Laura Day investigates the growing trend of avoiding dairy, plus the nutrition pros and cons of milk alternatives
If you asked someone five years ago what type of milk they preferred, you’d have got a pretty straightforward answer: skimmed, semi or full fat
– maybe soya at a push. Fast-forward to the present day though, and the answer is likely to be very different.
Cows are no longer the only providers of this staple. These days we’re buying alternatives to dairy made from many different sources: oats, rice, hemp, nuts – even peas. These ‘milks’ in various guises and varying shades of white/cream/beige are no longer a limited choice for the few. In fact, every year more of us are saying no to cow’s milk as trendy premium nut ‘mylks’ crop up in the nation’s health-crazed capital. So what’s changed?
It’s thought around one in five UK households have swapped regular milk for dairy-free alternatives. Between 2011 and 2013, our yearly consumption
of free-from milks soared from 36 million to 92 million litres, while last year Waitrose reported its sales of almond milk had overtaken soya milk for the first time.
This growing appetite for alternative milks goes hand-in-hand with our increasing dietary awareness (a good thing), better allergy labelling (a great thing) and the current vogue for celebrity and online food blogger endorsement (more dubious).