There are many alternatives to cow’s milk available on the market. People may use these because they need to avoid cow’s milk in their diets because of cow’s milk allergy, or they simply may prefer the taste of nut or cereal milks to cow’s milk. Milk alternatives may be made from soy, grains (e.g rice and oat etc.) or nuts (e.g. almond). Milk alternatives have different nutritional profiles to cow’s milk, so it is worth checking the ingredients list and the nutrition information panel to see what you are buying.
Generally, nut and cereal milks are lower in calories and protein when compared with cow’s milk – this is not usually an issue for adults, but is a concern for babies and young children, particularly if they are following restricted diets. Some rice milks are fortified with chick pea, to boost their protein content.
Cow’s milk and other dairy foods are the main source of calcium in our diets – important for bone health. Cow’s milk has 120 mg calcium per 100 mL, and you should check that soy, grain and nut based milks have this amount of calcium added to them. This is important as not all milk alternatives on the market have calcium added to them.
If your child does not tolerate cow’s milk it is best to check with your doctor or dietitian which milk is best for them.