Foundation, Protein.

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