Dairy-free milk alternatives are taking off in a big way across Australia, with the nation becoming increasingly aware of the effects of the dairy industry on our health and the environment. Substitutes for traditional cow’s milk not only taste great but are stacked with added nutritional health benefits.

If you are in the market for a non-dairy alternative to add to your morning coffee or use in your afternoon smoothie, there are plenty of options out there including soy milk. Soy milk in Australia has always been a popular choice and with good reason — it’s delicious, nutritious and can be enjoyed by people who are both lactose-free and vegan.

In case you were not already convinced, keep reading to discover a little more about the benefits of introducing soy into your diet.

Taste

Whilst it can vary between brands, soy milk typically has a mild and creamy flavour. It can be a good dairy substitute for dishes and drinks that are typically savoury in flavour, including coffee and oatmeal.

There are also many flavoured options of soy milk available on the market including vanilla and chocolate. Be sure to check the nutritional content of these types of drinks, as they can contain added sugar.

Nutrition

One of the top reasons people make the switch to soy milk is the added nutritional benefits. Soy milk is a close substitute for cow’s milk in terms of calcium and protein but it also contains half the number of calories, fats and carbohydrates when compared to its dairy counterpart.

Not only is soy milk perfect for those who are vegetarian or vegan, but it’s also an excellent substitute for those of us who are lactose intolerant. Soy milk is also often recommended for people suffering from high cholesterol and heart disease, due to its low-fat content.

Use

A great advantage of soy milk is the wide variety of ways in which you can incorporate it into your diet. Soy milk can be used as a substitute for dairy milk in any of your favourite recipes — cupcakes, muffins, pancakes and more! It’s a great idea to use soy in your baking as you can then be sure that your sweet treats are suitable for vegetarian, vegan and lactose intolerant friends.

It also works well in beverages. Soy milk can be added to smoothies, iced and regular coffee. It is a top choice of baristas due to its creamy consistency and the fact it is reasonably easy to froth and foam, particularly when compared to other non-dairy alternatives.

Production

Soy milk is made from the soybean, which is native to eastern Asia. An estimated 260 million tonnes of soybeans are grown worldwide every year, with 10% of crops being used for human consumption. This includes soy milk, tofu and soy meat alternatives.

Soy milk is made by soaking soybeans in water for several hours, grinding them, boiling the mixture and filtering the remaining particles. Water, sugar, oil, vitamins and additional flavours may then be added, depending on the type of soy milk that you purchase.

With food production being responsible for around 25% of worldwide greenhouse gases, many of us are looking for ways we can reduce our environmental impact through the types of food that we eat. For example, it is estimated that the milk in your coffee accounts for two-thirds of the beverage’s carbon footprint.

A 2018 study by Oxford University found that cow’s milk had at least three times the environmental impact of any non-dairy milk, which is why switching to soy milk is a simple and effective decision you can make to reduce your environmental impact. Soy milk in Australia is readily available in supermarkets and cafes, and uses less than a third of the water needed to produce dairy milk.

Other options

Soy milk is not the only non-dairy alternative that is gaining traction in Australia. There are a wide variety of different options out there, each with their own unique taste, nutritional content and environmental rating.

The most popular of these include:

Almond milk:

Almond milk comes with a distinct and delicious nutty flavour and a particularly creamy texture. It is a nutritious, low-calorie drink that usually contains added calcium, vitamin E and vitamin D. Like soy milk, almond milk can be added to all your normal dishes and is an excellent option in coffee.

Coconut milk:

Coconut milk is derived from the white flesh of coconuts. It has a thick consistency and is a very popular ingredient in dishes derived from south-east Asia. A high-calorie food, coconut milk is a great choice in smoothies and oatmeal.

There’s a variety of reasons you might be considering switching to a non-dairy milk alternative. Your doctor may have recommended it, you may be concerned about the impact of your food choices on the environment or perhaps you simply enjoy the great taste. Whatever your reason, soy milk in Australia is more readily available than ever before, so be sure to pick up a carton on your next trip to the supermarket.

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