You might have noticed that the milk aisle in your regular grocery store is looking more plant-based lately. Plant-based milk is in demand these days and people following vegan diet plans use only plant-based milk varieties. You can find a new brand, type, or flavor of plant-based milk every week. The selection of plant-based milk varieties is many. Apart from the usual soy, rice and almond milk, you can find cashew, oat, coconut, pecan, walnut, hazelnut, macadamia, quinoa, hemp, pea protein and flaxseed milk. The new types of plant-based milk are experiencing quick growth among vegan consumer goods and we can only imagine what new variety of plant-based milk is to be released next.
The sales of plant-based milk have gone up 61% in the last five years. As per the statistics, plant-based milk has captured 13% of the US milk market and has found its way into 33% of households. This should be good news for vegan and plant-based eaters, right? Well, it might not be. Mass-produced plant-based milk might not be as healthful as you think. Moreover, if you cannot afford the commercially available plant-based milk varieties, you can make homemade plant-based milk. Some of the reasons why you should make your own vegan plant-based milk are shared below.
Store-Bought Plant-Based Milk Is Nutrient Poor
Most of the commercially available plant-based milk varieties are poor in nutrients, except for the high-cost brands. The nutrients in the store-bought plant-based milk varieties come from synthetically added vitamins like vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin, vitamin D2, calcium in the form of tricalcium phosphate or calcium carbonate, etc.
A cup of commercially available unsweetened almond milk contains only 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of fiber. You might be wondering why so little nutrition from a cup of plant-based milk. This is because a half-gallon of almond milk contains only less than a handful of actual almonds. The case is not different for other varieties of plant-based milk.
Store-Bought Plant-Based Milk Has Added Thickeners
Carrageenan is a thickener obtained from seaweed and is added to plant-based milk varieties because of its stabilizing, thickening, and gelling properties. It does not have any nutritional values and there are some potential health concerns about carrageenan. Some of the studies conducted on animals have shown that carrageenan can lead to intestinal problems. It seems that the intestinal problems are species-dependent and it is not yet clear how carrageenan can affect humans. But as they say, when in doubt, do without.
In addition to carrageenan, gums like guar, gellan, and xanthan are also used to thicken plant-based milk. Studies show that guar gum can result in abdominal discomfort and excessive production of gas. Likewise, xanthan can lead to digestive distress in sensitive persons and can change the gut microbiome when taken in large doses.