ASK MISS BLISS – IS RICE MILK RIGHT FOR YOU? & CAN MY TODDLER BE VEGAN?

by Miss Bliss

Hi Bliss,

I know that Rice Milk doesn’t pack the protein punch of soy or almond milk, but how does it fare nutritionally? Better or worse than soy?

Yours,
Dairy Free

Dearest Dairy Free,

There are three types of dairy-free milks sold in most health food stores today: (1) soy milk, (2) rice milk, and (3) almond milk. All three come in various flavors including plain, vanilla, chocolate, unsweetened, and sometimes, carob. (Carob unsweetened almond milk is hard to find, but one of my personal favorites. Add a little agave nectar and it is just dreamy!)

SOY MILK
Soy milk is the only vegan milk that is comparable to cow milk in terms of protein content. Cow milk has 8 grams of protein, and soy milk can have between 8 and 11 grams of protein per serving. So if you are concerned you are not getting enough protein in your vegan or vegetarian diet, you may want to include soy milk as a part of your daily diet.

As I mentioned in my blog, Is Too Much Soy Dangerous?, soy may be dangerous for non-Asian women with family histories of breast cancer. However, soy milk is safe if you limit total daily soy consumption to one glass of soy milk a day and one serving of tofu (or other traditional soy product).

RICE MILK
Dearest Reader, you are correct when you write that rice milk does not have the protein and good fats that soy milk has. Rice milk is packed with carbohydrates and should not be considered a nutritional replacement for dairy milk because it lacks the fat and protein found in other milks. Most rice milk brands are sweetened with brown rice syrup or evaporated cane juice, which ups the sugar, carbs, and calorie content. However, its sweet taste does make it an excellent replacement for dairy in baked goods.

Rice milk is also low in protein content, having 1 to 2 grams of protein per serving. So why would you choose rice milk over soy, cow and almond milk? If you have nut allergies, are lactose-intolerant and/or have a history of breast cancer in your family, rice milk may be the right vegan milk for you.

ALMOND MILK
Believe it or not, store-bought almond milk is NOT high in protein. Most brands of almond milk sold in stores have only 1 gram of protein per cup. However, “what sets almond milk apart is its high vitamin E content. According to Blue Diamond Growers’ specifications, one cup of almond milk (240 ml) contains 14.99 IU of natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol). In contrast, the USDA nutrient database reports one cup of soymilk has 3.31 mg alpha-tocopherol and 1.35 mg vitamin E added” (click here to read “Thoroughly Modern Milk”).

If you make almond milk yourself, and do not strain out the almond pulp, you may get up to 5 grams of protein per serving. Raw vegan enthusiasts say it can be easy to make your own almond milk. Take a cup of raw, organic almonds, soak them in purified water overnight, drain and rinse them in the morning, then blend with four cups of water in a high-speed blender. The milk will be chalky when it is not strained, but it will be full of all the protein , fats, and nutrients almonds are famous for. According to sixwise.com, “Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts you can eat. They’re rich in magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, the antioxidants vitamin E and selenium, and calcium. Almond milk, then, may be one of the more nutritious milk alternatives on the market.”

Vegan milks have no cholesterol or saturated fat and are lower in calories than milk. They are lactose-free, environmentally sustainable, and do not harm animals when produced. Based on your protein needs and your personal family history, I am sure you will find the vegan milk that is right for you.

XOXOXOXOXO
BLISS WARRIOR

Dear Miss Bliss,

I am making the slow transition into veganhood, if you will. My daughter is only two, though. I do not give her meat, but obviously she consumes a lot of other dairy products, mostly milk. I was wondering if you knew any healthy alternatives to cow’s milk for a thriving two year old toddler?

XOXOXO
Vegan Mom

Dear Vegan Mom,

After your child is six months old, almond milk can be used instead of cow milk. Raw food enthusiast, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., recommends breastfeeding your child for the first six months, and then introducing almond milk as a breast milk supplement.

Soy milk and soy products should be avoided as soy is already being overused in baby food and processed foods to up protein counts. Many health advocates say that more research needs to be done to see how high levels of soy protein affect children. According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, “Soy milk, rice milk, and homemade formulas should not be used to replace breast milk or commercial infant formula during the first year. These foods do not contain the proper ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrate, nor do they have enough of many vitamins and minerals to be used as a significant part of the diet in the first year.”

For healthy vegan children, the Vegetarian Resource Group recommends the following diet plans:

Table 17: Diet Plans for Vegan Children
TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS (AGE 1-3)
FOOD GROUP NUMBER OF SERVINGS
GRAINS 6 or more (a serving is 1/2 to 1 slice of bread or 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked cereal or grain or pasta or 1/2 to 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal)
LEGUMES, NUTS, SEEDS 2 or more (a serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh or TVP; or 1-1/2 to 3 ounces of meat analogue; or 1 to 2 Tbsp. nuts, seeds, nut or seed butter
FORTIFIED SOYMILK, ETC 3 (a serving is 1 cup fortified soymilk, infant formula, or breast milk) [I PERSONALLY RECOMMEND ALMOND MILK]
VEGETABLES 2 or more (a serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked or 1/2 to 1 cup raw vegetables)
FRUITS 3 or more (a serving is 1/4 to 1/2 cup canned fruit or 1/2 cup juice, or 1 medium fruit)
FATS 3 (1 tsp. margarine or oil) (use 1/2 tsp. flaxseed oil or 2 tsp. canola oil daily to supply omega-3 fatty acids)
CHILDREN (AGE 4-13)
FOOD GROUP NUMBER OF SERVINGS
GRAINS 8 or more for 4 to 8 yr olds; 10 or more for 9 to 13 yr olds
PROTEIN FOODS 5 or more for 4 to 8 yr olds; 6 or more for 9 to 13 yr olds
VEGETABLES 4 or more
FRUITS 2 or more
FATS 2 or more for 4 to 8 yr olds; 3 or more for 9 to 13 yr olds
OMEGA-3 FATS 1 per day
STARRED FOOD ITEMS 6 or more for 4 to 8 yr olds; 10 or more for 9 to 13 yr olds

Notes: Serving sizes vary depending on the child’s age.

Congratulations, wonderful reader, for choosing a healthier life for you, your child, and our environment.

XOXOXOXO
BLISS WARRIOR
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{ 1 trackback }

Dairy Free Diet
February 4, 2008 at 7:30 am

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynda February 6, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Bliss,
I love your blogs but I must object here!

“After your child is six months old, almond milk can be used instead of cow milk. Raw food enthusiast, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., recommends breastfeeding your child for the first six months, and then introducing almond milk as a breast milk supplement.”

This is bad advice!!

Common allergens should not be introduced to infants under 1 year of age. This includes tree nuts, which is what almonds are categorized as. Introducing allergens too soon can not only trigger an allergic reaction in a young baby, but can also create allergies.

Furthermore, there is no reason to supplement breastfeeding with other milks as long as one is still nursing. Especially before a child is 1. Human milk is amazing in how it always provides the best nutrition for a child. It has just the right ingredients in just the right amounts. No other milk, cow, soy, almond or otherwise, comes close. Not to mention live antibodies and a myriad of other ingredients in breast milk that cannot be duplicated.

Even if a mother is no longer breastfeeding, the only other “milk” given before 1 year of age should be infant formula. All other milks are lacking in nutrition, leading to problems like anemia.

Other than that… rock on. Peace.

Reply

Muneca February 6, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Though my toddler’s father objects to it all…( he objects the everything anyway) I will try some of the tips you put out there. I am trying to figure out the proper foods she can have to be able to absorb the proteins and such. Soy does inhibit absorbtion ( sp) of iron and such also. I will try almond milk to start and see how she feels with that. Her father says that cow’s milk is closest to human milk and that she won’t get enough vitamins A & D ( that its already fortified with anyway) I hope to find alternatives in fortified foods to get her adequate supply of proteins and vitamins. Thank you so very much for the table also…
you broke it down simply and thank you so very much. This venture is important to me ( though silly to others I know around me) and I want to be extra careful with my growing tot. Muwah!!!

Reply

adriana February 6, 2008 at 7:11 pm

this is great advice. i will definitely consider the tips when i have my own children. changing the bad habbits can control other health problems that exist in my family: hgh cholesterol and diabetes, and they can be prevented. i will def. break the chain of these horrible conditions at least in my offspring.!

Reply

Amy O February 6, 2008 at 7:12 pm

There’s always my favorite option, Hemp Milk.

Reply

ashley February 6, 2008 at 7:12 pm

i must put my two sense in here.

i bet you a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor will offer super advice with this topic.
as we all know certain essential vitamins, mineral, amino acids etc., are crucial for the development of a healthy wee one.

i would seek an expert opinion. no offensive missy b. :-)

Reply

bliss warrior February 6, 2008 at 7:13 pm

i deeply appreciate all the helpful responses to this blog.
i do not claim to be an MD or a professional health person.
i try to make sure that every bit of research i include in my posts
includes a link back to the articles or books i found them in.

i ALWAYS appreciate the smart, thoughtful, and brilliant women
who comment on my blogs…
this is supposed to be a forum for debate,
and ALL of your comments are important to me.

but, yes, when it comes to the health of your child,
you should definitely NOT depend on me,
but follow the resources I post
and ALWAYS consult a doctor before changing your child’s eating habits.

XOXOXOXOXOXO
BW

Reply

Miss Bliss February 6, 2008 at 7:19 pm

i like hemp milk, too!

thanks for the comment.

Reply

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