Got Oats? Green Steve Chooses His Milk Alternative

golden oats

A couple of weeks ago I set out on a mission to find an alternative to cow’s milk that will enable me to reduce my carbon footprint by up to 145kg per year without compromising on taste and my enjoyment.

The main thing that I realised throughout all of this is that even if you eat a cereal that has lots of flavour like I tend to do (I’m talking Frosted Shreddies, Cookie Crisp or Special K Honey Clusters), then no matter what you put on it, the overall taste is somewhat different to cow’s milk and it varies depending on what you use.

I found that the drink you pour over you cereal can actually enhance the flavour of the cereal or it can give a slightly odd after taste and that is what I have based my final decision on.

Bow Down To The Mighty Oat

As if my title hasn’t already given it away, I can reveal that I have decided to swap cow’s milk for oat milk because it was the one which I found had the best taste and a very good consistency. I was worried about how watery these cow’s milk alternatives would be, and so it proved with soya milk and rice milk which tended not to be viscous enough for my liking. Oat milk, on the other hand, was very similar to cow’s milk in that it has that slightly gloopy look and feel to it.

Feel The Goodness

While oat milk is only slightly lower in calories, sugar and total fat when compared to cow’s milk, it has significantly lower saturated fat and far more fibre. The major downside is the low amount of protein it contains (1g per 100ml versus 3.6g per 100ml of cow’s milk) but I have lots of chicken and fish in my diet so I’m not too concerned about that.

Oats are, however, good for you in other ways. My oat milk contains soluble fibre which has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and 250ml also contains one third of your daily recommended intake of beta glucan which is effective at lowering blood cholesterol and boosting the immune system. I would guess that my diet has been lacking in both of these things so I’m happy to be making this switch on health grounds too.

Counting The Cost

The only downside with oat milk is that it is substantially more expensive than cow’s milk in percentage terms. Now I tend to go through 1 litre of the stuff in 3 days and I did the same with 2 pints of cow’s milk so here is a rough comparison of prices for these and the 2 other alternatives; rice and soya:

Product Cost (per litre / 2 pints) Cost Vs. Cow’s Milk % Difference
Cow’s Milk £0.89 - -
Oat Milk £1.89 + £0.60 + 67%
Soya Milk £1.89 + £0.20 + 22%
Rice Milk £1.38 + £0.49 + 55%

Prices from

So over the course of a year, switching to oat milk is going to cost me roughly £73.20 more. Now this is fine for me but if we were to take a family who gets through a litre a day then the additional cost would be £219 per year which might prevent some people making the same switch.

Oats Float My Boat

In conclusion, I can say that switching to oat milk is going to not only reduce my carbon footprint, it will also be good for my health, and it tastes pretty good too.

One last thing remains and that is to try and find out the carbon footprint of Oatly (which is the only oat milk available that I could find) as accurately as possible. In my previous post I made an educated guess that oat milk has a very low carbon footprint based on figures I had found for wheat production and a homemade oat milk recipe.

I will make it my mission to find out a more precise figure for the greenhouse gas emissions of oat milk and my first step will be to contact Oatly direct to ask if they have any figures to hand. If not I’ll hunt elsewhere.

On a similar note, seeing as how I am moving away from dairy in terms of milk, I also made the decision to buy olive spread instead of my usual margarine – not only is it far lower in saturated fat, it too has other health benefits and should have a much lower carbon footprint.

What do you think about my choice? Have you tried oat milk yourself? Leave me a comment below and suggest any other alternatives I might try.

I also give a lot more insight into these and other green issues on Twitter and Facebook so don’t forget to follow me on these too.

Steve (152 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

15 Responses to “Got Oats? Green Steve Chooses His Milk Alternative”

  1. greenecobear
    January 29, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Hey greensteve what do you think the carbon footprint of coconut milk would be?
    it’s probably super expensive and not as widely available plus shipping footprint ain’t too good either but i think it has massive health benefits. appreciate your imput! cheers

  2. GreenSteve
    January 30, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Hi greenecobear, thanks for dropping by. That’s an interesting one, having looked at the ingredients of some of the coconut milks, it seems most use coconut extract with water and thickener.

    If that coconut extract was shipped across by sea and then the mixing was done in the UK, the carbon footprint might not actually be as bad as you think. Rice Dream for instance is made with rice from Italy but because that can be shipped by sea, it negates much of the environmental impact.

    Hope that helps!

    • greenecobear
      February 5, 2012 at 3:50 PM

      thanks greensteve, CF not as bad as i thought it would be, also was unaware some rice could come from italy, bonus. keep us posted on those worms!:)

  3. Denielle
    February 16, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I gave my two year old daughter soya milk yesterday as an alternative to cow’s milk. She loved it and asked for more!! I have tried her on rice milk in the past but she didn’t like it and to be fair it looked and tasted like watered down skimmed cow’s milk!!! My mum likes soya milk with porridge because it makes it extra creamy and seeing how dairy products can be bad for your digestive system a little change here and there can only been good for the body and the planet!

    • Steve
      February 17, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      Hi Denielle, I’d highly recommend trying your daughter out with Oat Milk too as it really is delicious and I’d also try and ensure that any milk alternative you do give her comes enriched with vitamins and calcium as these really are important for a growing child.

  4. Sam
    March 1, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Hi GreenSteve!
    Have you thought about almond milk? Apparently you can make it yourself from blending almonds and water in a blender! Not done this myself but heard it’s meant to be quite nice?

    • Steve
      March 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM

      Hi Sam, yeah I’ve recently seen almond milk advertised on the TV so I might give it a go, especially if I run out of Oatly at some point (which might happen since Tesco no longer sell it and Waitrose only ever stocks a few cartons at a time).

  5. Gina
    May 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    Make homemade oat milk.. That is what I do and it is very inexpensive. There are lots of different receipts on the Internet so you can ind one that suits you!

  6. Zoe
    June 10, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    I have Oatly every morning and i love it. I’m dairy intolerant and tried all the others, Soya milk isn’t great for anyone because it’s so refined and high in sugar and estrogen (made me incredibly ill, so i gave that one up!). Rice milk i actually like the taste of, but it raises blood sugar levels much higher than oat milk and as a hypoglycemic i felt the effects. Oatly is amazing. And i love the taste. If you need an added flavour in your cereal i go for cinnamon and carob powder ( its delicious, taste like chocolate but has nothing to do with cocoa and is good for you!)!

    Bow down to the mighty oat indeed!

    P.s oat cakes – also delicious :)

    • Steve
      June 11, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Hi Zoe, thanks for popping by and taking the time to comment. I totally agree with you and everyone I introduce to Oatly says the same, it’s just so tasty and far better for your health and the environment. Some stats from DEFRA show we drink over 1.5 litres of milk per person per week so as a country we could reduce our carbon footprint considerably by switching to something like oat milk. My next challenge is to try and make some oat milk myself and see how it tastes.

  7. hal
    July 5, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    Almond milk has been recommended from a taste perspective but I have not managed to get my hands on it yet.

    • Steve
      July 5, 2012 at 9:15 AM

      Hi Hal, yeah I’ve yet to try almond milk out – I’m loving the oat milk so much I don’t think I need to try anything else right now but eventually I might tire of oats and need a change…then the almond milk will be first on my list

  8. Claire
    August 9, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Does any one know which milk is best to use for hot drinks as I have found that some soya milks curdle in coffee and tea so this has put me off using them for the rest of the family, I always need to have some cows milk in the fridge for hot drinks.

    • Steve
      August 9, 2012 at 9:08 AM

      I think it’s going to be a case of trial and error – I don’t drink hot drinks myself but I’ve had a relative try oat milk in tea and it seemed ok to me – she certainly didn’t complain.

  9. April 5, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    I’ve been using Tesco’s own brand sweetened soya milk for years and I’ve never had it curdle in tea or coffee. I use it on cereal and cook with it too, without a problem.

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