The 10 best non-dairy vegan milk alternatives

Image: Organic Power Foods

Plant milks have been consumed for centuries in various cultures, but their popularity has skyrocketed over the past decade. People choose plant milks over dairy milk for a variety of reasons. Whether it is for their nutritional value, animal welfare reasons, lower environmental impact, to avoid lactose or dairy milk allergens, or simply out of preference, there are many great options to try. ProVeg presents the 10 best non-dairy milk alternatives.

ProVeg SA supports wide availability of plant milk options

Globally, over 75% of the adult population are lactose intolerant. Local research suggests that a staggering 80% of black South Africans are intolerant to lactose, the sugar found in cow’s milk. We believe it is very important for us to support the availability, accessibility and education on plant milk options available in our country.

All plant milk options are more environmentally friendly than conventional cow’s milk. By choosing any plant milk options, you are saving up to 300L of water. You can find this information, and a whole lot more in the ProVeg Plant Milk Report.

Every year, we celebrate World Plant Milk Day on 22 August. This is a great time for us to raise awareness of the benefits of plant milk and taste all of the yummy options, of course! In 2020, we discovered that there are over 80 plant milk options available in South Africa. We tasted every single one of these options before deciding what our favourite options are.

In this article, we will cover the following options. Feel free to scroll down and find the one you’re looking for!

1 Almond Milk

2 Soya Milk

3 Oat Milk

4 Coconut Milk

5 Rice Milk

6 Macadamia Milk

7 Cashew Milk

8 Niche Plant Milk Options

9 Barista Blends

10 Flavoured Options

Almond Milk

In 2018, ProVeg South Africa celebrated World Plant Milk Day by handing out free tasters of Almond Breeze Almond Milk to hundreds of UCT students. The almond milk was overwhelmingly popular and it proved, once again, how tasty vegan food can be a great conversation-opener about the benefits of a plant-based diet: for our health, for the planet, and for animals.

Nutritionally, almond milk is quite different from soy or dairy milk. It has fewer calories and much less protein. The small amount of fat in almond milk is healthy unsaturated fat. Home-made almond milk can be a rich source of calcium, depending on the quantity of almonds used – it contains powerful antioxidants that can have a protective effect against cancer and heart disease. It has a mild and slightly nutty taste and is ideal for eating with cereals.

Learn how to make your own almond milk on our blog.

Try some almond milk…

1 Buttanut Almond Milk

2 Alternative Dairy Co. Barista Almond

3 Alpro Roasted Almond Unsweetened 

4 Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened

5 Alpro Almond Milk Sweetened

Soya Milk

Soya milk has been around for a very long time and is the most nutritionally similar to cow’s milk. In South Africa, Soya Milk is also the most affordable and widely available plant milk option.

Soya is high in protein but is still characterised as controversial at times, with uncertainty surrounding it’s nutritional profile and impact on hormone levels. Sit down with registered dietitian, Zani Veldsman, to dispell myths around this plant source.

It is moderate in calories and is a great source of protein and calcium. Soy milk also contains compounds called isoflavones and phytosterols that can have a protective effect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis, and can lower cholesterol.

Try some soya milk…

1 Simple Truth Soya Milk

2 Woolworths Soya Milk Unsweetened

3 Rude Health Soya Barista

4 Alpro Soya Milk Sweetened

5 MILKLAB Soya Milk

6 Good Hope Soya Soya Milk

Oat Milk

We have witnessed the range of oat milks available in South Africa expanding over  recent years. It is now one of the most preferred options and becoming more available in coffee shops and restaurants nationwide. Oat milk is sweet with 4% sugar more than other plant milks, a natural component of Oats. It has a thin consistency similar to low-fat milk. It contains a moderate amount of calories and has more protein than most plant-based milks.

Use your Oat Milk to make a Vegan, Gluten-Free Blueberry Cake here.

Try some oat milk…

1 Buttanut Oat Milk

2 Oatly Oat Drink

3 Alternative Dairy Co. Barista Oat

4 Minor Figures Oat Milk


6 Oh! Oat

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is similar to skim milk in terms of calories and is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. It also contains lauric acid, which boosts the immune system and maintains the elasticity of blood vessels. Coconut Milk is high in saturated fats and should be consumed in moderation. It is ideal for cooking and preparing curries.

Try some coconut milk…


2 Rude Health

3 Kara

4 Milky Coco

Rice Milk

Rice milk is less likely to cause food allergies compared to any other milk because it is nut and gluten-free. It has a naturally sweet and rich taste and can be used for cooking and baking. Rice milk is extremely low in calories, which are mostly from carbohydrates, and it has very little protein or fat. Since rice milk is a rather thin milk, it is less suitable for coffee.

Try some rice milk…

1 Spar Rice Milk

2 Woolworths Organic Rice Milk

3 Woolworths Coconut & Rice

4 Rude Health Brown Rice Drink

5 Earth & Co Rice Milk

Macadamia Nut Milk

Macadamia milk is still a niche market within our country, of which the one is locally produced and the other is a barista blend in high demand. South Africa is the largest producer of Macadamia nuts in the world, predominantly exporting to China. With the popularity of nut milk on the rise and only one local brand using the abundance of macadamia nuts grown on South African soil, we believe there is a lot of room to grow within this category.

This nut milk is low in calories but also very low in both protein and carbohydrates. It tastes great on its own and is particularly suitable for desserts and coffee.

Try some macadamia milk…

1 Buttanut Macadamia Milk

2 MILKLAB Macadamia Milk Barista Blend

Cashew Milk

Cashew Nut Milk is really delicious and easy to make at home! Unfortunately, cashew milk is not widely available in stores. If you’re lucky, you might come across a coffee shop or restaurants that offers home made cashew milk.

Cashew milk has a slightly nutty taste and is suitable for cooking and baking. The fat contained is mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat and can be a great choice for people with diabetes who need to watch their carbohydrate intake. Cashew milk has only about 2 grams of carbohydrates per cup. It is suitable for coffee and adds a thickness that works wonderfully in lattes.

Try some cashew milk…

1 Rude Health Cashew Milk

2 Herbivore Cashew Mylk

Niche Plant Milk Options

Plant milks can be made from a wide range of plant sources. Here are some more exotic options that are not widely available in South Africa, but still super tasty!

Try some exotic plant milk options…

1 Rude Health Tigernut Milk

2 EcoMil Hemp Milk

3 Rude Health Hazelnut Milk

4 The Bridge Bio Quinoa Milk

Barista Blends

There are over 80 commercial plant milk options available in South Africa, of which only 18 are specifically formulated to be paired with coffee. Plant milk options used to get a bad reputation for splitting in coffee.. That’s why most of the barista blends you come across will have added oil to make sure that they can give you the froth that you want!

On World Coffee Day, 1 Oct 2020, we chose 6 of our favourite options for a blind cappuccino taste test on YouTube, Coffee with Craig. Each guest was asked to score the cappuccinos based on presentation, creaminess and overall taste – with all of them receiving high scores.

The results were in the following order,

1 Rude Health Soya Barista

2 MILKLAB Macadamia Milk

3 Almond Breeze Barista Blend

4 Soma Oatify


6 Oatly Oat Drink

Flavoured Options

Who doesn’t love chocolate milk? There are so many tasty flavoured plant milk options available in out country. Here are some of our favourites..

1 Rude Health Hot Chocolate

2 Almond Breeze Vanilla Flavoured Almond

3 Good Hope Soya Chocolate Soya Milk 

4 Almond Breeze Chocolate Sweetened

5 Rude Health Chocolate Hazelnut

6 Rude Health Tumeric Latte

7 Good Hope Soya Strawberry

8 Herbivore Cashew Mylk

9 OK JA Just Now Cacao

Last updated: 20.05.2021

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