The pandemic caused Oat Milk prices to spike, and the newly trendy drink became more popular than ever. Have we finally settled on the best alternative milk?
In the past couple of years, we have been exposed to numerous dairy-free milk alternatives – soy, almond, rice, coconut, just to name a few. However, Nutritionists and the non-dairy drinkers now claim that oat milk is the best option as it is not only benefiting our health, but also the environment.
Oat milk sales have increased by 289% from March to June. While this increase in sales can be partially explained by the growth of grocery sales in general during the pandemic, it’s worth noting that dairy sales only saw a growth of 25% during the same period.
So, is it really that good?
How healthy is Oat milk?
This plant-based milk is made from whole oat grain and water in which the liquid is strained creating oat milk (and of course some added ingredients including oil and some sort of thickener like gums or stabilizers).
Oat milk is a safe choice for dietary restrictions as it’s free of dairy, lactose, soy and nut – checking all the allergy-prone boxes.
One of the big perks of drinking Oat milk is it’s lower in fat content when compared to dairy milk, making it the ideal choice for a lower fat alernative.
It also contains fibre called beta-glucan, unlike dairy milk. Dietitian, Tania Ferraretto says that beta-glucan can “help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels”. Lowering blood cholesterol levels can ultimately decrease the ‘bad’ LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which has been linked to heart disease, by 5-7%.
Because oat milk is naturally sweet, most oat milks don’t contain added sugar. However, it is best to check for varieties that are marked ‘unsweetened’ just to be sure, especially if low sugar intake is a priority.
It is important to note that oat milk, or in fact any plant-based/non-dairy milks, is not suitable for children five and under. Many of these alternative milks do not contain nutrients, such as protein, calcium, and vitamin D essential for healthy growth and development.
Therefore, most nutritionists recommend that children under the age of five should drink dairy milk for their bodies and bones to grow sufficiently. If avoiding dairy, it is important to speak to your doctor on alternative foods and beverages to substitute for those nutrients.
How eco-friendly is it?
The rise of numerous plant-based milks has highlighted that dairy milk is not ideal for the environment when compared to the rest . In fact, dairy milk produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than all the plant-based milks.
Oat milk also uses 80% less land to grow than dairy milk, which uses about nine square metres of land.
It can further be compared to almond milk, what was once the most popular alternative, after soy milk’s reign. One pound of oats only takes a sixth of the amount of water and resources that it takes to produce one of almonds.
Are we going to see a similar pattern?
But with a great demand for oat milk due to its popularity, is producing more actually hurting the environment?
This issue can be seen with Almond milk, which quickly grew in 2008 surpassing the sales of soy milk. However, the then trendy drink ultimately concerned environmentalists due to the great amount of water it takes to produce almonds.
According to The Data Bridge Market Research, the oat milk market is expected to grow at a rate of 15.8% from 2020 to 2027, especially during the era of COVID-19 where panic buying is at its height.
But unlike in 2008, brands are now becoming more and more environmentally aware, for example the well-known Swedish oat milk company, Oatly, choosing packaging that is sustainable and recyclable.
So far, it’s all good for oat milk. Being the most eco-friendly milk, it’s bound to stay for a while.
DIY OAT MILK
Another reason why Oat milk is superior to dairy milk is that it can be reasily ecreated at home!
Not everyone has a cow, but have you got rolled oats in your pantry? Most likely. Or you most likely can purchase some from your local shop. Oat milk can easily be made with just two simple ingredients: Water and rolled oats.
CHOICE provides a simple and easy at home Oat Milk Recipe
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 cups water (1L)
- Place oats and water into a blender jug and blend for about 35 seconds.
- Lay a cloth such as a new Chux over a fine sieve sitting in a bowl or jug, pour in the blended liquid and allow to drip through until liquid flow slows.
- Picking up all corners of the cloth and securing the contents, gently squeeze by hand to extract the remaining liquid.
- Cover the bowl or jug and chill before serving.
Makes: 800mL (approx.)
- For best results use a high-performance blender.
- Don’t blend for more than 40 secs as the liquid will become slimy (too much starch is released, which results in a gummy, gluey texture)
- For additional sweetness and flavour include two pitted dates and/or one teaspoon vanilla extract before processing.
- Keep refrigerated and shake before serving.
- Use within 2-3 days. You can tell it’s past its use-by date when it smells sour and becomes slimy.
- Use leftover oat pulp in biscuits, cakes or muffins.