Plant-milk versus dairy milk

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A story written by Leslie Beck in the Globe and Mail newspaper this week caught my attention. It’s about kids drinking plant-based milk over dairy milk. A big topic for many parents.

First of all, I’ll say that in my experience, goat’s milk is better tolerated than cow’s milk because of the protein structure. Cow’s milk comes from large animals with large protein structure.

Milk offers protein, fat, and nutrients like vitamin A, D, B, zinc, and calcium – all important nutrients – but there are more that are needed for all the growth and development at a young age. 

I see a lot of kids who can’t tolerate or just won’t drink milk, so parents have to find alternatives. Most will eat cheese and yogurt, so that’s a much better option. If they can’t tolerate dairy altogether, a more specific diet needs to be created. Full fat cheese and yogurt (unflavoured) still have the naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins and fat for better absorption of vitamin D and K (if organic or grass-fed).

Other calcium-rich options are sardines or salmon with bones, cooked bok choi, almonds, sesame seeds, cooked kale or broccoli. To lesser amounts than a glass of milk but a healthier option with other minerals and vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.

Plant-based milk like almond, cashew, coconut or rice offer about 2g of protein versus 16g from the same amount of milk. Hemp milk offers more at 6g per two cups.

Overall calories are less in plant-based milk too. Lower fat has a lot to do with this and which milk is chosen, homemade versus store bought also plays a part. There’s a recipe in my book Sprout Right for making homemade almond milk that’s really easy. Cashew milk is even easier because it doesn’t need straining.

While milk is thought to be very important from age two to eight, there certainly are other options to ensure that all protein, fat and nutrient needs are met with broader health benefits.

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