Pure deliciousness isn’t the only reason why humans have been enjoying milk for thousands of years. Real milk benefits our bodies in ways other beverages—including plant-based alternatives—can’t. For a start, milk contains eight times more protein than almond and rice milks. Not only that, while alternative plant-based beverages offer around 10 milligrams of calcium per cup, milk gives 300 milligrams per cup. Which is why plant-based alternative manufacturers often add calcium salts to boost the calcium content. This may bring the numbers closer, but our bodies don’t absorb these nutrients from fortified drinks in the same way they do when we drink real milk—and there is no federal standard for these products regarding which nutrients they add or how much. All dairy milk provides the same nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein, so unlike plant-based alternatives, you always know what you’ll get when you grab a glass of real milk.
To say that drinking real milk is getting back to basics is an understatement. Real milk’s ingredient list is short and sweet: milk and vitamins A and D. If it’s not in milk then it’s because nature left it out. However, some plant-based alternative options have more than 10 ingredients, including added salt and sugar, stabilizers and emulsifiers like locust bean gum, sunflower lecithin and gellan gum. Speaking of sugar, rather than being added, the sugar in milk—lactose—is naturally occurring. Check the label on a bottle of soy, coconut, almond or rice milk and see for yourself. Basics beat additives, hands—or more accurately, hooves—down.