Vegan milks are great alternatives to dairy milk for individuals transitioning their lifestyles into a plant base lifestyle. Vegan milk gains popularity yet no one exactly clarifies the potential side effects to dairy-free milk yet.
There has been some misconceptions and unrealistic expectations in what plant base milks can do. But in order to get an understanding, we should be aware of the best replacement for dairy nutrition. Is it for dairy free recipes? Is it for nutrition purposes? Or just to simply drink as a beverage? This sheds light on how to reap the most amount of benefits and not increase the risk of the side effects mentioned below.
The most popular dairy alternatives are coconut, cashew, oats, and almond with varying ingredients to mimic a creamier consistency to sweet and unsweetened for taste. The most popular brands that are available to most households are: Oatly, Almond Breeze, Califa Farms, Silk, Planet Oat, and Chobani.
I’ve noticed brands tend to target customers with low price points while sacrificing the quality of their ingredients to mimic dairy milk to offer to toddler, the vegan population, and some people just don’t like milk. Are companies taking advantage knowing our current resources are unstable to cater to all? I don’t know but we should analyze. Let’s talk about it then!
11 Detailed side effects to “Vegan” Dairy
Poor ingredient choice. Brands typically want to meet the demands of the customer. What’s sacrificed are the ingredients for affordability and sales.
Poor ingredient choices are cheap, easy to source, and quickens the shipments process. Low quality ingredients means a cheaper product for households to afford. Is this a good thing? It can be. As in long term it impacts a population striving to live healthier and consciously through health.
When I was on the plant base milk wave, I was excited about the options available by the expense of my EBT. Sugar, gums, artificial flavors, preservatives, on top of fortified vitamins would dominate the ingredient secrion. Like why’s there 10 ingredients for a beverage that’s supposed to be nut water?!
Fortified vitamins. Vitamins D2, A, and E to minerals like calcium are commonly supplemented in alternative dairy although there’s growing evidence of its metabolic effects differ from vitamins naturally occuring in foods. For example, modern literature suggests D2 toxicity is more common than the public think and thus incresses risk of hypercalcemia (a build up of calcium in the blood).
During my research I was very curious as to how fortified vitamins and supplements act in the body of eumelanin people. Geechee descendents and other populations has signs of metabilizingg vitamin D and calcium supplements that increases our risk of cancer and other bodily disorders. Receiving our nutrients from the source is one of the easiest tasks we can do depending on ones location, budget, and resources.
Sugar. Sugar is usually listed in the first 7 ingredients and can make milks incredibly sweet. Sugar is linked to oral microbiom disruptions, yeast infections, cause metabolic diseases, and worsen symptoms in neurological disorders. Often times this ingredient is used to enhance taste. Soms brands may not use sugar but sugar alternatives; however it does not change its affects on the body and how consumers use them as a morning beverage or on sensitive diets.
I talk about it often but food combining is extremely important. Most Americans use plant milk the same way we’d use it for dairy. But if we are adding sugary plant milk to sugary cereal, or drinking it first thing in the morning. What do you think it’s feeding? Yeast. And then it starves the beneficial bacteria in the gut if frequently indulging in sugar. So I always recommend getting the non-sweetened version and if sweetness is a must using sweet fruits like soaked dates, raw honey, or lucuma powder that has additional benefits outside of creating insulin spikes.
Gums. Guar, xanthan, arabic gum, locust bean, and carrageeean are some of the most commonly used gums, used as emulsifiers and stabilizers, in dairy free produce. In excessive amounts and among those with gut sensitivities, gums are linked to allergies, bowel syndrome, and metabolic disorders in adults and children alike.
Found in snacks, pastas, coconut milks, powders, and more gums are offically added to everything. This truly bothered me considering a lot of these items are in my price point. So I worked on reducing what I can and afford to leave on the shelf for health purposes. While in moderation these gums can be benefical to promote bowel movements, in excess it can do the opposite and increase our chances of constipation and abdominal pains. So I personally rather avoid unless I’m using it myself as quality of the gums matter too.
Artificial Extracts. Extracts are known to contain plant compounds that acts as antioxidants or exhibit healing properties to its user. However the food industry do not use it in that way and use synthetic and cheap extracts for robust flavor. Like vanilla for example, it offers no botanical compounds to improve health. So why eat it if I am not intentionally gaining from it? Knowing it increases risks of allergies and other symptoms caused me to leave it alone too. Other terms for artificial extracts are “artificial flavors” or “natural flavors”.
Risk of Nutrient Deficiency or Toxicity. The individuals heavily consume fortified diets, there are risks of deficiencies and toxicities due to not knowing its source and how it metabolizes in the body. Studies has shown anti-nutrients in plant milks that prevents necessary mineral absorption such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, iron,
Phytic acid was one antinutrient found in soy. A lot of consumers had consciously chose almond milk and other nut milks to replace their dairy milk but I had concerns about it considering they are high in omega 6 and less in omega 3, which is a link to a steady rising of inflammatory-related diseases to the Western diet. With that being said anti-nutrients and omega 6 fats creates a recipe for disaster if used frequently. To balance it out though, drinking coconut milk or hemp milk are great. But to avoid too much of its intake, sprouted beans, seeds, nuts, and grains are the best way to go to release the nutrients and its bioavailibility.
Homogeneous. Homogenizing is a common process used in dairy and vegan milks to create a longer shelf life by changing the milk particle size.
Allergies. Often times commericsl vegan milk brands are made from nuts which is one of the leading allergy causes. But that’s not the only ingredients someone can be allergic to. Carragenans is derived from red algae that is known for worsening conditions of IBS, IBD, and other gut related diseases.
Environmental impact. The most common plants are almond and cashew milks. Many brands do not share ethical concerns about the impact and use of deforestation and inhumane labor conditions in eumelanin communities. For newly vegans and environmental activists, the environment impacted by dairy free brands are one of the easiest ways to get into making a change. Brands like Milkadamia and Elmburst does well in growing and ethically sourcing their own ingredients for a greater change.
Packaging. The packaging are usually a concern snd contradicting to “Saving the Earth” speakers. Most brands are made out of plastic which still contributes to pollution. Some brands use recycled plastic BPA free however there are still hundreds of plastic byproudcts that can pass into produce and is not quite fitting for those desiring to lead a low carbon foot print lifestyle for health and wellness.
Less Cost Efficient. It’s unfortunate that consumers are paying extra money for junk. But then its even more concerning when individuals must pay more, in smaller quantities, for the top of line store-bought milks! It is just not cost effective for struggling or frugal individuals and families looking for affordable dairy free alternative with low side effects.
Depending on your budgets, goals, and lifestyle dairy free milks can be a long term choice if your household intolerant to dairy or deciding to cut out dairy. Luckily there are great dairy free store bought brands. The main side effect is the plastic packaging issues.
Heres where you to locate and how to choose the best dairy free milk that best fits them. Outside of the side effects, the most effective is creating large batches from home with ingredient sources they can trust.
What are yall thoughts?