Several beverages and milk substitutes now line grocery shelves. There are versions of almonds, rice, hemp, oats, etc. The variety has not ceased to amaze us! Overview of these products and how to find your way around.
Let’s talk protein
Our good old cow’s milk seems to have lost a lot of interest among sports customers. Yet, it’s nutritional value is almost irreplaceable. First came soy milk, especially recommended for people who are intolerant to lactose (the sugar in milk), then came all the others in addition to the added flavors. When looking at these beverages in general, the only equivalent to milk is the original soy beverage, in terms of calories, protein, carbohydrates and fat. Other drinks will be lower in protein.
In fact, companies like Natura clearly state it on their packaging, including for the almond drink: “Is not a source of protein”. They cannot therefore adequately replace cow’s milk, and even less in recovery after a sustained effort where protein intake is very important.
Another new kid on the market? A-2 milk, a cow’s milk in which the protein A1, also called beta-casein A1, has been removed. This drink is intended for people who think they have lactose intolerance due to intestinal discomfort, but who are rather intolerant to this infamous A1 protein. Please note, this milk is not a Quebec product, but rather a New Zealand brand.
The war against milk or the war against transformed products?
We have been waging war against milk for several years now and at the same time, we have been waging war against transformed and processed products. When we look at the list of ingredients in milk substitutes, we can find: carrageenan, guar gum, xanthan gum, etc. which are binding and thickening agents used in commercial sauces and dressings. Why isn’t it in the milk? Because cow’s milk is simply less processed. It is therefore important to be informed so that you can make an informed choice about the content of these products.
What do the claims mean?
Pay attention to the following terms which can be confusing or can direct you to the best choice to make for your needs:
- “Fortified drink“: This means that to meet the nutritional values of cow’s milk, traders add vitamins and minerals which are not naturally present in the product. Like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 as well as many others. However, you must stir well before drinking, otherwise a small lumpy concentrate will end up in the last glass. Among other things, a vegetable drink enriched with vitamin B12 will be very interesting for vegans, who have very few sources of B12 in their diet.
- “Cholesterol free” A glass of 2% milk (250ml) contains 15-20mg of cholesterol. This is not much for the maximum recommended intake of 300 mg / day. Don’t think that milk is a high source of cholesterol. The skim and 1% versions contain even less (5-10mg).
- “Gluten-Free” Milk is gluten-free, so this claim is just a marketing stunt.
In addition, if you have any concerns about the various myths surrounding milk, be aware that the Dairy Farmers of Canada have a whole myths and facts section on milk intended for these facts.
A quick tip: at least choose Canadian milk by looking for the little blue cow logo on dairy products in grocery stores.
So… what choice do we have to make?
The idea is not to convince you to choose one product over another. Rather, we encourage you to choose a variety of milk and vegetable drinks, as well as use them at the appropriate times.
For example, cow’s milk or soy beverage will be more relevant as a snack (it’s a very filling liquid!) or post-workout snack due to it’s high protein content. On the other hand, to accompany a meal, to complement a smoothie that already contains protein (like whey powder or yogurt) or to put in your coffee, any other plant-based drink can be delicious!
Finally, rest assured: if you do not have an intolerance or allergy to milk, it is not necessary to substitute it. Don’t force yourself to drink something you don’t like. Conversely, if you love plant-based drinks, we strongly encourage you to broaden your horizons and experiment with the different drinks available on the market. The important thing is that your cookie has something delicious to be dunked into 😉