The classic milk alternative for the lactose intolerant. Originally made in China over 2000 years ago, soy milk was the first ever plant-based milk which served as a nutritious beverage for populations with poor milk supplies. Nowadays, soy milk isn’t just reserved for those who can’t consume cow milk, it is in fact the second most popular alternative milk.
Soy milk is made by soaking and grinding up soybeans. The resulting liquid is then boiled and filtered to improve its texture and flavour. Variations in this process can change the characteristics of soy milk, but the overall taste is typically thick and smooth with a distinctive ‘beany’ flavour.
Stated benefits of soy milk include the absence of lactose, lack of cholesterol and high levels of nutrients. Unlike almond, rice and coconut milk, soy milk has a lower calorie content than cow milk. Commercial soy milk is usually fortified with additional nutrients to increase levels of vitamin B12, vitamin A and Vitamin D. The main disadvantage of soy milk, is that it is not an option for those with soy allergies.
For those concerned with the environmental impacts of making alternative milks, soy milk is cited to be one of the more sustainable products. One litre of soy milk creates around one kilo of CO2 gases. That ranks as slightly higher than oat and almond milk, but two kilos less than cow milk and 200g less than rice milk. That same litre of soy milk takes 297 litres of water to produce. That may sound a lot, but it is less than a third of the amount of water required to make cows milk. Perhaps soy milks biggest environmental fault is the fact that the land required for soy plantations can be a result of deforestation.
So where can you buy soy milk? A lot of larger stores stock it in their aisles. It is available under the brands Silk (USA), Vitasoy (Hong Kong), Alpro (UK), and Tesco (UK). It can be used just like cows milk, in coffee, as part of recipes or drank by the glass.