Non-dairy milk choices continue to expand, but oat milk is one of the newest and most popular vegan options. We look at how oat milk is made, how good it is for you (and the planet), how it tastes, and even how to make your own if you’re so inclined.
Lately, there is a milky revolution going on and, no, I am not referring to “Milk” the drag queen. Oat milk has been aggressively pushing its way into many a menu and, to be honest, I’ve had conflicting feelings. Oat milk, from the outside, feels trendy, pretentious, and a little basic. The types of people I have seen ordering an oat milk latte are the same that go to SoulCycle, are on on-again-off-again vegetarians, and avoid carbs like the plague. But we cannot judge people based on stereotypes and this vegan, non-dairy milk shouldn’t be judged in darkness. There is actually nothing wrong with oat milk or anyone who does those things. I suppose I just missed the memo as to why everyone is making the switch. Also, it is just so easy for food fads to come and go, so I try not to get wrapped up in the excitement. I still remember when I first spotted, rice milk, hazelnut milk and cashew milk at supermarkets. Somehow, though, almond milk and soy milk have so dominated the alternative milk market that I almost forgot they existed. Oat, however, is steadily gaining steam, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t do a deeper dive on this alt milk du jour.
Related Reading: The Best Ways to Use Non-Dairy Milks Besides Cereal
What is oat milk, exactly?
First, let’s break down what we are actually talking about here. A.k.a what is oat milk? If you brush aside any sort of fortification, oat milk is simply oats that have been soaked in water, blended, and then strained. Because oats absorb more water than nuts, more of the oats break down and transfer into the oat milk. The result is a thick and creamy texture which drinks more like cow’s milk than even your nuttiest non-dairy milk. In addition, there is an added benefit that this vegan, non-dairy milk is actually a bit sweet to the taste, much like cow’s milk, even before adding sugar, so the flavor of the oat milk is actually quite enjoyable to the modern palate.
Oatly! Original Oat Milk, $4.99 at Target
Try it for yourself.
So, it tastes great. Good. But so does anything once you are used to it. Why are people trying to push this new milk so hard?
What are the benefits of oat milk?
One reason oat milk is revered is the low environmental impact. Little did we know, 80 percent of the entire world’s almond crop is grown in California, which has been suffering from droughts for the past couple years. It takes five liters of water to grow an almond and 100 liters of water to produce 100 milliliters of milk. That is a lot of water in a state with little to spare. By switching to oat milk, you can certainly lower your carbon footprint.
Another reason, in a world full of allergies, is that oat milk tends to fit most people’s dietary restrictions. It’s nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free (as long as the process plant is certified gluten-free), and vegan.
Califia Farms Oat Milk Barista Blend, $3.79 at Walmart
More and more brands are getting into the oat milk game.
Okay, but is oat milk actually good for you?
As far as vitamins and minerals go, hell yes. Oat milk is vitamin-rich containing 10 minerals and 15 vitamins as well as a strong dose of calcium and iron too. If you want to avoid dairy, and stick to a mostly plant-based diet, you will still be getting great nutrition from oat milk. Oat milk is also low in fat and contains zero grams of saturated fat. Oh hey, summer body! Finally, it’s a great source of fiber, so your digestive system will thank you. Where it comes up short is with protein, containing no meaningful amount, whereas regular cow’s milk and most other dairy alternatives contain as much as 8 grams of protein per serving. Oat milk also contains roughly 30 more calories per every one cup serving, than 1% regular dairy milk.
Where can you buy oat milk?
Now, where can you get it? You’ll find at least a few brands of oat milk in most grocery stores but can also order it easily online. Oatly, a Swedish company leading the charge as one of the most recognizable and widely available brands (they’ve even got decadent vanilla and chocolate oat milk for the kiddies). You can order from them or if you are just dying to try out an oat milk latte, or drop some in your coffee, use their Oatfinder to find a coffee shop near you. If that doesn’t work—or if we’re hit with more oat milk shortages as its popularity rises—just make some yourself. My favorite homemade vegan oat milk recipe is on The Green Creator. Simple and easy with a snappy video, so you don’t get lost, but there are plenty of other resources online.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.