Many people are opting for plant-based milk instead of cow's milk because of lactose intolerance, allergies, environmental and health concerns, as well as, personal beliefs. With veganism on the rise, grocery stores are stocking their shelves with more meat and dairy alternatives. Recent studies have shown that cow milk isn't as healthy as we once thought it was.

Not only is dairy the number one source of saturated fat, but it also has a strong link to autoimmune diseases. I stopped drinking dairy milk years ago and have switched to almond milk. I feel a lot better now and actually much prefer the taste of almond milk to dairy milk. Are you thinking of switching to plant-based milk? Here are some benefits of four dairy milk alternatives!

Almond Milk

Unsweetened almond milk is low in calories. One cup contains around 35 calories. Although almond milk is low in protein, it's high calcium content makes up for that. Almond milk actually has more calcium than cow's milk. A 240 ml glass of almond milk contains 330 milligrams of calcium, while cow's milk contains 309 milligrams of calcium.

If you opt for plant-based milk, you'll need to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet from other foods. Leslie Beck, registered dietitian and author of The Plant-Based Power Diet, said that because most plant-based milk contains around the same amount of calcium as cow's milk but not the same amount of protein, people who are following a dairy-free diet and only drink almond milk will have to get protein from somewhere else in their diet.

Unsweetened almond milk also doesn't raise blood sugar. Because of this, almond milk is a great choice for diabetics and people on a low-carb diet. Low fat cow's milk contains 5% carbs, totaling 12 grams in one cup. On the other hand, unsweetened almond milk contains only 0.6% carbs (1.5 grams) in one cup. Not to mention, almond milk has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease because it's high in Vitamin E and contains healthy fats.

Soy Milk

“If you’re trying to replace cow’s milk, the best option, nutritionally speaking, is soy milk,” said Amanda Lapidus, a Toronto-based registered dietitian. One cup of soy milk contains around 95 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 330 milligrams of calcium. Lapidus said even though unsweetened soy milk has the most balanced nutritional profile, many people don't like the flavor profile. Some people also can't drink soy milk because of allergies.

“If someone has a soy allergy, I find people lean more towards almond milk or cashew milk,” she said. “If someone has a soy and a nut allergy, we’re steering more towards coconut milk with the understanding that we’re looking at other [nutritional] things too, to complement these milks.”

Like almond milk, soy milk is also lactose-free. Lactose is the natural sugar that comes in cow's milk. Many people who have trouble digesting lactose are switching to plant-based alternatives. These dairy milk alternatives eliminate the negative consequences that can come from ingesting lactose; such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas, and cramps.

Coconut Milk

When compared to cow's milk, soy milk, and almond milk, coconut milk has the lowest amount of calcium and protein. Coconut milk is also lactose-free. Many vegans use coconut milk as the liquid base for smoothies and milkshakes. Coconut milk is high in calories and fat so if weight loss is your goal, you would be better off switching to almond, soy milk, or Zilch.

Although coconut milk is high in fat, it's mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), in particular, lauric acid. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is a beneficial compound that's an antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. Monolaurin destroys a wide variety of disease-causing organisms. This is why many say that drinking coconut milk can help protect the body from infections and viruses.

Zilch ™

Zilch™ Creamer is a dairy-free, zero-calorie creamer. It was created as a creamer for coffee and tea, but we have been told by customers that they use it for a variety of things. Some people use it in their cereal in place of milk and others also use it in recipes that call for milk. You can basically use Zilch™ in place of milk any way you use it.

By using Zilch™ instead of cow's milk, you could save yourself 8 pounds a year. The average creamer has 40 calories per serving. If you drink 2 cups per day that's 80 calories per day. In one year, you're consuming 29,200 calories just from creamer! One pound of fat has 3,500 calories, so drinking 29,200 calories in your coffee adds up to just over 8 pounds of weight gain per year.

Since Zilch™ has zero calories, you won't gain any weight from adding cream to your coffee and tea. Zilch™ comes in three flavors: Original, Hazelnut, and French Vanilla.

Click here to learn more about Zilch™.