Navigating plant-based milk options: which is best?

While it seems that granola families in the Pacific Northwest have been using plant-based milk alternatives since the birth of the universe, recent consciousness about the environmental impact of dairy milk and its industry has led others worldwide to reconsider what milks they are using. To put it in perspective, the intense judgment that comes with not substituting oat milk in your chai drink at Starbucks is equivalent to being deemed ‘uncool’ after you say no to kids peer-pressuring you to do drugs. So, here is the inside scoop on the evolving world of plant-based milk alternatives, as told by two Oregon-raised teens. 

Oat milk has seen a surge in popularity this year, especially since its memorable appearance in the 2021 Super Bowl Oatly commercial featuring its founder playing piano alone in an oat field singing, “wow, wow, no cow.” Not only is the dairy alternative ranked the best environmentally, as it uses less water, but it is also raved about by baristas due to its ease to froth that is comparable to regular milk, something other milk substitutes don’t offer. Many oppose switching to a plant-based alternative out of fear that they’ll lose the nutritional value. However, oat milk is said to be packed with more calcium and Vitamin D than the average dairy milk. Oat milk is currently a rising star in plant-based milk pop culture. 

“It’s having a moment, the moment feels too big,” Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein said in an interview with OverUnder. 

Claire’s Overall Rating – 6.8/10
Izzy’s Overall Rating – 8/10
Eco-friendliness – 9/10
Taste – 8/10


After the almond milk craze of the ‘10s, Gen Z took it upon themselves to swiftly cancel it. Are we really surprised? Truthfully, almond milk consumes the most water out of plant-milks, so if you are on your next step in a sustainability journey, it is important to take that into account. However, it does have a smaller environmental impact than most other milks in terms of emissions. Whew, I’m glad we cleared that up. 

Almond milk is wonderful in Cheerios, smoothies and boxed mac n’ cheese. If you’re looking for the best brand, make sure to try Califia Farms’ variety of almond-based milks. 

Claire’s Overall Rating – 7/10
Izzy’s Overall Rating – 7.8/10
Eco-friendliness – 5/10
Taste – 9/10

Last on our prestigious list of milk alternatives is coconut milk, which proves very versatile and has likely withstood the ever-changing world much better than your freshman year friend group, as it’s actually been around for about 2,000 years. Derived from coconut flesh soaked in water, its high oil content gives it an appealing creamy texture. Higher in fat, coconut milks are a great baking substitute for dairy-free banana bread and other treats, as well as a lovely addition when incorporated into dinner dishes such as curry. Lower-in-fat coconut milks are the perfect liquid for smoothies, shakes and breakfast cereals. 

Claire’s Overall Rating – 8/10
Izzy’s Overall Rating – 8.5/10
Eco-friendliness – 9/10
Taste – 8/10