'Dairy-free' is one of the central tenets of the wellbeing crew at the moment, and as a result you'd be forgiven for thinking cows' milk is bad new for everyone. In fact, lactose intolerance only affects 5 per cent of the UK population, though that's no reason not to experiment with the other kinds of milk on the market.
There are benefits to all of the options out there and there are also a few key factors to consider such as your activity levels and the quality of the rest of your diet. So whether you are a vegan, lactose intolerant or just get bored easily, here are the pros and cons of the different varieties...
Cows' milk ranks most highly in the protein stakes amongst the milks out there. It is also a good source of vitamin B12, vitamin D and provides a number of extra minerals such as iodine and phosphorus. It is also a key source of calcium. Those who do not eat animal products should consider taking a supplement of vitamin B12.
If the milk is not organic, it can contain chemicals, hormones and antibiotics that you don’t necessarily want to be consuming. There are also some ethical and environmental concerns that are associated with the dairy industry.
Perhaps the most popular dairy-milk substitute at the moment, almond milk is low calorie and low fat. It also contains many of the minerals and nutrients of cows milk, such as vitamin E.
Despite being made from nuts, almond milk has little protein and, if you get the sweetened variety it tends to be loaded with sugar that you don't need.
Soy milk contains a dose of protein to rival that in cows' milk. It also has less sugar than cows' and contains phytoestrogen which can aid calcium absorption.
Soy milk has a controversial reputation due to the heavy amount of processing it goes through. The unfermented kinds of soy can also cause an imbalance of sex hormones for men and women, which have been linked to negative effects on fertility and the menstrual cycle so it is worth monitoring your intake.
Coconut milk comes from the meat of coconut, which is packed with healthy fats alongside vitamins, iron and fibre. Although it has a high calorie content, it can help boost your metabolism and fat-burning ability.
Tinned coconut milk is often too thick to use as a pouring milk substitute but is useful in cooking and baking.
Perhaps one of the most niche dairy-milk substitutes out there, this option has a host of goodness. It is a good source of protein and contains healthy fats like omega-3. Hemp is also a good source of other nutrients and minerals like zinc.
Not the cheapest option out there, slightly harder to get hold of – and it goes off quickly.