Dairy > Guide to Non-Dairy "Milks"


By Reed Mangles, Ph.D., R.D. -- Vegetarian Journal, Jan/Feb 1998


Trying to cut down on or cut out dairy products? There are numerous alternatives available. You can choose milks made from soybeans, rice, oats, other grains, and almonds. These milks come in different flavors, including plain (unflavored), vanilla, chocolate, and carob. They can be nonfat or low-fat, sweetened or unsweetened. Many have vitamins and minerals added in order to provide some of the same nutrients found in cow's milk. Milks are commercially available in aseptic shelf-stable cartons, in the dairy case, and in powdered form. All these are available at most health food stores, and several major supermarkets.


Generally these products contain no animal-derived ingredients. Sovex does make a powder which contains casein (a milk protein), but they also produce a product which is labeled as caseinate-free and which does not contain animal products. Even beverages which contain added vitamins and minerals do not contain animal ingredients.


Also included is cow's milk in the plant milks table below, for comparison purposes only.


Calcium (milligrams in 1 cup)


Better Than Milk? Caseinate Free: Light 500
Health Valley Fat Free Soy Moo 400
Better Than Milk? Caseinate Free 350
White Wave Silk and Rice Silk, Westsoy Plus,
Pacific Lite, Pacific Ultra, Rice Dream Enriched 300
Cow's Milk 300
Westbrae Rice Beverage 250
Pacific Fat Free, EdenSoy Extra, Westsoy Low-fat,
Westsoy Nonfat 200
Pacific Rice Beverage Fat-free and Low-fat,
Pacific Multi-Grain Original 150




Calorie content of regular soy beverages ranges from considerably less than whole cow's milk (which has 150 calories in 8 ounces) to slightly more. Rice beverages generally are lower in calories than whole cow's milk. The Low-fat and fat-free beverages are usually pretty close to skim cow's milk in calories (86 calories in 8 ounces) but flavored Low-fat milks (vanilla and chocolate) may be higher in calories because of the added sweetener.




Many beverages are lower in protein than cow's milk. This is not worrisome for those vegetarians whose diets contain other good protein sources. For those vegetarians who rely on plant-based milk for a significant portion of their daily protein needs or for those vegetarians who need some extra protein (growing children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, and some athletes, for example), beverages which are higher in protein can be chosen. These include EdenSoy Extra, EdenBlend, Health Valley Fat-free Soy Moo, Westsoy Unsweetened, Westsoy Plus, Pacific Foods Ultra, and Vitasoy (all flavors except light versions). For those whose diets have generous amounts of protein from other sources and who want a beverage which does not supply extra protein, rice and nut milks are generally quite low in protein.




Whole cow's milk has a hefty 8 grams of fat per cup. Skim cow's milk has no fat. None of the milks we examined had as much fat as whole cow's milk. Most regular soy beverages have a fat content like Low-fat (2%) cow's milk. Beverages labeled nonfat, lite, and Low-fat, as well as rice-based beverages are lower in fat, ranging from 0 to 3 grams of fat per cup.  


Vitamins and Minerals


Cow's milk is a significant source of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and riboflavin. Many non-dairy beverage makers add these vitamins and minerals to their products to make them more closely resemble cow's milk. Other sources for these nutrients exist, but these beverages do represent options for those whose diets do not otherwise have enough of these vitamins and minerals. While these products are popular with many adults and children, none should be used to replace breast milk or infant formulas. They are not suitable for use by infants as a main food since they do not resemble breast milk or infant formula in composition. Each brand of non-dairy milk tastes different and each has its fans. If you're new to these products, try several, considering their nutrient profile and your needs, and see which ones suit you.


Vitamin B-12 content (micrograms in 1 cup)


White Wave Silk and Rice Silk, EdenSoy Extra 3.0
Cow's Milk 0.9
Better Than Milk? Caseinate Free: Plain and Lite 0.6


Vitamin D content (IU in 1 cup)

Pacific Rice Beverage Fat-free and Low-fat;
Pacific Lite, Ultra, and Fat-free;
White Wave Silk and Rice Silk 120
Westsoy Plus, Low-fat, Nonfat;
Westbrae Rice Beverage; Rice Dream Enriched;
Health Valley Fat Free Soy Moo 100
Cow's Milk 100
EdenSoy Extra 40


Plant Milks

Products are listed alphabetically by type. All measurements are for grams in an 8 oz. cup.


Calories Protein Fat Added Vitamins & Minerals


Soy-based Beverages
EdenSoy Extra:
Original 130 10 4 A, D, E, B12, Ca, Thia
Vanilla 150 6 3 A, D, E, B12, Ca, Thia
EnerG Soy Quik 50 6 2.5 Thia
Health Valley Fat Free
Soy Moo 110 7 0 D, Ca
Pacific Foods:
Plain 100 4 3 Ir
Vanilla 120 4 3 Ir
Lite Plain 100 4 2.5 A, D, Ca, Ribo
Lite Vanilla 110 4 2.5 A, D, Ca, Ribo
Ultra Plain 160 6 5 A, D, Ca, Ir, Ribo
Ultra Vanilla 170 6 5 A, D, Ca, Ir, Ribo
Fat Free Plain 70 3 0 A, D, Ca
Fat Free Vanilla 90 3 0 A, D, Ca
Sovex Better Than Milk?:
Caseinate Free, Plain, powder form 100 2 2.5 B12, Ca
Caseinate Free, Plain, liquid form 86 2 2 B12, Ca
Caseinate Free, Plain, Light 80 2 0.5 B12, Ca
Caseinate Free, Chocolate 98 1 2 B12, Ca
Caseinate Free, Carob 114 2 2 B12, Ca
Sovex Solait 100 5 3 Ca
Creamy Original 160 9 7
Vanilla Delight 190 7 6
Rich Cocoa 210 8 6
Light Original 90 4 2
Light Vanilla 110 4 2
Westbrae Lite:
Plain 100 3 2
Vanilla 120 3 2.5
Chocolate 150 3 2.5
Westsoy Unsweetened 80 7 4
Westsoy Original 140 5 5
Westsoy Plus:
Plain 130 6 4 A, D, Ca, Ir, Ribo, Thia
Vanilla 150 6 4 A, D, Ca, Ir, Ribo, Thia
Westsoy Low Fat:
Plain 90 4 2 A, D, Ca
Westsoy Nonfat
Plain, Vanilla 80 3 0 A, D, Ca
White Wave Silk:
Plain 80 4 2.5 A, D, B12, Ca, Ribo
Chocolate 100 4 2.5 A, D, B12, Ca, Ribo
Rice-Based Beverages:
Amazake Light Almond 110 2 2
Pacific Fat Free:
Plain 60 1 0 A, D, Ca
Vanilla 70 1 0 A, D, Ca
Cocoa 80 2 0 A, D, Ca
Pacific Low-fat:
Plain 70 1 1.5 A, D, Ca
Vanilla 80 1 1.5 A, D, Ca
Cocoa 170 3 2 A, D, Ca, Ir
Rice Dream:
Original 120 1 2
Vanilla 130 1 2
Carob 150 1 2.5
Rice Dream Enriched:
Original 120 1 2 A, D, Ca
Vanilla 130 1 2 A, D, Ca
Chocolate 170 1 3 A, D, Ca
Sovex Rice Moo:
Original 84 1 0
Vanilla 80 1 0
Westbrae Rice Beverage:
Plain, Vanilla 120 1 3 A, D, Ca, Ribo
White Wave Rice Silk 90 2 2.5 A, D, B12, Ca, Ribo


Miscellaneous Beverages:


EdenBlend (soy/rice) 120 7 3
EnerG Nut Quick 110 4 9
Mill Milk Oat Drink:
Vanilla 110 2 2.5
Pacific Multi-Grain
Original 150 3 2 Ca
Pacific Naturally Almond:
Original 70 2 2.5
Vanilla 90 2 2.5
Pacific Naturally Oat:
Original 110 4 1.5
Vanilla 130 4 1.5
Whole Cow's Milk 150 8 8.2 A, D, B12, Ca, Ribo
Skim Cow's Milk 86 8.4 0.4 A, D, B12, Ca, Ribo

*Indicates vitamins and minerals which are present at a level 10% or higher than the Daily Value; A=vitamin A; D=vitamin D; E=vitamin E; B12=vitamin B-12; Ca=calcium; Ir=iron; Ribo=riboflavin; Thia=thiamin