A little discussion on fortified plant milk vs. non fortified plant milk. Neither one is “better” but here are some basic considerations to keep in mind when choosing your beverage!
There are loads of non-dairy plant “milks” available these days, and honestly I quite love it! There are so many delicious options out there and my favourite changes frequently.
Many types of plant milks are available. One distinction you can draw is between those milks that have been fortified, and those that have not.
Fortified plant milks have vitamins and minerals added to them which usually make them have a similar nutritional value to cows milk. Often, they also have another additive/s being an emulsifier which gives them a smoother consistency and allows them to blend more easily with hot drinks (for that creamy coffee).
By contrast, non-fortified plant milks tend to be made with a very short ingredients list – typically the nut/plant/seed that the milk is named after, water, salt and sometimes a sweetener. Additives are not used to change the nutritional value.
You may read that the “best” milks to have are the purest, plainest, non-fortified milks made with organic activated mountain-grown nuts and alkaline water (or whatever other “wellness” jargon you can find) etc. but I think we can take a more balanced approach.
If you are using plant milks to replace cows milk, there is an advantage to fortified milk because you will actually get some nutritional value out of the beverage.
Non-fortified plant milks have minimal nutritional value. Even the really creamy ones are generally less than 10% anything (i.e. less than 10% almond, coconut, oat, etc); it really is mostly WATER. Not that there’s anything wrong with having something quite watery if you like the taste, it’s just you’re not getting nutrients (that you would get if you drank dairy milk e.g. B vitamins, calcium, protein), so you need to get them elsewhere.
If you are worried about additives in the fortified milks, keep in mind they occur in very small amounts, are tested for food safety and also, how much of this milk are you drinking? What is the real risk of “harm”? There is not a lot of scientific evidence that any of the relevant additives are even harmful. Also, not all fortified beverages have a ton of extra additives, so compare brands. You may find one you like that is fortified with vitamins and minerals yet that does not contain many other additives at all.
Taste and pleasure are also relevant factors when choosing a milk. What do you enjoy consuming? If you love a simple non-fortified one, that’s cool. I love lots of those myself, but I also like fortified ones so I have both. Satisfying your taste buds is actually a valid consideration in your food choice. Don’t let your choice just be dictated by some pressure to choose “clean” food, because the milks you’re trying to avoid are really not “unclean”
The amount of added sugar in milk alternatives is something to watch out for but again, not every milk is the same. You can check the label and see how much sugar (if any) is added – and sweeteners can be added to the fortified and the non-fortified ones.
You also need to consider how much of the relevant milk you actually drink and so what the overall impact is on your diet, and again – what you truly ENJOY.
Let pleasure and taste also be involved when you choose your food and drinks. I think having your latte at a cafe this weekend is going to be fine whatever it’s made with.