A Vegan’s Guide to Non-Dairy Milks

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More and more people are waking up to the cruel reality of the dairy industry, so the market for alternative non-dairy products is growing faster now than ever before. In the past two years alone, the non-dairy milk market has grown by a staggering 155 per cent in the UK!

Producing plant-based milks takes a lot less water and land and results in much less carbon dioxide than producing dairy milks. We’ve put together a guide to some of the best vegan milks and how to use them.

Almond Milk


Almond milk is made from ground almonds mixed with water. Its rich texture and slightly nutty taste make it delicious in lattes. It’s also great for blending in smoothies. Almond milk is low in fat, sugar, and calories and naturally high in many vitamins and minerals.

Coconut Milk


Coconut milk is made by soaking the white flesh of coconuts in hot water. The cream rises to the top and is skimmed off, leaving the milk behind. Coconuts are highly nutritious, containing vitamins C, B1 and B6. The milk is high in saturated fat, though, so it’s best consumed in moderation, and it’s also one of the more expensive vegan milks. But despite being low in sugar, coconut milk is quite sweet-tasting, meaning it’s perfect for desserts, cakes and smoothies. It’s also an important ingredient in Thai and Indian curries.

Hazelnut Milk


Hazelnut milk has a roasted nutty flavour that goes well with hot chocolate. Some speciality coffee houses are moving towards hazelnut milk because it heats and foams better than almond or soy. It’s high in fat and calories but worth it! It’s also loaded with B vitamins and vitamin E as well as folic acid and the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which helps keep cholesterol and blood pressure down.

Hemp Milk


The seeds of the hemp plant, a relative of cannabis but without the psychoactive chemicals, are one of the best vegan protein sources in the world, containing nine essential amino acids and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp milk has a sweet, nutty taste that works very well in tea.

Oat Milk


Oat milk, which is often locally grown and produced in the UK, is made by soaking the hulled oats in water. The end result is sweet and delicious but more caloric than many of the other plant-based milks. Beta-glucan, found in oat fibre, can actually lower blood cholesterol levels. One serving will also give you 10 per cent of your recommended daily amount of iron, which is very important for vegans. It heats well and doesn’t curdle, making it good for cooking. It should be avoided by anyone with a gluten intolerance.

Rice Milk


Rice milk is made from boiled rice, brown rice syrup and brown rice starch. In taste tests, rice milk has been shown to be more popular than soya milk. It’s sweet and not as thick as most of the other plant-based milks, and it also is much lower in fat, but it doesn’t contain very much protein.

Soya Milk


A complete protein source, soya milk is one of the most popular plant-based milks of all and often the only one you’ll find in mainstream coffee shops. It goes well in espresso-based drinks because of its creamy texture and neutral flavor. It has about half the fat of cows’ milk, a third of the calories and none of the cruelty!


What’s your favourite dairy-free milk? Join the debate by leaving a comment below.

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  • NeiMac commented on January 28, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Obviously personal preference will determine choice, but having tried all of them I find Oat Milk to be the tastiest.

    • jillphipps phipps commented on January 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      i like aalmond milk very much . but to be honest not keen on any in tea

  • Cheryl commented on January 29, 2015 at 3:27 am

    What’s really disappointing though is when you read the label on some of these… the first or second ingredient oftentimes is oil!

    Soy milk… I drink it and the next day my face is breaking out in pimples. Soy yoghurt… ditto.

    Would love to know what other people experience and what specific brands are junk-free… just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s always as golden as we’d like.

    • Sarah commented on February 25, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      Soy Milk is actually quite difficult to buy as most of the well known brands process it thoroughly meaning that it most likely has GMO in it. Unprocessed soy milks tends to last a short amount of time (within days) even in the fridge as it is real food. I would recommend almond milk on a day to day basis, however unprocessed soy milk in consideration won’t hurt you at all.

  • maretia rowe commented on January 29, 2015 at 7:42 am

    I live in Spain and it’s difficult to find a lot of vegan dairy alternatives. I have however managed to find almond milk, rice milk, oat milk and soya milk. My favourite is soya, I find it less sweet than the others and it’s great in drinks, rice puddings, smoothies etc.

    • Firdy commented on January 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Just make it yourself in batches for a week

  • Stella commented on January 29, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Trying to give up dairy but still not found a good substitute to have in tea – any suggestions please?

    • Anne commented on January 30, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Everyone’s tastes are different, but we reckon hemp milk is delicious in tea!

      • Janet ietrasz commented on November 13, 2015 at 6:59 pm

        I have Alpro whole bean soya milk in tea and it’s lovely

  • Milka commented on January 29, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I have stopped drinking soy milk as it was giving me bad break outs. Switched to almond now.

  • Craig commented on January 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I’ve been veggie going on vegan for the past couple of years after I met my long-time-vegan other half – we drink Soya milk almost exclusively but just bought a smoothie machine so will be branching out to try almond milk and the rest. Quite excited!

  • Barbara Lillford commented on February 1, 2015 at 2:25 am

    After trying many different types and brands of non-dairy ‘milks’ to go in tea, I have finally found the one which is perfect for me: Sainsbury’s Basics Sweetened UHT Soya Drink. This does not curdle in hot, strong tea, and has no intrusive taste of its own; you just taste tea! And it’s cheap! I am hooked, and recommend that anyone wanting a neutral tasting, non-dairy ‘milk’ for tea and coffee, should try this one.

    • cathy commented on February 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Is it fatning because im on a diet i want alternative to skimmed milk.thanks catherine pledger.

  • Jill Phillip commented on February 1, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Really want to give up dairy but steer clear of anything soya as massive soya plantation are a large contributory factor in the destruction of rainforests.
    Would be very interested in hearing how others justify consuming soya: is there such as thing as sustainable soya, for example; if so, where can it be sourced?
    Interested in any relevant info as I’d like to see the ‘other side’ of the argument.

    • Callum commented on October 28, 2015 at 10:21 am

      Around 98% of soya growth is for feeding livestock, so vegans enjoying soya milk is a drop in the ocean when it comes to deforestation. I haven’t done the numbers, but I daresay that vegans not eating meat and dairy “saves” more deforestation than drinking soya milk creates.

  • rose commented on February 10, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    KOKO DAIRY FREE is brilliant! … made from coconuts, i think it’s the most versatile non dairy milk available. i use it in everything. it doesn’t split when heated, so it’s great in tea and coffee as well as all cooking etc. ideal if you’re watching the calories too; it’s only 2% fat! chocolate and strawberry is also available, both are yummy 🙂

  • Tigernutpeople commented on July 9, 2015 at 12:29 am

    You forgot to include tiger nut milk, or horchata . It’s a delicious and nutritious milk made from tiger nuts or chufa. Healthiest if you make it at home, check out the recipe on our rècipe blog 🙂

  • jules houghton commented on August 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    I have Hemp milk for tea/coffee.
    I have Coconut/Vanilla Rice milk
    On cereal and smoothies but I will try any that’s available

  • London Vegan Bird commented on August 11, 2015 at 9:45 am

    So many options now; it’s great and I love that most of these are now offered in supermarkets too. My faves are Brown Rice Milk for lattes and Almond Milk for everything else! Oat milk is also great for making homemade muesli!

  • Sarah commented on November 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    I have tried almond milk, coconut milk and soya milk so far. I didn’t like the almond milk in my latte or tea – I found it much too bitter and had a horrible aftertaste – but I’m not sure if I bought the lite version, because after reading this, that’s obviously not how others feel. I like the coconut milk on cereal, although I find it a bit too sweet in latte and tea and I wouldn’t want to use it in everything because of the higher saturated fat level and I have to watch my weight! I use soya milk in most drinks now – but after reading the above comments, I’ll be looking to try some hemp milk and KOKO Dairy-Free soon aswell. Thanks for the info. 🙂

  • Richa Rajoriya commented on January 3, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Its great that PETA is working with heart and soul for our fellow innocent creatures. Ya its difficult to switch to vegan diet… but wanna give it a try!

  • Sally Anne Hubbard commented on January 9, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I like Silk Soy Vanilla milk. I also use So Delicious coconut milk for my tea. Both delicious and cruelty free.

  • Mo Ray commented on January 11, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I have had real difficulty finding a suitable alternative for coffee – everything that I used tended to ‘split’. Having experimented I have arrived at unsweetened soya milk – and letting the coffee cool before adding soya. Just involves a little patience!
    Oat milk is great for muesli and other cereals.
    Based on the information you’ve given, I think I’ll give hemp a try too.

  • Angela Day commented on January 13, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    At last I have found a dairy free milk alternative that works in tea, no funny smell or taste and no curdling -its KOKO coconut milk; and unlike other coconut milk brands, it doesn’t smell or taste of coconut in tea (although I like the taste of coconut, but not in tea); – in fact its just like milk milk. Hoorah!

    • Fiona Gardner commented on January 21, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      Agree. KOKO is super in tea. I love Hazelnut milk in hot chocolate, oat milk (and oat cream) on porridge and cereals. I really enjoy almond milk in coffee and in some sauces. I use soya in baking.

    • Goddessence commented on February 27, 2016 at 10:18 am

      I’m in Far Northern (remote) Australia. I’ve never heard of that brand lically? Where do you get it? Thanks

  • Goddessence commented on February 5, 2016 at 12:43 am

    Please help. I used organic fresh almond milk in my tea and it curdled and didn’t taste nice. I love my cup of daily sweet black tea with milk and rice syrup (I used to use honey). Which non dairy Organic milk works best in tea?
    I only want a Fresh organic preferred alternative – I do not eat anything that comes in a Tetra Pak or has more than a few natural ingredients. Thanks for any help.

  • Goddessence commented on February 5, 2016 at 12:51 am

    I became committed to a vegetarian diet at around 4 when I discovered the link between Sunday Roast and dear little lambs. Forced to eat flesh until I left home, I was liberated to choose a vegetarian lifestyle. I thought it was ok to eat dairy because cows weren’t killed. How mistaken I was! Discovering the obscene cruelty in the dairy ‘industry’ has profoundly changed me and the thought of popping grief stricken tortured ‘dairy’ in my mouth is now deeply disturbing and physically nauseating. As a mother, I deeply empathise with the mother grief of all my bovine sisters.

  • Rebecca Campbell commented on June 1, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    I have 2 joint favourites. Rice milk and coconut.

  • Jane commented on August 2, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    What PETA doesn’t mention here is that many producers of soy milk, like Alpro for example, are owned by companies who are some of the largest dairy producers on Earth. Alpro used to be owned by Dean Foods – the USA’s second biggest producers of dairy products. It is now owned by the appalling Danone. Also huge dairy producers and also liars. Their so-called health-changing products are full of sugar and other rubbish but people believe the hype. We need a list, please, of what milk alternatives are actually ETHICALLY VEGAN.

    • Fi commented on August 31, 2016 at 11:04 am

      My thoughts exactly!!! What’s the point of going vegan then buying vegan products that are harmful to animals and environment. PETA also fails to mention the environmental disaster that Almond milk is, I quick search on almonds, monoculture and environmental damage is recommended. I think the whole point of veganism is ethics so we need to be careful where we source our food. http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/buyersguides/drink/soyanon-dairymilk.aspx

  • Richard commented on September 23, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    I think its great to see such a variety of ways to avoid dairy, if not for the ethical but for better human health reasons. The only thing that concerns me more than the caloric content of certain drinks are the additives. Ingredients such as Monopotassium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate and stabilizers such as Gellan Gum. Perhaps its because I have not done my homework on these substances but they don’t seem the sort of thing I would want my body to ingest, let alone on a regular basis. It seems to me that the best way to stay safe with food is to stay as close to nature as possible. Studying these different dairy alternatives at my local store I have gathered that oat milk gives you more for less in terms of vitamins, satiety and the knowledge that you haven’t slipped any of these suspect chemicals through the net, with the added bonus that oat milk in comparison to a ‘clean’ version of, say almond milk is less than half the price.

  • Darren Collis commented on October 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I have read from many sources that ASDA soy milk is not vegan due to the sourcing of vitamin D3 (they only say vitamin D on packs). D3 is almost exclusively sourced from animal sources and therefore very rarely suitable for vegans. If a label states D2, then that ingredient is vegan friendly. There must be many vegans unwittingly consuming D3 poorly labelled as just D.

  • Alexandra Rushbrook commented on November 15, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    please can you tell me more about cashew milk thank you

  • Carol Wilburn commented on November 23, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    What about vanilla milk. Is it taken from cows?

  • Jacqui Goekjian commented on November 30, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Love the video about the dogs milk.. so funny. Worth remembering to try to source alternative milks with added calcium or take a calcium supplement.

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