Animal milk and foods derived from animal milk are popular in the Western world. Though animal milk can be a good source of protein and calcium, in reality it is not an optimal food. It is not really as nutritious as we are led to believe: It contains high amounts of unhealthy saturated fat, and the essential minerals in animal milk are actually found in greater abundance in foods like spinach and kale. Not to mention the fact that the majority of people in the world are actually lactose intolerant. Many people experience digestive problems and nutrient malabsorption from drinking animal milk.
Animal milk fits into a vegetarian diet, as it doesn't require the slaughtering of animals to produce. However, there is an important distinction between veganism and vegetarianism. Those of us who follow a vegan diet also swear off foods and products made through the exploitation of animals. Animal milk is one of these foods, produced through animal exploitation. Anyone familiar with the inhumane way dairy farms are run can confirm this.
In the past couple of decades there has been a huge surge in the popularity of plant-based milk replacements. This is because companies are recognizing the needs of people who are lactose intolerant, as well as the popularity of the vegan lifestyle. Here is my personal favorite vegan almond milk. Definitely give this one a try. But, is almond milk always vegan?
Is Almond Milk Vegan?
- Natural flavors, especially in flavored almond milk
- Added vitamins and minerals
- Natural thickeners like carrageenan, sunflower lecithin, and locust bean gum
Really, the only ingredient that you need to worry about when ensuring your almond milk is vegan is the sweeteners. If you buy sweetened almond milk, make sure it's sweetened with plant-based sweeteners and not honey, which is an animal by-product. However, it is almost unheard of that a commercial almond milk would be sweetened with honey, so the likelihood of almond milk ever being non-vegan is extremely low.
So, is almond milk vegan? Virtually always, yes!
Making Vegan Almond Milk
How almond milk is made is very simple. Almonds are very finely ground together with water. Any remaining larger almond crumbs are strained out. This is very easily done at home. When this process is carried out in a factory, any of the various sweeteners and additives mentioned earlier will also be blended into the almond milk.
It is very recommendable to make almond milk at home. You can control the almond-to-water ratio, making a thicker or thinner milk as desired. You'll also have total control over the type and amount of sweeteners. Plus, you can make it without any type of thickening agent or preservative; some people have concerns about the safety and healthfulness of chemical preservatives. Even natural thickening agents like carrageenan have ignited controversy. There are many other food additives that health-conscious people often try to avoid.
To make your own almond milk at home, a starting ratio of almonds to water is a 1/2 cup of almonds per every 1 cup of water. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of almonds. Soak the almonds in water overnight. In the morning, grind them as finely as you can in a food processor. Then, combine the ground almonds and water in a blender. Blend well, as the fast spinning motion is needed in order to fully draw out the almond's nutrients and flavors into the water. Then, strain over a cheesecloth to get rid of any large almond crumbs that may remain. Squeeze the cheesecloth well to get all remaining almond milk out of the sediment. Your homemade almond milk should be good in the fridge for about 3 days.
Almond milk is virtually always vegan. The possibility of it being sweetened with honey is so remote that it does not even bear worrying about; almond milk companies know that a sizable portion of their customers buy the almond milk because they follow a vegan diet, and so use plant-based sweeteners. Almond milk carries many benefits over animal milk, so consider making the switch even if you are not vegan. But, if you are vegan, this drink is definitely a must-have, just like these vegan stickers that you can place anywhere you like to tell the world that you're passionate about living cruelty-free.