Milk alternative reviews

If you can't or won't drink cow's milk, what are your options?
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We review over 70 varieties of soy, rice, almond, oat and coconut milks to see how they stack up nutritionally.

  • See nutrition information for the types  of non-dairy milk (excluding flavoured varieties) reviewed for our article in the table.
  • See Milking your options for a profile of each of these non-dairy milk alternatives.

On this page:

For more information about Beverages, see Food and drink.

Alternatives to cow's milk

Milk is a good source of many nutrients including protein, iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12, zinc and, importantly, calcium. Australian dietary guidelines recommend we include two or three serves of milk, its products or alternatives each day.

But what are your options if you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy and can’t drink it, or for ethical and environmental reasons you’d rather avoid it? Or you just plain don’t like it? An increasing range of beverages made from soy, cereals and nuts can be found in supermarkets and health food shops. But are they nutritionally adequate substitutes for cow’s milk, and should you choose one over another?

According to Tania Ferraretto, spokesperson for the Dietitian's Association of Australia (DAA), a major consideration is your overall diet. “If you’re avoiding milk because you just don’t like it – but you’re still eating other dairy products such as cheese – then you can probably base your choice purely on taste and cost,” she says. 

Watching your weight or worried about your cholesterol? Then add low kilojoule and low fat to your buying criteria. But if you follow a vegan diet, for example, then “choosing a substitute that’s high in protein and calcium should be a priority,” says Ferraretto. And, generally speaking, alternatives with 2.5% or less fat aren’t suitable as a substitute for cow’s milk for children under the age of two.

CHOICE verdict

The alternative most suitable for you depends on your overall diet or reasons for avoiding cow’s milk. One option might be to keep more than one type for different uses – soy milk on your cereal for a little extra protein and calcium, rice milk for baking and a glass of chilled almond milk for a low-kilojoule snack, for example.

However, in terms of nutrients, calcium-fortified soy is the best substitute for cow’s milk. If you’re removing cow’s milk and its products from your diet completely, consult a dietitian to make sure you choose the most suitable alternative for your needs. Visit the DAA to find one near you.

Cow's milk allergy & intolerance

A cow’s milk allergy occurs when your body produces antibodies against the protein (casein and/or whey) in milk. In this case all cow’s milk and its products – and usually goats and sheep milk – must be avoided. Intolerance, on the other hand, is likely to result from an accumulative reaction to lactose, the dominant sugar in milk. 

For people with lactose intolerance, lactose-free cow’s milks are an option. Pauls Zymil Lactose Free and Liddells Lactose Free are common brands. People with lactose intolerance may also find that they can tolerate cheese and yoghurt made from cow’s milk, as they’re lower in lactose.

If you suspect you have a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance seek the advice of your GP and get a referral to an immunologist, allergy specialist or an accredited practising dietitian for help and advice. A correct diagnosis and dietary advice is vital as a lifetime of avoiding foods unnecessarily can be a hassle and more importantly can mean you miss out on essential nutrients.

Brands and varieties tested

  • Australia's Own Organic Almond Milk
  • Australia's Own Organic Oat Milk 
  • Australia's Own Organic Rice Milk
  • Australia's Own Organic Soy Light
  • Australia's Own Organic Soy Malt Free
  • Australia's Own Organic Soy Premium
  • Black & Gold  Soy Milk
  • Bonsoy Soy Milk
  • Coles Lite Soy Milk
  • Coles  Regular Soy Milk 
  • Inner Goodness (Aldi) Rice Supreme Rice Milk
  • Inner Goodness (Aldi) Soy Supreme Light Soy Milk
  • Inner Goodness (Aldi) Soy Supreme Regular Soy Milk 
  • Inner Goodness (Aldi) Soy Supreme Regular Soy Milk 
  • Just Organic Organic Soy Milk
  • Macro Organic Light Soy Drink
  • Macro Organic Rice Milk
  • Macro Organic Soy Drink
  • NaturGreen Oat Calcium
  • Pacific Natural Foods Organic Almond Original
  • Pureharvest Organic Almond Milk 
  • Pureharvest Organic Oat Milk
  • Pureharvest Rice Milk
  • Pureharvest Rice Milk Calcium Enriched 
  • Pureharvest Aussie Dream Organic Rice Milk
  • Pureharvest Aussie Dream Organic Rice Milk Enriched with Calcium
  • Pureharvest Aussie Soy Lite with added calcium
  • Pureharvest Aussie Soy Original Soy Milk
  • Pureharvest Nature's Soy Organic Enriched with Calcium
  • Pureharvest Nature's Soy Organic Lite
  • Pureharvest Nature's Soy Organic Malt-Free
  • Pureharvest Nature's Soy Organic Original
  • Sanitarium So Good 99.9% Fat Free
  • Sanitarium So Good 99.9% Fat Free
  • Sanitarium So Good Almond Milk
  • Sanitarium So Good Barista
  • Sanitarium So Good Essential Soymilk
  • Sanitarium So Good Lite
  • Sanitarium So Good Lite
  • Sanitarium So Good Regular
  • Sanitarium So Good Regular
  • Sanitarium So Good Rice Milk
  • Sanitarium So Nice Lite Soymilk
  • Sanitarium So Nice Regular Soymilk
  • So Delicious Almond Plus Original
  • So Delicious Almond Plus Unsweetened
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Original
  • So Delicious Coconut Milk Unsweetened
  • So Natural Calci Rich Soy
  • So Natural Original Soy
  • So Natural Rice Milk 
  • So Natural Rice Milk with Omega 3 DHA
  • So Natural Soy Extra Milky
  • So Natural Soy Light
  • Vitasoy Calci-Plus
  • Vitasoy Calci-Plus
  • Vitasoy High-Fibre
  • Vitasoy High-Fibre
  • Vitasoy Light
  • Vitasoy Oat Milk Original
  • Vitasoy Original
  • Vitasoy Rice Milk Original
  • Vitasoy Rice Milk Original 
  • Vitasoy Rice Milk Protein Enriched
  • Vitasoy Vitality
  • Vitasoy Soy Milky Lite 98.5% Fat Free 
  • Vitasoy Soy Milky Lite 98.5% Fat Free 
  • Vitasoy Soy Milky Regular 
  • Vitasoy Soy Milky Regular  
  • Woolworths Home Brand Rice Milk 
  • Woolworths Home Brand Soy Drink



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