As with everything in life, extremes are never the solution. Almond milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk for the cows (and your health), but it’s not so great for the bee population (not to mention its intensive water consumption).So in the name of diversifying our sources of plant milk, and just in case you’re already bored of rice, soy, hemp, coconut and other assorted nut milk, we’re introducing you to two new kids on the dairy-free milk block. Meet oat milk and its lesser-known buddy, pea milk.
What’s the deal with pea milk?
Pea milk is also called pea-protein drink. Before you pull up your nose, you should know it tastes nothing like peas and shows no nauseating green colour since it’s made from yellow peas, not green peas. The peas aren’t soaked and pressed like with almond milk – instead it’s dried and milled into flour, which is then separated into its various components and blended with water, sunflower oil and salt, and fortified with vitamins. The liquid is a starchy, creamy off-white colour and suitable for those who have soy and nut allergies, as well as gluten intolerances.
Brands to look out for
The first brands to launch a pea milk were US-based brands Ripple (who received Silicon Valley investment) and Bolthouse Farms. It’s unknown when they will be available on SA shores.
Pea milk is as high in protein as cow’s milk (around 8 grams per cup) and higher in calcium. Word on the street is that the US brands will be fortifying their pea milks with vitamin B12 to assist vegans and vegetarians in obtaining sufficient amounts. Ripple Pea Milk is also said to include algal oil, a marine algae source of omega-3.(Important to note: the only reason cow’s milk and beef are B12 rich is because cows are supplemented, too. The sad truth is that the vast majority of our soil simply isn’t rich enough to offer a naturally high quantity of B12 from grazing alone.)
Why we like pea milk
Pea milk production and processing offers a far lower water usage and a kinder carbon footprint.
What’s the deal with oat milk?
Oat milk, as the name says, is a milk derived from whole oat grains with water. It’s high in carbohydrates and not a great option if you’re gluten intolerant. But the low carbon footprint and mild creamy flavour still make it a winner with lovers of plant milks.
Of all the plant milks, oat milk has the highest calorie profile – even though they’re natural sugars, it’s still something to consider. Oat milk is higher in riboflavin (Vit B2) than cow’s milk and is also usually fortified with additional vitamins. (Chocolate oat milk would make a great recovery drink after a workout.) Its thick, creamy consistency makes it ideal for warm dishes that require a bit of body, and it’s also great for hot chocolates and creamy coffees.
Brands to look out for
By now there are already a fair amount of oat milk brands on SA shelves, most notably Earth&Co, EcoMil, The Bridge, OatLy, Rude Health and the lastest oaty kid on the breakfast shelf, OKJA. OKJA offers the highest oat content (Italian oats) and no other preservatives or sweeteners – though oats have natural sugars, so you will taste a slight sweetness in it. One thing is for sure, plant milks aren’t going away. If anything, we’ll just get better and better at making them, and the planet (and our grandchildren) will thank us for it.