There aren’t many topics that cause more divergence of opinion than children and what you should feed them. I’m interested in introducing vegan elements in to the kids’ diet as much as possible with milk being an obvious starting point given that it’s quite a large part of their diet.
(Both Sonny (2 in June) and Jack (4 in April) drink milk at the end of the day and cereal or porridge in the mornings). Last year I did a shout out to the Instagram community about dairy free milk options taking into consideration nutrients, taste, sugar levels, so I’m here to share back with you all the wisdom kindly imparted.
Here’s the options (according to you):
– Most/all plant milks designed for drinking have less fat than whole milk, so make sure plenty of fats are coming in from other foods.
-The enriched part is important to look for in plant milks if you want a high calcium level
-Hemp milk: nutritionally, hemp milk is a winner and stacks up super well although note that it’s not as calorie dense as other plant milk. It’s also rich in omega 3 and 6 and contains all 10 amino acids as well as protein and calcium.
–Oat milk seems a very popular option – in particular, Oatly Barista which contains a lot of calcium and more fat than the regular Oatly (the blue is the equivalent of semi skimmed for when they get older). In fact, like for like, full fat cows milk and Oatly barista provide the same amount of calcium (and has less sugar). Also, Oatly chocolate oat drink is to die for !
–Soy milk seemed the most popular choice for those of you who had seen specialists on this topic; allergy specialist Dr Helen Cox specified soya as an alternative from 12 months old and then Oatly or Koko (also received a lot of votes from you) from 14 months. Alpro soy toddler also got the thumbs up from you lot although beware, as the sugar levels are high – though it has pretty comparable calcium and protein content to milk, and is a very popular drink for children in Asia.
Other Nuggets of Advice:
-Cows milk contains a lot sugar. A lot.
-Variety is the spice of life so consider simply mixing it up
-Many of you were exclusively breastfeeding and milk simply wasn’t part of your kids’ diet
-There’s no beating about the bush: dairy free milks can be pricey so do look out for offers or consider making your own which is really not as hard as it sounds. Here’s my super simple recipe for an oat milk.
-To make hemp milk: use raw living organic shelled hemp seeds, soak overnight, drain and rinse the nuts well, then blend with 4 cups water for 1 minute and strain through a nut milk bag or muslin and squeeze until there is no more liquid and that’s it!
-To make cashew milk or oat milk: you don’t need to strain the nuts, just soak for a day.
-Remember to save the left over pulp and freeze to use an amazing granola/ smoothie ingredient. Organic nuts/seeds are best as otherwise the milk separates and tastes baaaad in tea / coffee
-Consider goats milk
-Check out this guide for vegan kids under 5
I hope you found this mini guide helpful and perhaps a starting point for your own research regarding what might work for you and your little ones. Do leave your thoughts and go to milk options for your family in the comment below – I’d love to read!