A few weeks ago, as part of my plant-based series of posts, I told you about the problems with dairy and how you can replace it in your diet. As a follow-on to this, I had to tell you about my new favourite dairy milk alternative – hemp milk.
The story of me and non-dairy milk is a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. Each alternative I tried was too sweet, too difficult to use or I was allergic to it.
When I began my conversion to a plant-based diet, the first change I made was to start drinking soya milk. And I happily drank soya milk for two years. Unsweetened, it tasted nice enough to drink on it’s own, and could pretty much replace cows’ milk like-for-like in recipes. The only problem I had with soya milk is that, unless you heat it up first, it flocks when you add it to hot drinks. Apparently this is a common problem with non-dairy milks because of the temperature differences with plant-based foods. So why did I want to change my milk of choice if soya was working for me? Well, my brother was the first person to put a spanner in the works. Ever the one to find an argument against anything I choose to do in life, he loudly announced one day that his children weren’t allowed to drink soya milk because it contains too many ‘females hormones’. This wasn’t a complaint I’d heard about before, but in the interests of education (and beating my brother), I kept an open mind. Since then, the only reference I have come across about the side-effects of soya milk is in Rich Roll’s book ‘Finding Ultra’. He doesn’t drink soya milk either because it increases the levels of oestrogen in the body. Personally, I have never experienced any of the side-effects that Rich describes in his book. In fact, if anything my hormones have been a lot better balanced since I changed my diet. But, I thought I’d find an alternative and prove my critics wrong.
Unfortunately, due to my allergies, I’m unable to drink rice milk or oat milk. I did try rice milk once, but I thought it was way too sweet anyway.
Next up was almond milk. Obviously, this one is out for anyone who has problems with nuts. I’d heard people talking about almond milk and how tasty it is, and how it’s their treat of the month (almond milk is quite a bit more expensive than other milks). When I tried it for the first time, though, I have to say I wasn’t that impressed. I mean, it’s drinkable, but nothing amazing. And it flocks soooooo badly in hot drinks. It’s OK if you heat it separately, but when do I have time to do that at 6am when I’m half-asleep and trying to get ready for work? I tried to stick with the almond milk for a few weeks, but I was starting to think it would just be better to cut milk out of my diet altogether. Then came the revelation.
I’d heard of hemp milk mentioned in recipes and articles online, but never seen it in real life. Was is just a myth, a common typo or, even worse, one of those amazingly great vegan ingredients that isn’t available outside the US? Then, whilst shopping in my local health food store one day, I spotted a couple of blue Good Hemp cartons hiding on a bottom shelf. A quick read of the label, and I was more than impressed. Produced right here in the UK (yipee, it’s local too!), hemp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth and it captures a lot of CO2. It doesn’t need pesticides, and as well as being healthy it’s suitable for virtually everyone to drink. As if all that wouldn’t encourage me to use it anyway, it tastes lush (that’s Welsh for ‘good’) plus, and this is the best bit, IT DOESN’T FLOCK IN HOT DRINKS!!!!!! That’s right, you can use it exactly as you would dairy milk. So now, I walk straight past all the big displays of soya and almond milk in the shop and head straight for the blue cartons.