Cows milk has been a staple part of a traditional diet in the UK for a very long time. It is such a popular choice as it is rich in both protein and calcium as well as containing vitamin D and potassium. If you don't fancy the full-fat version, then there are semi-skimmed and skimmed versions and organic brands are now available in almost all supermarkets.
Nowadays however, there is also a fantastic variety of non-dairy alternatives. These are especially great for anyone allergic to lactose or dairy who can't tolerate cows milk, those who simply don't like it and some of us who just fancy a bit of variety either in taste or nutrition.
Here I've put together a quick guide to some of the common non-dairy alternatives to help you get started :
What is it? : Made from water and soya beans. The texture is reasonably thick and it tastes slightly 'beany'.
Nutrition at a glance : Contains as much protein and calcium as cows milk.
Try it if : You are dairy or lactose intolerant. You want a high protein non-dairy alternative.
What is it? : Made from water and the liquid from pressed coconut flesh. The texture is slightly creamy and smooth.
Nutrition at a glance : Low in calories, protein and calcium but high in fat.
Try it if : You are dairy, lactose or soya intolerant. You want a taste of the tropics!
What is it? : Made from water and almonds, it is smooth with a gentle nutty flavour.
Nutrition at a glance : Lower calorie content than even skimmed cows milk, low in fat with almost no saturated fat, but also very low in protein.
Try it if : You are dairy, lactose, soya or gluten intolerant. You want a low calorie non-dairy alternative.
What is it? : Made from water, brown rice and sunflower oil. It has quite a bland taste and can have a slightly gritty texture.
Nutrition at a glance : Low in protein, fat and calcium. With twice the carbohydrate of cows milk it is high in both calories and natural sugar.
Try it if : You are dairy, lactose, soya or nut intolerant. You have a very sensitive stomach.
What is it? : Made from water, oats and rapeseed oil.
Nutrition at a glance : High in fibre. Low in fat.
Try it if : You are dairy, lactose, soya or nut intolerant.
What is it? : Made from hemp nuts, water and rice syrup. It can be grainy in texture and has an almost grassy taste.
Nutrition at a glance : Low in saturated fats. Free from cholesterol. Naturally rich in omega 3 and 4.
Try it if : You are dairy, lactose, soya or gluten intolerant.
Next time you are tucking into a bowl of granola, why not try one of the above?
As well as the original versions, they all come in different flavours such as vanilla, strawberry and chocolate as well as sweetened varieties. Some also have added vitamins and minerals so it's always worth checking out the product label before you buy to get a more detailed description of the nutritional content. Happy tasting!