I normally buy soy milk because I prefer the taste and consistency, and also because it's a good source of protein. But I noticed that some other non-dairy milks such as coconut milk seem to have very little protein content. Does that make them a bad substitute for cow's milk?

Which plant-based (non-dairy) milks have the highest protein content? What are the lowest?


Soy milk is the only common plant-based milk with a protein content comparable to dairy milk, which has a protein content of up to 3.4g per 100ml (the lowest fat cow's milk sold has the highest proportion of protein). Nic also found that pea milk has a similarly high protein content, around 3.3g per 100ml, but this may not be as widely available as other plant milks.

Here is a table based on data from various sources (because products vary), partly on the tables here on One Green Planet and sources as linked in the table.

  Milk           Approximate protein in 100ml (g)
 soy            3.0
 hemp           1.2
 oat            1.0
 almond1        0.4
 coconut        0.1
 rice           0.1

1 Other nut milks have comparable content

Does that make them a bad substitute for cow's milk?

In terms of protein, yes, most plant milks are poor substitutes, and you should make sure you are getting enough protein from other sources.

Plant milks are also low in calcium and B2 unless they have been fortified (which is common).

Plant milks do provide various vitamins, minerals and beneficial fats (not saturates like cow's milk) and quantities of fibre, and have different flavours, textures and culinary properties which make them suitable for various purposes (other than providing protein)!

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    Looks like pea milk has about the same protein content as soy milk! – Nic May 13 '18 at 22:11
  • Your conclusion isn't true. Whole Milk only clocks in at 3.2g per 100g. That's a 0,2g difference from soy milk, making them almost identical in protein content. This is still fairly low, as you'd still have to drink 6-7 cups to meet your daily intake, which is a lot. In conclusion, liquids aren't the best source of protein in general. – Noobie Jun 26 '18 at 8:02
  • @Noobie I don't know what you mean... I wrote that soy milk is comparable to dairy milk, while other plant milks are not. Is that not true? – Zanna Jun 26 '18 at 12:32
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    I think they are referring to "they are poor substitutes" --- most are poor substitutes :) – Erica Jun 26 '18 at 16:13
  • @Erica but that was responding directly to the part of the question referring to other [non-soy] milks... should I edit? – Zanna Jun 27 '18 at 20:27

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