World Plant Milk Day and Understanding Lactose Intolerance

August 22nd is World Plant Milk Day

There are so many reasons why someone would choose a plant based alternative to dairy milk.

As a company providing millions of meals to children every year we know all too well that there are so many dietary requirements that need careful consideration. World Plant Milk day has prompted us to discuss lactose intolerance and how it affects people.

selection of vegan plant milks
Read the NHS guidance for more information

What is lactose intolerance?

A person is considered lactose intolerant when their body is unable to process lactose; a sugar found in many dairy products. When a person struggles to digest dairy products it means the body is not producing enough lactase, which is the substance that breaks up the sugars for digestion. This also means that the experience of lactose intolerance is different from person to person depending on the level of lactase their body is producing vs the amount of lactose consumed.

Symptoms centre around discomfort in the gut and can be very unpleasant or embarrassing for some. Thankfully, awareness of lactose intolerance is increasing in the UK, as are the ways to treat it.

Some people have Cows Milk Protein Allergy. This is different to lactose intolerance and you can read more by clicking here.

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How can plant milk help?

If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from lactose intolerance, please seek your doctors advice. A healthcare professional should determine the severity, causes and treatment.
Important to note – lactose intolerance can sometimes itself be a symptom of an underlying condition such as coeliac disease. It is always best to be in the know.

General advice centres around managing mild intolerances by limiting or cutting out the products containing lactase. The obvious culprits include dairy milk, butter, cheese, cream, yoghurt and ice cream. Surprisingly though, processed foods such as cereals, bread, cakes, biscuits, sauces, dressings and protein shakes also contain lactase.

Simply put, plant milks are a great first alternative to dairy milk and there are many to choose from, which helps to ease the feeling of having your options stripped away.

There are plenty of benefits to plant milk outside of the obvious too. Vegans choose these products to align with the desire to avoid animal produce. Increased nutritional content such as fibre and iron with good calcium and protein levels mean that plant milks contain very healthy benefits. The environment stands to benefit too as a reduced demand for agricultural farming can dampen the negative effects of this industry on climate change.

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What plant milks are available?

Where do you start once you’re interested in trying plant milk?

We’ll quickly summarise the types of milk available, each one has distinctive qualities and ultimately it all comes down to personal preference.

  • Oat milk
  • Almond milk
  • Soy milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Rice milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Cashew milk

We found an interesting site comparing the taste and texture of these milks in coffee and you can read more by clicking here.

Ultimately, whether you drink dairy milk, plant milk or no milk, it is your choice. There are scores of websites advocating for one side or the other but ‘everything in moderation’ always seems to be the advice that prevails.

Consider your options this World Plant Milk Day. If you fancy trying one of the many options on the market, you might be pleasantly surprised.