Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives

If you are vegan, lactose intolerance, or have a milk allergy, there are many non-dairy milk alternatives to choose from – but which one is actually the best choice? Milk alternatives are all plant-based and come with advantages and disadvantages, depending on each individual’s diet, health, nutritional needs, or personal taste preferences.

When choosing non-dairy beverages, make sure that they are “fortified” or “enriched.” That means essential vitamins and minerals have been added. Children under 2 years of age should not be given non-dairy beverages because these do not have enough fat or protein to meet their needs. However, if your child has a milk allergy or is vegan, work with a registered dietitian to find the best option to meet his or her needs. 

Here’s how the common alternatives stack up nutritionally so you can determine which best suits your needs. The chart below compares non-dairy beverages per cup* 


Beverage (enriched; original flavour) Calories










% DV
Vitamin D

% DV

Cow’s milk (1%)** 108 9 2.5 13 13 30% 45%
Soy 100 7 4 8 4 35% 25%
Hemp 100 4 6 8 6 30% 25%
Oat 130 4 2.5 24 19 35% 25%
Almond 50 1 2.5 6 5 30% 25%
Rice 120 1 2.5 24 10 30% 25%
Potato 70 0 0 20 2 30% 15%

 (Source: EatRight Ontario)*Current as of August 2012 for select brands. Not representative of all brands. Read Nutrition Facts panels to choose a beverage that is right for you. ** Skim, 1%, 2% and whole milk only differ in the amount of calories and fat it has.

As consumer’s demand for milk substitutes grows, so do the number of available non-dairy alternatives. Look out for alternatives like hazelnut, pea and flax milks to make their way to the market soon. And if you’re interested in making your own non-dairy milk alternatives, Food52 ( has tested it out!

Not sure which milk is best for your specific nutritional needs or food preferences?

Talk to a registered dietitian, to ensure you are meeting your nutrient requirements. Please visit to book a consultation

Written by Evita Basilio BSc, Nutrition

Reviewed by Andrea Miller MHSC, RD