Switching To Non-Dairy Milks

Vegetarian Column By Marcus Samuelsson

For the lactose-intolerant or vegan, non-dairy milks have long been the go-to additive to coffee or cooking. If you're curious about switching from cow's milk to a non-dairy milk, the options can be daunting.

In the time leading up to Easter, many Christians choose to give up a beloved treat or indulgence for Lent to connect spiritually through food. This can include dairy, or even going 100% vegan during the season of Lent.

If you've given up animal products, finding something to use in place of milk is crucial. But in this age of excessive options, what should you choose? Here's a brief guide to six options:

* Soy Milk - It is important to read labels carefully and trust the source of your soy milk because it is a "high-spray, intensively-farmed crop." Choose "American-grown, identity-preserved USDA organic soy milk."

* Hemp Milk - Although from the same plant as cannabis, or marijuana, hemp milk won't get you high. The seeds that are used to create this Omega-3 and Omega 6-rich milk are from a plant without THC, the chemical that causes a 'high.' Hemp milk is creamier and nuttier than soy or rice milks, and contains 10 essential amino acids.

* Almond Milk - Rich in taste and texture, almond milk is a great alternative to cow or goat's milk. You can easily make your own, too.

* Rice Milk - Grist suggests to buy USDA organic rice milk when reaching for this non-dairy alternative. Widely planted, and intensively farmed, rice milk can have a watery taste. It is naturally sweet, which makes it a good choice cereals. Like soy milk, it's important to trust the source of the rice, as many rice paddies are cultivated with genetically modified rice. You can even make your own!

* Coconut Milk - Long reviled by health-nuts for it's role in processed foods and 550 calorie per cup nutrition value, newer brands of coconut milk offer lower calorie coconut milk that takes you beyond the pina colada. Often used in curries and soups, coconut milk adds a luscious texture to savory dishes.

* Oat milk - Easy to make at home, oat milk has a natural sweetness that lends itself to rice puddings, cappuccinos, and smoothies. Make your own oat milk and tweak it with cinnamon, nutmeg, or even dates for a delicious cereal topper, or even on it's own.