Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk Who's The Winner

By ReshapeAugust 11th 2021

Since we were in our mother’s lap, we were told to drink milk as it is promoted as the best way to incorporate calcium vitamins into our diets. However, people are investigating dairy alternatives because of some cultural, environmental concerns, and ethical priorities. 

The long talk is still ongoing to determine whether cow’s milk is the best for health? Or plant-based milk? We’re here to provide you obvious information on both types and will let you decide which one is a better option for you.


In this article, we will cover the following topics:

  • What Is Cow’s Milk?
  • Types Of Cow’s Milk
  • Science-Backed Up Benefits Of Cow Milk
  • What Is Plant-Based Milk?
  • Best Plant-Based Milks
  • Science-Backed Up Benefits Of Plant-Based Milk
  • Reasons Why People Switch To Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives? 
  • Nutritional Difference Between Plant-Based Milk VS Cow’s Milk
  • Is Plant-Based Milk Better Than Cow's Milk?


What Is Cow’s Milk?

Cow’s milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced by the mammary glands of cows. It delivers naturally occurring calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K, phosphorus, protein, and magnesium. All these take part in building our bones strong since childhood; also, these nutrients help prevent osteoporosis at a later age.


Types Of Cow’s Milk:

Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk  Who's The Winner

There are multiple types in which cow’s milk is altered according to fat content, lactose content, and other things. Following are the types mentioned with their nutritional profile.

Whole Milk:

The direct source of cow milk.

  • 150 calories per 1 cup
  • 8 g of fat per 1 cup

Reduced-Fat Milk:

Fat content is reduced from whole milk to make this type.

  • 120 calories in each cup
  • 5 grams fat in each cup

Low-Fat Milk:

In this type, fat is cut short a lot from whole milk.

  • 110 calories per one cup
  • 8 grams of protein in one cup
  • 2.5 grams of fat per one cup

Skim Milk:

All traces of fats are removed from whole milk to make skim milk.

  • 80 calories per cup
  • 8 grams of protein in each cup
  • 0 grams of fat per cup

Lactose-Free Milk:

For people who have lactose intolerance, this kind of lactose-free milk is suitable for you. It contains an additional amount of lactase(enzyme) in the milk to break down lactose. 

Organic Milk:

Organic milk comes from cows that are not treated with any antibiotics, chemicals, and hormones. Moreover, even the grass they fed on must be certified as organic.

Raw Milk:

Raw milk is usually used in turban areas where regular milk is not pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. 

Flavored Milk:

Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk  Who's The Winner

Packaged milk products are usually processed with additional ingredients such as added sugars and flavors to make it flavored milk. Plenty of types are present in grocery stores, such as chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, etc.

Science-Backed Up Benefits Of Cow Milk:

A Longitudinal Study proves that the pregnant women participants who ate dairy-friendly and calcium-rich diets had children with better bone growth compared to the other women participants who didn't.

What Is Plant-Based Milk?

Plant-based milk is usually made by grinding beans or nuts and adding water to thin the consistency (e.g., making almond milk: grind along with water). The nutritional content of each type of non-dairy milk depends on how it is prepared. They are usually more expensive than dairy milk because of the multiple layers of processing and pricing of nuts. 

The Best Plant-Based Milk:

Following are the best plant-based milk alternatives that one can choose. 

Soy Milk

Soy milk fortified with calcium is the most relatable to dairy(cow) milk as both are good sources of protein and calcium. Perhaps, soy milk is low in fats and cholesterol-free.

Nut Milk

Almond milk, cashew milk, walnut milk, Macadamia nut milk, pecan milk, hazelnut, and milk are examples of nut milk. They incorporate rich sources of vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

Oat Milk

Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk  Who's The Winner

Oat milk has a naturally creamy texture and loads of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Coconut Milk 

Coconut canned milk can be easily found in any of your nearby stores. But they are high in saturated fats. In contrast, homemade coconut milk contains high protein, manganese, and copper nutrients.

Rice Milk

Rice milk from rice can be fortified to get rich amounts of carbs, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

Hemp Milk 

Hemp milk made from hemp seeds is a significant anti-inflammatory non-dairy alternative that can deliver calcium, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and omega 6 omega fatty acids to your body. It is proven to promote better brain and heart health.

Pea Milk

Pea milk has a creamy texture, contains loads of potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D traces, and has equal amounts of protein as cow milk has.


Science-Backed Up Benefits Of Plant-Based Milk

A study demonstrates that unblanched almonds (almond milk)provide a significant role in cholesterol. 

Another study states that soy beverages (soy milk) can be an economical alternative to bovine milk in the lactose intolerance population.

Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk  Who's The Winner

Reasons Why People Switch To Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives? 

For some individuals, it’s a milk allergy. But sometimes there are other reasons too.

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Milk allergy
  • Disliking for milk taste
  • Trying out new tastes and flavors 
  • Vegan diet or lifestyle
  • Concerns about inflammation
  • To make creative food (almond milk smoothie or coconut milk cake)
  • Concerns over antibiotics, pesticides, or hormones
  • Ethical concerns like being vegan


Nutritional Differences Between Plant-Based Milk Vs. Cow’s Milk:

Plant-sourced milk substitutes have less saturated fat content and other nutritional elements such as calcium when compared to dairy milk. It is loaded with unsaturated fats and vitamins, and minerals. 

According to research, consumption of nuts leads to lower risks of cardiovascular diseases. 

In a study, results suggest that most dairy plant-based alternatives products lack nutritional quality. Only soya milk showed good results comparable to cow’s milk. 

On the other hand, cow’s milk contains loads of calcium and vitamin B (all) traces. Children at an early age (1 to 3) need to consume around 350 milligrams of calcium a day for the healthy development of bones and muscle function, which can only be optimally sourced from dairy milk. It has rich in protein, calcium, vitamin b12, iodine, magnesium.

However, according to research, it is unclear to say that consuming a calcium-rich diet avoids or decreases fracture risk. 


Is Plant-Based Milk Better Than Cow's Milk?

In some ways (environmental and ethical), it can be said that plant milk is better, but you should be able to consume the RDA of calcium from other sources. 


The Bottom Line

Plant-sourced milk substitutes like oat milk, soy milk, oat milk, almond milk, rice milk, and hemp milk have different sensory characteristics from dairy milk, including its consistency, stability, and nutritional composition. 

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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