Vegan milk has built a huge following over the years, led by growing demand from the vegan community and environmentally conscious others seeking out alternatives to dairy-based produce.
Milk made from almond, soybeans, hazelnut, cashew and oats have quickly become mainstays on supermarket shelves and opting for a dairy-free lifestyle is becoming increasingly easier.
Swedish oat milk brand, Oatly, is one of the most popular alternative milk brands, and its drinks are regularly praised by vegans and non-dairy drinkers.
Along with its milk, it also has a line of oat-based ice cream, yoghurt, spreads and on-the-go drinks.
The company was founded by brothers Rickard and Björn Öste in 1994 and has seen huge growth in recent years, with sales reportedly reaching $200m (£150m) in 2018.
It’s well-known for its sustainable approach too, with the packaging on some of its products made from sugarcane, and according to the brand, the greenhouse gas emissions from Oatly oat drinks are 73 oer cent less than cow’s milk.
However recently it’s been on the receiving end of criticism from environmental activists and consumers as this Twitter thread revealed that the brand had sold £150m stake to a group of investors at Blackstone, a private equity firm whose CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, was and continues to be, a major donor to Donald Trump’s presidency and November 2020 re-election campaign.
It also emerged that Blackstone is alleged to have invested in Hidrovias, a Brazilian infrastructure company with reported links to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
In a series of tweets, Oatly responded to the backlash and calls to boycott the brand saying: “We chose Blackstone because they believe in us and our plant-based mission and because their investment has steered a major stream of capital into sustainability."
“We’re convinced that if we want to create real change for a more sustainable future, global capital needs to directed towards more sustainable investments.”
Blackstone also released a statement denying the accusations of links to destruction in the rainforest saying: “These are completely false allegations without any foundation. The erroneous claims and mischaracterisations were blatantly wrong and irresponsible.”
For many Oatly fans, it’s too little too late, and should you wish to spend your money elsewhere with different milk providers, we’ve rounded up some of the other options you could shop to stock your fridge with.
Whether you love yours poured in a morning coffee, mixed with iced lattes or in afternoon cups of tea, you don’t need to go without a vegan, dairy-free alternative.
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Sproud original drink powered by peas
Is there anything we can’t make milk from? As it turns out, no, as milk made from peas is now a reality thanks to this Sproud original drink powered by peas (Superfood Market, £1.81) made from yellow split-pea protein.
The gluten-free and vegan alternative is made from a 100 per cent plant-based mix and offers a creamy taste that’s easy to adjust to if you’re new to drinking dairy-free products.
It’s available in a sweetened, unsweetened or chocolate version and according to Sproud is a more sustainable option that almonds or oats, as it requires less water in the manufacturing process.
Rebel Kitchen dairy free mylk
This Rebel Kitchen dairy free mylk (Abel & Cole, £2.40) is a semi-skimmed, organic plant-based milk made with a short ingredients list including; spring water, coconut cream, brown rice, cashew, Himalayan salt and nutritional yeast.
Promising a creamier than skimmed but lighter than whole, splash it on cereal, use it in smoothies or top up your Americanos.
Alpro organic unsweetened soya
Soybean-based milk is nothing new and this Alpro organic unsweetened soya (Holland & Barrett, £1.04) has long been on shop shelves, but it's a failsafe, easily accessible option if you're looking to ditch the dairy.
Entirely made from plants, with no sugars, it's a gluten-free formula, using only organic European grown soya beans. It's lactose-free too.
Rude Health barista almond drink
Nuts are proving to be a popular source for alternative milk and this Rude Health barista almond drink (Planet Organic, £2.99) is one worth trying in your tea.
As you would expect, it brings a nuttier flavour that can be frothed up to create a barista-style cappuccino
Rude Health cashew drink
Drinks brand, Rude Health, also offer this cashew drink (Holland & Barrett, £2.31), which as the suggests, is made from cashews.
They're lightly roasted to bring out their full flavour and are then mixed with water and sea salt for an uncomplicated, tasty finish that's silky, creamy and just as good as cow's milk.
Plenish organic hazelnut m'lk
Continuing with a nut-based recipe is this Plenish organic hazelnut m'lk (Ocado, £1.87).
It's ingredient list doesn't get much simpler as it contains only hazelnuts, water and a pinch of sea salt, making it palatable for every diet imaginable.
All of its hazelnuts are sustainably sourced and organic too and add a nutty flavour that isn't overpowering.
While you may no longer wish to spend your money with Oatly, it doesn't mean you have to give up oat milk altogether as this Minor Figures oat m*lk (Farmdrop, £1.59) is a similar dairy and soy-free alternative.
Brewed in East London, it promises a natural sweetness, density, balance and silky micro-foam when steamed. It's a better choice for the planet too, as oats require a fraction of the water and land needed to produce cows milk.
For more sustainable lifestyle swaps, read our guide to the products to try in Organic September