Growing up, milk was the one drink often recommended as a post-workout drink because it had a good amount of protein.
The good news for vegans is that some plant milks have a similar amount of protein to dairy milk.
We’ll compare the protein content in the most common plant-based milks, as well as the other macronutrients and environmental impact in this post.
Table of Contents
Protein in Plant-Based Milks
The information in the table below is for 1 cup (240 mL) of each type of milk. Note that these values may vary slightly by brand.
|Vegan Milk||Protein (g)||Calories (g)|
Legume-based milks like pea and soy top the list, while rice milk and coconut milk have essentially 0 protein in them.
I was surprised that oat milk actually has more protein than nut milks like almond or cashew (note the higher amount of calories though). Considering nuts are among the best vegan sources of protein, this was unexpected.
Comparing Nutritional Information of Vegan Milks
Depending on why you’re here, you might also want to know the fat or carbohydrate content of each milk.
I’ve expanded the above table to include that information.
|Vegan Milk||Calories (g)||Protein (g)||Fat (g)||Carbohydrate (g)|
Note that sweetened versions of any of these milks usually contain an additional 3-7 grams of sugar per serving (and 12-28 calories consequently).
Some quick observations:
- Most plant milks have a similar level of fat, but almond, quinoa, rice, and pea milk are all on the low end.
- Oat milk has the most calories and carbohydrates by far.
- Most vegan milks are low in carbohydrates aside from oat and rice milk.
A Closer Look At High Protein Vegan Milks
Keep in mind that non-dairy milks can also offer additional nutrients.
1. Pea Milk
I haven’t seen much pea milk in stores. The most common brand that I do see is Ripple pea milk.
On top of being the highest protein milk alternative with about 8 grams of protein per serving, pea milk (from Ripple at least) is usually fortified with a significant amount of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
One thing to consider is that if you’re already having vegan protein powder, it’s likely based on pea protein, and you may want to vary your protein sources.
2. Soy Milk
Soy milk is my go to non-dairy milk when I’m trying to add protein to something like vegan protein powder pancakes.
In addition to the 7 grams of protein per cup, you’ll typically see it fortified with:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
There are some common myths about soy being unsafe and raising estrogen levels, but current research clearly shows that soy does not raise estrogen levels unless you’re drinking some absolutely insane amount of soy milk.
3. Oat Milk
The nutritional facts for oat milk varied quite a bit depending on the brand I looked at.
Regardless, oat milk is an easy to find plant-based milk that is usually relatively higher in calories than other vegan milks, and also higher in carbohydrates.
In addition, you’ll usually find a small amount of:
4. Hemp Milk
Hemp seeds are a great vegan source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients.
It’s not surprising that hemp milk is a healthy choice.
In addition to having 3 grams of protein per cup, you’ll typically see a solid amount of:
- Vitamin D
The Environmental Impact of Non-Dairy Milk Alternatives
One final aspect you might care about is the environmental impact of these milks, since people who care about animals have a significant impact with people who care about the environment.
This graphic from the BBC clearly compares the environmental impact of the most popular plant milks to dairy milk.
It’s clear that all non-dairy milks have lower emissions, land use, and water use than dairy milk.
So regardless of which ones you drink regularly, it’s still a good thing.
Almond milk is a special case since the majority of almonds are grown in California, which is partly a desert. They are relatively water intensive compared to other plant milks. In addition, growing almonds requires some bee exploitation, so some even question if almond milk is vegan.
Pea milk was not included in the above graph because it’s not that common. However, it has a similar amount of environmental impact to soy milk (another legume).
Finding High Protein Vegan Milks
Unfortunately, even if you want to get pea milk or hemp milk, it may not be easy to find them.
That’s because the non-dairy market is currently dominated by almond, soy, and coconut milk.
Depending on where you live, you may not be able to find them at all.
While it is possible to make your own non-dairy milk for a much cheaper price, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- You’ll need a high quality blender
- Cleaning up the strainer (usually cheesecloth or something similar) is a big pain