I’m what you call a “Flexitarian” because I eat meat sparingly and focus mainly on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Aka: I love me some carbs. Last month, I was seriously considering cutting out all meat in my diet and becoming a vegetarian…until I realized how much I love burgers. Also, I already moderate my meat intake so that isn’t a huge area I want to work on. To compensate for my reduced meat intake, I increased my dairy/milk intake to supply fat and protein. I love milk and greek yogurt (cottage cheese is slowly growing on me too) and they have become my go-to protein-rich foods. However, I do have some concerns about whether or not I am consuming too much dairy.
So, for an entire week, I’m going to do an experiment. I’m going to moderate my milk/dairy intake by substituting cow’s milk with almond milk and soy milk (I’m still going to enjoy my yogurt and cottage cheese). I’ve heard wonderful things about them but never really considered them viable alternatives. I want to see (1) if I enjoy the taste of these milk alternatives and (2) what nutrients they provide me on the daily. Here is the comparison of Almond milk, Soy milk, and Whole Cow’s milk.
As you can see, almond milk has the lowest amount of almost everything in terms of calories, fat, sugar, and protein. Soy milk has almost the same amount of protein as cow’s milk does but for half the calories. Soy is next with cow’s milk containing the highest amount of nutrients and calories. Is drinking cow’s milk a good thing or a bad thing?
As always: it depends. For decades now, saturated fat (found in animal/dairy products) has been linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more chronic illnesses. Most recently, this has been supported by the wildly popular “The China Study” which was published in 2005 and documented in the film “Forks Over Knives.” Doctors, Dietitians, and scientists alike have mainly promoted a daily decrease in meat, dairy, and animal product consumption (and an increase in plant based foods) to promote health benefits like reducing incidents of disease. However, recently, a Harvard doctor refuted these claims saying that historically, scientists have skewed the data findings to demonize saturated fat. Another consideration is animal vs plant sources of saturated fats (i.e. meat vs coconut oil). Is saturated fat coming from a plant better than one coming from an animal? More research needs to be done to conclusively say one way or another.
Like with all things, I recommend moderation and individualization. Because I enjoy milk and need the protein and calories, I will keep drinking milk but reduce my intake. I really enjoy soy or almond based milk, so they will be healthful substitutes. I still think soy is the way to go.
Happy eating and drinking