More Than Half Of People Prefer This Milk Alternative

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've most likely noticed the explosion of interest in plant-based diets recently and the corresponding increase in the availability of vegan alternatives to meat and dairy at the grocery store. According to Bloomberg, sales of such substitutes topped $29 billion in 2020, and are projected to increase to $162 billion by 2030, which would represent a whopping 7.7% of the global protein market.

According to Plant Based News, non-dairy milks are currently the largest category in the plant-based market, taking up 16% of the market, up from 12% in 2018. Almond milk is far and away the leader in that field, the outlet reports, accounting for 59% of all plant-based milk sales, followed by oat milk 17% of sales. Although these two non-dairy milks are among the most popular, there seem to be more nut and grain milks on supermarket shelves than ever, ranging from barley to flaxseed to pistachio (via Instacart).

We know that we feel overwhelmed when trying to choose non-dairy milk at the store so we were curious which vegan alternative shoppers tend to grab the most. We asked 515 U.S. participants what their favorite plant-based milk type is, and a whopping 55% named one category in particular.

Nut milks are the preferred non-dairy alternative

Stroll down the plant-based milk aisle at the supermarket these days and you're bound to see dozens of non-dairy alternatives to cow's milk, ranging from black bean to chia seed to sesame (via Instacart). Long gone are those dark times when the only alternatives seemed to be soy and rice milk, with today's beverages catering to a range of dietary preferences and limitations. It can be hard to know which plant-based milk to try when faced with all these options, which is why we wanted to know which category is favored most.

In a poll, we asked 515 people which milk alternative they prefer, and more than 55% (or 285 respondents) named nut milks such as cashew, almond, and hazelnut. A distant second place, named by 19% or 99 respondents, was that classic choice of soy milk. Coconut milk is preferred by nearly 14%, or 70 respondents, and nearly 9%, or 46 respondents, reach for rice milk. Hemp milk, which is made from seeds from the Cannabis sativa plant (but contains far too little tetrahydrocannabinol to produce a psychoactive effect) wasn't a very popular choice among poll respondents, coming in dead last at just 2.91%.

Next year, we'll have to add vegan potato and banana milks to the survey options, which the New York Times reports will be coming to the United States soon.