The types of milk powder available today would blow the minds of our ancestors, who only had access to milk from animals like cows, goats and camels. A safe and healthy choice from childhood to adulthood, according to Dietitians Australia, many turn to plant-based milk as a result of dairy allergy, being lactose intolerant or having ethical and environmental values that conflict with drinking animal products, i.e. veganism.
For Australian cafes, this has meant that plant-based milk might be in half of all drinks from Australian cafes, with a quarter of Australians choosing dairy alternatives and plant-based milk in 2021. According to a survey of over 900 cafes, the most popular option was almond, followed by soy and oat. Backed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, data over the last three years revealed steady dairy milk consumption in Australia despite the 43% rise in plant-based milk consumption.
It’s a trend that extends to the kitchen pantry in addition to the fridge. As plant-based milk products rise in popularity, alternative milk powder options have exploded in popularity, mainly due to the extended shelf life of powder milk over fresh milk. While you probably won’t find powdered milk at your local cafe, it’s certainly taking over shelves at the supermarket and finding its way into millions of Aussie homes.
It’s not just a preference for the flavour of plant-based milk or the lack of dairy and lactose. Climate change is also a factor in switching to dairy-free milk alternatives.
According to the Climate Council of Australia, ‘agriculture’ contributes around 13% of our greenhouse gas emissions yearly. And by weight, about half (42%) of the agricultural sector’s emissions are methane. Where is all this methane coming from? Burping cows.
Methane is 28 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Every tonne of methane released into the atmosphere will cause a comparable amount of heating to between 28 and 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide over a given period. Cows, and other living organisms, release a type of methane called biogenic methane, which is a significant contributor to the agricultural sector’s climate impact.
Research from the University of Oxford in 2018 published by the BBC reveals the environmental impact of just one glass (200mL) of different kinds of milk in this simple infographic (image below). Dr Adrian Camilleri, a psychologist at the University of Technology Sydney, also added their two cents, suggesting people underestimate greenhouse gas emissions from food.
“The greenhouse gas emissions from milk are about 30 times higher than what people estimate,” he told BBC News.
“I suspect that most consumers underestimate the greenhouse gas emissions saved by switching from dairy milk to plant-based milk such as soy milk.”
Which one would you choose?
“Each type of nut or plant milk is slightly different in flavour and mouth-feel, so try them all until you find the one you like best.” That’s the advice from Robin Foroutan, RDN, a New York-based integrative medicine dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Plant-based milk is often fortified with calcium, iodine, vitamin B12 and vitamin D, as many alternative milk powders do not naturally contain the same nutrients as cow’s milk.
However, plant-based milk alternatives each have different nutrition profiles. Reading and understanding the nutrition panel is essential to making the best choice to suit your needs. According to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, your alternative milk powder should contain 100 mg of calcium per 100 ml.
Plant-based and alternative milk powders also benefit from the lack of dairy or lactose, making them a popular choice for those with allergies or lactose intolerance. Being dairy-free is especially important since only 35% of humans can digest lactose beyond about seven or eight.
The most popular alternative milk product is A2 milk, which is almost identical to regular cow’s milk, except for the absence of the A1 protein, which has been linked to gastrointestinal issues often experienced by lactose intolerance. Although your standard milk bottle does contain the A2 protein, it’s minuscule compared to A2 milk products.
Because A2 milk only contains the A2 protein, it shares similarities with human breast milk, making it easier to digest. Unfortunately, this is where the innovation ends for A2 milk. Unlike plant-based milk fortified with extra nutrients, minerals and vitamins, most A2 milk on the shelf is just regular milk minus the A1 protein. Or at least that was the case before NatureDay Dairy A2+ Milk Powder arrived on the scene.
Powdered A2 milk is nothing new. Much like regular powdered milk, the dehydration process removes the water content leaving you with A2 milk powder ready to be reconstituted into a fresh cup of milk whenever you desire. Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits end since it’s the same cup of milk minus the A1 protein.
At NATUREDAY, they emphasise what they describe as Dairy Plus. On top of the already easy-to-digest A2 protein, a winning combination of two patented probiotics that improve gut health and optimise nutrient absorption is added to make NATUREDAY A2+ milk the superior choice in A2 milk powder.
Delivering optimised gut health, these dual probiotics – OWARU Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium HN019 – from DuPont are clinically proven to improve gut health, helping to provide healthy digestion and natural immunity.
In every single glass of NATUREDAY Dairy A2+ Milk are 1.7 billion probiotics, alongside 8.4g of protein, roughly 1.4 eggs, 50g of meat or 420g of spinach, 72% of an adult’s daily recommended calcium intake, plus vitamin D3 and vitamin A for absorption, vitamins E and C, magnesium and a guaranteed seal of approval for flavour and nutrition.
These nutritional benefits are all thanks to the only 1 in 8 free-roaming KiwiCross cows (100% genetically verified A2 cows that produce only A2 beta-casein) receiving the NATUREDAY approval for rich, creamy and sweet-tasting A2 milk powder everyone can enjoy.
Coconut milk, unlike coconut water (the clear liquid found inside), is extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts. Traditionally used from Southeast Asia to East Africa, this opaque, milky-white liquid is rich in oil, which gives the milk its rich taste. Moreover, this oil, or fat content, determines the subtype of coconut milk produced. For example, thick coconut milk or coconut cream has the highest fat content, while coconut skim milk, much like its bovine counterpart, has the least fat.
As with all the milk products on our list, coconut milk can be dehydrated into coconut milk powder, vastly improving its shelf life. Dehydrating coconut milk requires the addition of maltodextrin and casein to coconut cream to enhance fluidity and then spray drying the mixture.
Instructions on how to use coconut milk powder follow the same method as any other milk powder. Add water, mix and enjoy! Or get creative and add your coconut milk powder to hot chocolate, soups, sauces, yogurt, ice cream, shakes, and anything else you’d usually add cow’s milk to.
Cashew Milk is a type of plant milk derived from, you guessed it, cashews. This highly nutritious, non-dairy beverage sits beside other notable nuts and plant-based alternatives like almond milk, available in sweetened and unsweetened forms.
Cashew milk is gluten and lactose-free and an ideal milk substitute for cooking thanks to its creamy texture. Cashews contain abundant essential minerals like potassium, iron, calcium and zinc, essential vitamins (A, C, D, and K) and omega fatty acids.
Cashew milk is also approximately 75% unsaturated fatty acids, thanks to its lower fat content than other nuts. So, if you’re wondering, is cashew milk healthy? There’s your answer. The same also goes for its dehydrated milk powder version.
Made from ground soybeans or soy protein powder, one of the very first plant-based milk products was soy milk. Soy milk is an excellent source of protein, far more than any other plant-based milk on this list and 50% more than skim milk powder. A single cup of unsweetened soy milk contains about 7 grams of protein. And with the addition of vitamin B12 during production, soy milk has found popularity in the vegan community.
Because of the increased protein content, the best suggestion for how to use soy milk powder is protein shakes. Mixing your chosen protein powder with soy milk powder may help you increase your gains at the gym.
Unfortunately, the biggest downside to soy milk is allergies. Although soy allergies are relatively uncommon (Only 2-3% of young children will have positive allergy tests to soy) compared with peanut, egg or milk allergies, it is commonly seen in young children. However, many will outgrow their allergy as they reach adulthood. Surprisingly, many children (about 15%) who react to cow’s milk protein also react to soy proteins.
Malted milk, or malt powder, as it’s sometimes referred to, is an oddball option on our list. First manufactured in Chicago in 1873 as a brand of infant food, J & W Horlicks trademarked the name “malted milk” in 1887, a product consisting of powdered gruel (a thin liquid food of oatmeal or other meal boiled in milk or water) made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk powder.
Although initially marketed to infants, it gained far more popularity with explorers for its lightweight, nonperishable, nourishing qualities. It was so popular that it even made its way to the south and north poles on expeditions by Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Falcon Scott!
Nowadays, malted milk powder is less of a beverage and more of a flavour additive for malted milkshakes, although popular brands like Carnation and Ovaltine still exist today.
But is malted milk powder good for you? Well, according to the 1887 patent, malted milk powder combined “the nutritive parts of the cereals with milk… and render[ed] such food free from all souring tendency irrespective of the climate… [while being] readily soluble in water.”
While we wouldn’t call it a miracle drink, it certainly had value before the rise of more nutritious plant-based and non-dairy milk alternatives.
Despite its name, almond milk typically contains only 2 to 14% almonds, with the rest being sweeteners, except for unsweetened varieties. Almond milk powder is much the same, being split between sweetened and unsweetened.
Powdered almond milk differs from other plant-based alternative milk powders because it is much lower in energy and saturated fat, especially in comparison to cow’s milk. Protein levels are also much lower, with only a gram per serving, though protein-fortified almond milk products of up to 10 grams of protein per 250ml are entering the market.
According to Dietitians Australia, if you want to use almond milk powder, look for fortified varieties, or else you won’t be getting the same level of nutrients as other plant-based milk powders on our list.
Plant-based and alternative milk powder consumption is growing in popularity, not just here in Australia but worldwide. Even the NY Times suggests we haven’t even reached “Peak Plant Milk” as people search for dairy alternatives to avoid unnecessary trips to the bathroom.
For those that don’t enjoy the nutty taste of plant-based milk and just want milk that tastes like real milk, the obvious answer is A2 milk powder. Free from the dastardly A1 protein that can wreak havoc in your gut, powdered A2 milk is a kinder, healthier option than even the most nutritious plant-based milk on our list.
If you want the best milk powder, one with an optimised formula for ultimate absorption and packed full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. NATUREDAY Dairy A2+ Milk Powder is the liquid gold you’ve been looking for… well, once you add water, that is.