So you’re an alt-bro in search of an alt-milk. The obvious question is why, you idiot, since regular milk is delicious. I don’t have to tell you that. Milk is necessary for cheese and yogurt, cheesecake and bowls of Frosted Flakes, but you’re too alt for that. Like, “Ugh, cow’s milk is sooo mainstream. You might as well listen to Coldplay and drink pumpkin spice devil brews.” Fine. Here are your dumb alt-milks.
1. SOY MILK
The OG alt-milk, duh. Soy milk is what’s used to make tofu. But who even drinks this crap anymore? Isn’t soy like punk—so dead? If this is your alt-milk you’re probably trying to bring back O-Town or Papa Roach and calling them “old school.” (Stop.) Even the entry-level alt-bros got off the soy bandwagon years ago. Science is still not sure if it’s cool to be down with soy milk (estrogen studies are split), plus people are allergic to soy and stuff. If this is the so-mainstream-it’s-alt milk for you, opt for organic, non-GMO brands like WestSoy. Works great on cereal, and Starbucks always carries it for those of you who actually still go to Starbucks. Maybe Moby drinks it?
Photo: Jennifer Donley / Flickr
2. RICE MILK
Sure, it’s a whitish liquid for cereal or coffee, but it’s not particularly nutritious or anything. It’s made from brown rice and water blended together, but when rice is processed like that it releases its carbohydrates as sugars. Upside: This is the most hypoallergenic option on the list and it’s a little sweet (though not Lucky Charms cereal-milk sweet or anything). Downside: wayyy more carbs and sugars than your other options. Rice milk is pretty much liquid Lana del Rey: fiiiine, but also pretty empty.
Photo: ETJ|Photography / Flickr
3. COCONUT MILK
Now for more than just homemade curry. And don’t even talk to me about that foul coconut water crap you drink and pretend to enjoy after kickball with your mainstream bros. Coconut milk is a dairy-free, vegan, nut-free option, but it’s also a killer on the saturated fats. It tastes faintly of coconut and is reasonably milklike, if on the thinner side. The flavor and thickness of coconut milk also varies significantly by brand, so buyer beware. It’s definitely a capital-T Thing in the paleo community since coconuts are very low in starch, but I can’t really think of a reason to drink it. Or write about it. Unless you have a severe nut allergy, in which case you already know this crap. This is the Haylie Duff/Spencer Pratt/Ryan Cabrera milk. Dumb dumb dumbbbb.
Photo: theimpulsivebuy / Flickr
4. HEMP MILK
You are a vegan who thinks Burning Man is getting too mainstream. You love pot edibles and own more than one ukulele. We are not friends. I find your waxed facial hair and suspendered skinny corduroys repulsive. But hey, you do you. Go ahead and call your probiotic sauerkraut kale juice an elixir with a straight face. Your local food co-op is exactly where you can buy hemp milk. This will be the next chia seed, unfortunately. It tastes malty and has a known bitter aftertaste, made worse when mixed with your (single-origin cold-brewed) coffee. It does, however, contain some protein, all 10 amino acids, omega-3s, and is a good source of vitamins D, B, and riboflavin, if that means anything to anyone. Plus, the fat is of the unsaturated variety. I hate to admit that health-wise it’s a pretty solid option, especially brands that add calcium, and you will be the altest of the alt-bros drinking this under-the-radar beverage. Most importantly, IT WILL NOT GET YOU HIGH, IDIOTS.
Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr
5. GOAT MILK
Nutritionally, goat's milk and cow’s milk are neck and neck. Goat wins on calcium and potassium, but cow takes the lead on the B vitamins and is lower in fat and calories. Goat milk is a good alt-milk for most lactose intolerants since it has 89 percent less casein (the protein that most people are sensitive to) than cow’s. The taste is close to regular milk, so it’s a worthy cereal splasher. In terms of your alt-cred, there are way more adorable jumping and screaming goat YoutTube videos, and goat milk is widely available at norm-core grocery stores/urban provisions markets/bodegas. It’s the Phil Collins of milk. No one can hate on that. This is for the worldly alt-bro who has Fela Kuti and Amadou & Mariam on vinyl, studied abroad in Senegal, and knows of a cash-only Uzbek joint that stays open late.
Photo: Brian Boucheron / Flickr
6. SHEEP MILK
Richer and creamier than its cow brethren, this stuff has double the fat and calories of regular milk. Give it to your twig-thin alt-girlfriend, hoping she’ll wake up looking like a Kardashian. Not that you know who the Kardashians are, you don’t even watch TV. Better yet, this is the pork-belly duck-fat Sriracha-mayo double-down thing that even your boy from upstate New York won’t eat.
Photo: Cheese by Hand
7. BUFFALO MILK
First, just imagine milking a water buffalo. That’s gotta be some high-risk workers-comp animal-whisperer kinda thing, right? Or do they put them in a trance like upside-down sharks? No idea on the mechanics of this one, clearly. But you’re an alt-bro—you can go find a water buffalo farm and befriend the farmer and get down with this stuff. In the U.S., that’s pretty much the only way you’re gonna get it anyway. The biggest consumers are India and Pakistan (with Italy farther down the list). Health-wise, it’s got more protein and calcium, plus lower cholesterol, than cow’s milk, but is higher in fat and calories. Tons of alt-cred for this, but you probably wear flannel and only listen to bands from Portland—either Portland. They’re basically the same now.
Photo: Marcos Casiano Photography
8. OAT MILK
Oaty and sweetish, with no real protein or calcium, this is just another poser milk. Gluten free, nut free, soy free, dairy free: It’s tasty, but it’s The Killers. Also you can make it at home pretty easily.
Photo: Vegan Feast Catering / Flickr
9. ALMOND MILK
For the alt-bro who’s growing up. No longer living with five roommates, you’ve given up your side hustle/passion project/calling for paid vacay and benies. But you think milk is a bad decision (despite all the hipster ice cream you eat) and this stuff is pretty cheap at Trader Joe’s. Yeah yeah. This is the Arcade Fire, the Vampire Weekend, of milks. It’s everywhere and we know all the words. Most brands add enough calcium to make it even better than cow’s milk, and it’s got good fats. Tough to hate on, but it’s not gonna earn you any alt-points. Just make sure to buy the almond milks with some stabilizers, like Almond Breeze or Califia Farms, so it won’t separate in your $5 pour-over that takes 10 minutes to make.
Photo: Mike Mozart / Flickr
10. CASHEW MILK
Dunno. They make it because they can, I guess? Mostly used in vegan Pinterest recipes for milkshakes or alfredo sauce. It just feels like you’re trying too hard, alt-bro. You have a handmade neon wooden recumbent bicycle with a built-in typewriter. You’re a punch line.
Photo: thedabblist / Flickr
11. QUINOA MILK
Just shut up.
Photo: Well + Good
12. RAW MILK
Header photo: Guy Montag / Flickr
Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She's probably hungry, but if not she could eat.