Plant based milk refers to the non-dairy vegan beverage prepared from extracting plant material. These are alternatives to animal milk and provide a similar creamy mouth feel along with flavor and aroma.
They have been consumed since the 13th century across various cultures and were known as milk-like plant juices back then. Coconut milk has been known as a traditional beverage and a significant ingredient in various cuisines. Plant milk is comprehensively utilized in preparation of curries, ice creams, vegan cheese, and yogurt.
Generally, cereals and legumes are harnessed to produce plant milk due to the presence of beneficial constituents such as dietary fibers, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Therefore few legumes and oilseeds have been widely utilized for preparation of plant milk which ishealthy, affordable and nutritious.
Plant milk is generally fortified with nutrients like proteins, vitamins and minerals such as calcium to be sufficient in providing the nutrient requirements. The plant milk is naturally deficit in few nutrients, hence calcium is the most common fortificant that is used in the form of Calcium Tri Phosphate and Calcium Carbonate.
TYPES OF PLANT MILK
Plant based milks are available in various types that are derived from plant sources like nuts, legumes, cereals, and seeds. For e.g. – Almonds, Oats, Coconut, Soy, Cashew and Rice. Apart from these there are also a few more types of plant milks available in certain regions of the world which are extracted from chia seeds, hemp, maize, pumpkin seeds, amaranth, quinoa, hazelnut etc.
The plant milk industry is mainly concentrated with Almond and soy milk as the consumers have more preference towards them pertaining to their desirable taste.
Plant-based milk is primarily preferred over animal milk by consumers who are lactose intolerant or are allergic to milk proteins. Plant milk has benefits of being lactose free, cholesterol free and low in calories, thus making it a suitable option for the health conscious population as well.
EXCEPTIONS AND LABELLING
- Plant based milks that contain lower protein than animal milk should have a label stating that the product is not appropriate as an alternative of animal milk for children who are below 5 years of age.
- They aren’t proper substitutes to breast milk, infant formula or animal milk for children below 2 years of age as they are low in protein, fat, calories and iron.
- It is advised by law that fortified plant milk should contain atleast 6g of protein per 250 ml of milk to meet the nutritional requirements.
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a draft stating to prevent using the word “milk” on the package of plant based or non-dairy products and restricted its use only for animal origin products.
The general technique for manufacturing of plant milk involves the following steps:
- Solution for lactose intolerance
- Wide variety of flavors and nutritional content
- Do not contain hormones (except soy)
- Less usage of water compared to dairy milk
- Creates fewer emissions
- Animal cruelty free
- Presence of allergens
- Naturally plant milk lacks essential nutrients
- Fortification is required
- Thin consistency.
- Fortified plant milk costs more than dairy milk
Plant-based milk alternatives are a major research area in the newer product development category of food science. The main concerns revolving around plant milk is regarding its shelf life, stability and nutrient composition. They are widely investigated through the development of advanced processing, technological interventions and fortification techniques for developing a nutritionally complete product with high overall acceptability.