Oat Milk is Trending—Why It’s a Big Deal

From local coffee shops to grocery stores, a new dairy-free milk alternative is taking the world by storm. It’s not chickpea milk. It’s not rice milk. It’s none other than…oat milk.

You might be thinking, ‘What? Another weird plant drink? Don’t we have enough of those already?’ But dairy-free milk alternatives are in demand with an estimated 65 percent of Americans who are lactose intolerant and in need of dairy alternatives. While there is a decent range of such alternatives, there are still a handful of issues. Several dairy-free milk alternatives, like cashew milk and soy milk, contain allergens that pose a risk for people with dietary restrictions. Not only that, some are not as friendly to the planet as they seem. To produce a single glass of almond milk, it takes a whopping 19 gallons of water. Meanwhile, the soybeans used to produce soy milk can lead to soil damage and deforestation.

Credit: Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Here’s where oat milk enters the scene. It’s naturally free of common food allergens such as soy and nuts. It also has a much smaller water footprint, using only one-sixth of the water consumption of almonds. Additionally, it is a good source of fiber, an essential nutrient. Oat milk can be used for more than just lattes and cappuccinos. Companies like Oatly and So Deliciously boast a whole range of oat milk-based products, including ice creams, yogurts, and spreads. 

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However, oat milk is not perfect in every aspect. While it is made from fiber-rich oats, it still has a higher carbohydrate and calorie count than its other plant-based friends. Some brands may have added sugar in their oat milk. The plant-based milk also isn’t the most budget-friendly dairy substitute. A half-gallon of Oatly! Original Oat Milk at Target sells for $4.99 which is nearly triple the price of a half-gallon of regular whole milk. As with other dairy alternatives, many coffee shops charge extra for oat milk.

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While this may be the case, oat milk shouldn’t be entirely ruled out. There are unsweetened versions of oat milk with simple ingredients. For those with their own kitchen, it’s possible to make oat milk at home with relatively few ingredients and equipment. Additionally, it is one of the few dairy alternatives that have the creaminess and richness of cow’s milk. Unlike almond and soy milk which both have a distinct flavor, oat milk has a rather mild flavor with a faint aftertaste of oats.

Despite its shortcomings, oat milk is definitely worth a shot if you’re looking to try something new. Treat yourself to an oat milk latte the next time you visit your favorite coffee shop!

 

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