Soy, best vegetable alternative to milk

Soy, best vegetable alternative to milk

Soy seems to be the best vegetable alternative to milk, according to a recent research from the McGill University (Canada). The study is actually focused on nutritional profiles of the most consumed beverages by consumers allergic or intolerant to lactose – as well as vegans – as an alternative to cow’s milk.

Soy, the best vegetable alternative to milk out of four

Goal of the study – published on the Journal of Food Science Technology (1) – is to further look into the characteristics of the drinks often used as an alternative to cow’s milk.

Though these drinks are advertised as healthy and wholesome, little research has been conducted to comprehend the nutritional implications of their use in the short and long term. Moreover, consumers associate these alternatives to direct substitutes of cow’s milk.’, the researchers write.

The study therefore compares the nutritional profiles by putting soy, rice, almond and coconut based drinks, on a side, and cow’s milk on the other.

Unbeatable cow’s milk

Pros and cons have been highlighted with regard to each plant-based drink. Though no one was able to push milk off the historic podium, which is confirmed to be unbeatable on a nutritional standpoint. 

As an healthy and well-balanced food, milk provides the essential nutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins), as well as micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Not by chance milk is often quoted in scientific literature as a food beneficial to health. Beyond all controversies against it, which are cyclically proposed but fundamentally devoid of any scientific support.

Pros and cons of plant-based drinks

Soy has been elected as the best plant-based drink – in comparison to rice, almond and coconut – because of its balanced nutritional profile. Rich in proteins, it is appreciated also for the presence of isoflavones. (2) The disadvantages instead concern its unpleasant flavor, the presence of s.c. anti-nutritional substances (3) and the unavailability to those who are thereto allergic.

Almond milk – the only one of the four drinks that in Europe can be designated with the name ‘milk’, without being accused of milk sounding – gets the silver medal. Appreciated for being high in Mono-Unsaturates Fatty Acids (MUFA) and its excellent flavor. With the only downside, same as soy, to be unavailable to subjects allergic to the relates proteins.

The rice drink – although made from a cereal valuable to nutrition at global level, which is also allergy-free – doesn’t shine from the nutritional standpoint. Because of the absence of proteins and the disproportionate quantity of carbohydrates. Researchers are actually raising the fear that a regular consumption of such drink as an alternative to milk may cause malnutrition in children, where attention to a balanced diet is not brought.

A coconut-based drink receives a favorable opinion regarding good taste and energy value, which is usually low. Furthermore, it doesn’t represent a risk for allergic subjects. Despite that, coconut looses the contest because of its high level in fatty acids and the absence of proteins. 

Long live soy, strictly GMO-free

The only possible element of criticism to soy that gets our attention – though not been considered by researchers of the McGill University, that not coincidentally is located in Canada – is a wide distribution on global scale of GM soy. 

Franken-foods and the Franken-seeds still represent, in our opinion, (4) a tangible threat for human and animal health, as well as for the environment. Furthermore since, as is in the case of soy, the genetic mutation has the sole intention of making the plant resistant to glyphosate other lethal agrotoxins.

Italian soy represents today a big opportunity. Italy is not only the European leader in non-GM soy production, but it’s also the first country to have imposed integrated agriculture, meaning the reduction in usage of pesticides to the lowest possible level. (5)

Soy’s origin in labels of drinks must then always be verified. If Italian better, European is anyways good. In the absence of information be always in doubt and leave on the shelf. 

Dario Dongo and Marta Strinati


(1) Refer

(2) Isoflavones are phytonutrients which have the capacity to contribute to the prevention of some cancers 

(3) Anti-nutritional substances reduce the assimilation of nutrient and/or micronutrient contents

(4) Great Italian Food Trade’s stand on synthetic biology has been stated in the free e-book ‘GMO the Big Scam. With further updates on the dangerous phenomenon of the uncontrolled spread of the so-called novel GMO’s

(5) The Italian paradox is the identity of a leading country in non-GM soy production, which then imports GM soy from South America to its animals (outside the organic supply-chain and those certified as GM-free). We wrote about it