There’s no stopping the rise of dairy free milks – whether oat, almond, coconut, rice or a multitude of other types.
Indeed, sales increased by 155 per cent between 2011 and 2013 alone, according to Mintel research.
It comes after a rise in awareness of lactose intolerance – where people lack the enzyme, lactase, that enables them to digest lactose, a natural sugar, in milk.
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, five per cent of Britons are diagnosed with the digestive condition.
However, approximately 65 per cent of the global population have the genetic variant that leaves them with a reduced ability to digest lactose.
“A large chunk of the Western world are born without the lactase enzyme, and it makes them unable to break down the natural sugars in dairy,” said Rhiannon Lambert, a Harley Street nutritionist.
“People are increasingly aware that they don’t have to put up with bloating any more.”
As well as a swollen belly, symptoms of lactose intolerance include flatulence, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and feeling sick.
However, excluding dairy can be dangerous since it is a major source of particular nutrients.
Vitamin D, calcium and vitamin B12 are important for bone health, and maintaining healthy nerves and blood cells.
They can help prevent conditions such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia and rickets.
“If people don’t perform the switch between cow’s milk and dairy-free milk correctly they could become deficient in essential nutrients,” said Lambert.
“One of the simplest ways to ensure you don’t miss out is to look for dairy-free alternatives that are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin B12 and calcium.
“You can also find these nutrients in non-dairy foods. For example, there’s a misconception that calcium can only be found in cow’s milk, but broccoli is also a rich source.”
A surprising benefit of dairy-free milk is its low sugar content.
“Unsweetened almond milk is lower in sugar compared to the natural sugars in dairy milk,” explained Lambert.
She recommended that if people are concerned that are lactose intolerant they should visit their GP who can perform a test and not to self-diagnose.
Rhiannon Lambert has designed a balanced meal plan for plant based milk alternative brand Dream’s 21 Day Challenge, making it easy to cut dairy from your diet. Visit www.mydairyfreedream.com/21daychallenge to download your Dream Challenge pack.