The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Are Plant-Based Beverages as Good as Cow’s Milk?

Dairy as part of a Plant-based diet

Many plant-based beverages that look like milk are used as alternatives to real cow’s milk. Although the labels of these products often include the word ‘milk’, they are essentially aqueous suspensions of disintegrated plant materials and dissolved minerals and do not nutritionally resemble cow’s milk. The review discusses some frequently asked questions about the use of plant-based beverages as alternatives to cow’s milk and compares the nutritional composition and quality of the various products with that of cow’s milk. The most notable difference between plant-based milk substitutes and cow’s milk relates to their calcium and protein content, which research indicates is not biologically comparable to that of real milk. Arguments for and against the use of milk and various plant-based milk alternatives are raised. Experts agree that plant-based milk alternatives cannot be considered a nutritional substitute for cow’s milk until their nutritional quality and the bioavailability of fortified nutrients have been established.

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