Q: I have a question about milk. What’s really ‘better’ regards to soya, rice, almond, low fat, full creams and all the other funny titles. I want to benefit my body and have low impact on the environment when I have milk in my coffee?
A: An important question! I personally had to deal with this exact situation a few years ago. My husband and two kids go through 3litres of cows milk a day!!! After extensive research, my deduction was as it always is ‘if it doesn’t look like it does in nature, ditch it!’
I have it on very good authority (a dairy farmer) that the milk we consider ‘long life’ can be up to two weeks old before it gets bottled! EEK! Not to mention the process it undergoes once it leaves the dairy, how long it lasts in those cartons on the shelves before it is bought and stored in the cupboard for weeks as it gets used and the stress the over worked cow is put under, that is far from natural! Think about how long fresh milk lasts, a few days max! So here is a breakdown of the different types of milk, the good, the bad and the ugly on each one..
- Cows milk: the good, obviously great calcium content and convenient. The bad and the ugly, difficult to digest and the cause of many gastric, nasal and allergy related issues. Dairy cows need up to 110Litres of water while lactating, oi! Heavy on the environment. Best if you can buy directly from a farmer or farm stall nearby, who gives it to you in a bucket. Cream and all! If you are worried about germs, boil the milk for a few minutes and allow to cool! Your milk should only last a few days! If you have to buy store bought cows milk, look for bottled and glass jars where possible (not long life), always full cream (always! I will explain this further on). Look out for grass-fed cows and if at all possible, low-heat pasteurized which at least leaves it more natural. If you struggle with stomach issues, there are lactose reduced options.
- Soy milk: the good, it is plant based and low allergy level. Great for people with dairy allergy, good source of protein, Vit A, D and B12. The bad and the ugly, normally GMO..yuck! and high intake can mess with your hormone levels a teensy bit. Find a non-GMO brand and you are good to go! Always natural, never flavoured. There are brands that make choc and strawberry etc..You really don’t want to know what gets added to make those tasty flavours.
- Rice milk: The good, it is considered the lowest on the allergy scale which makes it an awesome option for those with dairy sensitivity, very easy on your gut! It is plant based, kind to nature. The bad and the ugly, very expensive! Often sweetened. yuck! It contains no natural calcium and Vit D, so has to be fortified. Again, look for organic rice milk and check the ingredient list. Anything you can’t pronounce, should be reason to drop the carton and run!
- Almond milk: The good, again, no animals were used in the making of this milk, contains no cholesterol and no lactose, which means it is great for people who suffer from IBS and allergies. It is a healthy fat, has high Vit D and A in. The bad and the ugly, it isn’t a good protein source! It contains no calcium (unless it is specifically fortified, eish!). In short, look out for unsweetened, fortified organic almond milk.
- Goat milk: the good, very low allergenic! If bought from a farmer, very natural. It aids inflammation of the gut. Goats are more environmentally friendly, they require less space and food than a gigantic cow! It has a genetic make up similar to human milk, so much easier for us to digest and absorb! It has high calcium and amino acid content! Goats aren’t often treated with hormone boosting substances to increase milk production. The bad and the ugly, only really available 6months of the year (goats have to rest for 6months, meh meh), it has a weird taste hahaha. Can you tell this is my favourite option? If only my family would agree with me, meh!
- Low fat vs fat free vs full cream: As mentioned above, and sticking to my motto ‘if it doesn’t look like it does in nature, ditch it!’ always, always full cream. I am always more concerned about what goes into making these products lower fat than my concern for calories!!! If you consider what has to happen to the milk to reduce the fat as well, gross! Sugar is added when fat is reduced, to add flavour. Read the ingredient list, less is more! Natural all the way, if you can’t pronounce the word, run! Drink milk as it would come out the cow, or almond or soybean, untreated, not tampered with..FREEEE!
We are in the process of shopping for a cow (only because my clan won’t budge on the goat milk issue!). Mainly due to the fact that we use 3litres a day and live 2 hours from the nearest town, but also because we are paranoid about how far from natural milk, milk has become! Buying a cow is obviously not an option for everyone, unless you have a massive backyard and very tolerant neighbours, but hopefully the info above will help you to choose a suitable healthier and environmentally friendlier option for you!