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Soy milk is our go-to milk alternative. It is the closest to milk in consistency and protein and most soy milk is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Soy milk is widely available in grocery stores and you can find soy formula for infants. We use soy milk for most of our milk substitutions because it works great in most recipes.
Pros of Soy Milk
- One of the thickest of milk substitutes
- Works well for baked goods and frosting
- Good in savory foods like mashed potatoes, meatballs, bread, and in sauces
- More stable at higher temperatures
- High in protein, and is a complete protein
- Usually fortified with calcium and vitamin D
- Low in saturated fat
- Available in infant formula
- Widely available in most grocery and health food stores
It does have a flavor different than milk. Some people like it and others may not prefer it. My son drank soy formula as a baby and soy milk as a toddler. He loves it on his cereal, but I personally prefer oat milk or coconut milk alternatives to eat in a bowl of cereal. My son could eat it in anything, but I prefer soy milk only in recipes where it is not a main ingredient or dominant flavor, so it really is a matter of preference.
Soy milk usually comes in unsweetened plain or a sweetened vanilla flavors. The vanilla flavor soy milk can work well in cereal or baked goods, but it does have a lot of added sugar, so if you are watching your sugar intake it is best to stick with the plain or original. I try to avoid added sugar especially because I know it is hard to go back to the plain when you get hooked to the added sugar. Plain is also more versatile and can be used in sweet and savory dishes. You want to be sure to use the unsweetened soy milk for savory recipes like mashed potatoes, meatballs, or meatloaf.
- Kirkland Soy Milk (Original or Vanilla)
- Soy Dream (Original or Vanilla)
- West Soy Milk (Original or Vanilla)
- Eden Soy
- Whole Foods 365
There are many different brands of soy milk and the taste and consistency can vary quite a bit. We have been using Kirkland brand unsweetened soy milk (found at Costco) for years because it is inexpensive, convenient and my son likes it. It comes in boxes that do not need to be refrigerated until opened. Since I often use soy milk when making baked goods, I always keep some in my pantry so I always have some on hand. Having shelf stable soy milk also comes in handy when we travel. We bring our son’s milk when we visit family and bring a couple boxes along with some cereal and plastic bowls when we stay in hotels.
Be Brand Aware
Because we are also avoiding nuts, we try to be aware of brands that produce other products besides soy milk. Sometimes the only brand of soy milk available in the refrigerated section is Silk. Before Silk began producing nut milks, we used Silk soy milk from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Silk soy milk has a great flavor (especially the chocolate soy milk!), however, Silk currently uses shared lines to produce their cashew and almond milks. They say they have good protocols and allergen testing in place, however, we have had several itchy mouth experiences from Silk yogurt, and have since decided to buy other brands to avoid potential reactions. Before you buy any soy milk, read the labels and be aware. You will want to look into whether you feel comfortable with a brand’s production process.
You might also notice that several brands are fortified with Calcium or Vitamin D, while some are not. You might want to take this into consideration if you or your child are not eating a lot of other food rich in calcium (like broccoli or leafy greans), to be sure you have a good source of these vitamins in your diet.
Finding Your Groove
Ultimately, you will want to choose what type of milk alternative and brand you like the best. I hope this gives you a place to start exploring. If you have grown up drinking milk, it might be hard to adjust to a new taste at first. I have found I sometimes prefer different milk alternatives in different dishes. My son likes soy in nearly everything because he grew up on soy formula and soy milk. It is a comforting and familiar taste to him.
I used to feel bad thinking my son was missing out on milk, but since he has completed an Oral Immunotherapy to milk and has been able to safely drink milk now, he still prefers soy milk. It made me realize I didn’t need to feel bad that he was missing out, and he realized he wasn’t missing anything all along (Okay, well, maybe ice cream- there are very limited safe and delicious ice cream flavors out there)! From all of the information out there about the health benefits of a plant based diet, I’m glad we were forced to find alternatives that may have ultimately been better choices for our health anyway.
- Healthiest Milk Substitute https://time.com/5125580/soy-milk-healthiest-plant-based/
- Best Soy Milks https://www.bonappetit.com/story/best-soy-milks
- 10 Best Soy Milk Brands https://runnerclick.com/10-best-soy-milk-brands-reviewed/
- Milk Alternative Comparisons https://www.healthline.com/health/milk-almond-cow-soy-rice
- Health Information about Soy Milk https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/soy/