Vegetable milks: trend or real alternative to replace cow’s milk?

Intolerances, allergies, vegetarian, vegan or vegan diets... cow's milk is increasingly "ignored" by some consumers and the market is at half mast. It is accused of being very indigestible, of being too heavy and even raises debates about the growth of children. In the face of these persistent debates, plant milks are coming in and invading the beverage market.

Vegetable... "milks"?

They are called "plant milks" when they should be called "beverages of plant origin" because the word "milk" is normally reserved for milk given by female mammals. Previously, plant milks were more reserved for vegetarians, vegans or consumers who had to find substitutes for cow's milk out of necessity and for health reasons (allergies). Nowadays, alternative plant milks are no longer the preserve of specialist shops and can be found on the shelves of ordinary supermarkets.  We consume them for their various and varied virtues, we also learn how to cook them. Vegetable milks have their place in our refrigerators and in our daily food life. Who are these vegetable milks? They are generally obtained from legumes such as soya, pulses such as rice, spelt or oats, or oilseeds such as hazelnut, almond or sesame. How are they made? There are several different processes: the powder of the raw material is simply rehydrated or the milk is obtained by diluting the fruit in water. Some vegetable milks are obtained after a very slow cooking process, others are obtained after grinding and infusion of the fruits .

Vegetable milks and health

Cow's milk has had a broad back in recent years, it has been accused in turn of various problems: intolerances, digestive problems, ENT or bone problems, asthma, skin diseases, joint pain, cause of obesity... Why these debates? Because it is important to know that we human beings are the only mammals to continue to drink milk as adults. To top it all off, some health specialists believe that we can do without cow's milk and that our modern diet can meet all our nutritional needs without milk. For younger children, it has been proven that vegetable milks can be a good alternative if a mother can no longer breastfeed. While breast milk remains the "perfect" milk for the growth and development of a child's immunity, plant milks can be given as substitutes because they are often less rich and less fatty than cow's milk. For example, almond milk is one of the most digestible milks for children, whereas soya milk should be moderated according to the age of the children, because of its richness in isoflavones, molecules very similar to women's oestrogens.

The "plus" of vegetable milks

So finally, why do we like plant milks so much? What are their virtues? They do indeed have dietetic and nutritional virtues: they are more digestible than cow's milk because they do not create the phenomenon of "putrefaction" in our intestines (therefore no bloating, digestive problems or other gases), they are rich in unsaturated fatty acids (therefore "good" fats for health), they are rich in vitamins and minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus), they contain fibers that promote satiety and transit, they are good for our heart and do not contain cholesterol.

Which vegetable milk should I choose?

If the advantage of vegetable milks is diversification, then you can vary the pleasures and virtues. Almond milk and chestnut milk are suitable for people suffering from digestive problems, rice milk is particularly appreciated by children because it is soft and slightly sweet, sportsmen and women appreciate hazelnut milk for its energetic virtues, cooks appreciate coconut milk to diversify their recipes? As far as cooking is concerned, any recipe does not go with any vegetable milk. Do you feel like pancakes? Opt for soy or almond milk instead. If you want to make a gratin or a béchamel sauce, choose soy or oat milk. For pastries your allies will be coconut milk and oat milk. For exotic savoury recipes based on vegetables or fish, choose coconut milk. To make sweet smoothies like smoothies prefer coconut milk again or oat milk. In the morning at breakfast, opt for delicacy and nutrition with rice or hazelnut milk.
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