Why Is It Called Almond Milk And Not Almond Juice?

Have you ever wondered why it’s called almond milk and not almond juice?

After all, almonds don’t lactate, so technically they can’t be milked. Yet, we see more and more plant-based beverages marketed as “milk” these days.

The dairy industry and the FDA have called for the milk standard to be enforced, arguing that nondairy beverages are misleading consumers into purchasing nutritionally equivalent products compared to cow’s milk based on the marketing and packaging.

But is this really the case?

In this article, we’ll explore the history and science behind almond milk and other plant-based milks, and why they are called “milk” despite not coming from animals.

We’ll also delve into the ongoing debate about whether nondairy beverages should be called “milk,” and what this means for consumers.

So grab a glass of your favorite plant-based milk, and let’s dive in!

Why Is It Called Almond Milk And Not Almond Juice?

The reason why it’s called almond milk and not almond juice is simple: marketing.

Almond juice or almond oil doesn’t sound like a good substitute for milk. However, if you make the almond juice thicker and give it a milk-like structure, you can convince people that you have something that is better for you and can replace popular cow milk.

In fact, almond milk has been used widely as an animal milk substitute since the middle ages. Plant-based milks do what animal milks do, with the advantage of being acceptable for people who cannot or do not want to consume animal milks.

But why do we call it “milk” when it doesn’t come from animals?

The answer lies in the intended function of the beverage. Just like different traps are “mouse traps” because they all have the function of trapping mice, different kinds of consumable liquid, from cows, goats, coconuts, soy or almonds are all “milks” because they all perform the functions we associate with milk.

Non-dairy milks, including soy, almond, rice and coconut milk, are juices from nuts, seeds, grains and legumes that may be fortified with vitamins and minerals to deliver the equivalent nutrient profile and sometimes taste and consistency of cow’s milk.

The History Of Almond Milk: From Ancient Times To Modern-Day

Almond milk has been a popular beverage for centuries, with its origins dating back to ancient times. Almonds have been central to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines as far back as the Roman era, yet almond milk is likely a religiously-motivated, European innovation. The first mention of almond milk appears in a medical context in 12th century Salerno, but it quickly spread from the Mediterranean as far as Germany, England, and Denmark.

The popularity of almond milk in medieval Europe was in part due to the continent’s Christian faith and the dietary restrictions that came with it. At various times of the year – including every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and the 40 days of Lent – consuming dairy was forbidden. Almond milk offered a useful and tasty alternative. It could be added to a range of dishes in place of milk, allowing it to take centre stage in fast day dinners. It could even be turned into ‘almond cheese’ and a faux butter, by combining it with salt, sugar and vinegar.

Historian Carolyn Walker Bynum notes that medieval cookbooks suggest that the aristocracy observed fasting strictly, if legalistically. Meat-day and fish-day recipes were not separated in medieval recipe collections, as they were in later, better-organized cookbooks. But the most basic dishes were given in fast-day as well as ordinary-day versions. For example, a thin split-pea puree, sometimes enriched with fish stock or almond milk (produced by simmering ground almonds in water), replaced meat broth on fast days; and almond milk was a general (and expensive) substitute for cow’s milk.

Until the 16th century, almonds didn’t even grow in England, yet in the 14th century English book Forme of Cury, almost 25% of the recipes use almond milk in some capacity. In the 15th century English work Liber Cure Cocorum, around 17% of the 130 or so recipes contain an almond milk base.

Today, almond milk remains a popular alternative to cow’s milk for those who cannot or do not want to consume animal products. Non-dairy milks like almond milk are juices from nuts that may be fortified with vitamins and minerals to deliver the equivalent nutrient profile and sometimes taste and consistency of cow’s milk.

How Almond Milk Is Made: The Science Behind The Process

Almond milk is made by blending finely ground almonds with water and then straining the mixture to remove any solids. The result is a creamy, nutty-flavored liquid that can be used as a dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk.

The process of making almond milk can be done at home using a blender, almonds, and water. However, commercially made almond milk is usually ultra-pasteurized, which means it undergoes a heating process that kills bacteria and extends the product’s shelf life.

One of the challenges with homemade almond milk is that it lacks viscosity, or thickness. Commercial producers of almond milk add carrageenan as a gelling agent to increase its viscosity and emulate the mouthfeel of thick, fatty, “viscous” whole milk.

However, there is a natural way to thicken homemade almond milk without chemical additives. When heated to just under a boil, the particles in the almonds thicken the liquid in a process that is not fully understood but has been confirmed through scientific viscosity experiments. The result is a thicker, more viscous almond milk that can be used in place of cow’s milk in recipes and beverages.

Almond milk is a popular dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk because it does not contain cholesterol or lactose and is low in saturated fat. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E. As demand for plant-based alternatives continues to grow, almond milk sales are projected to reach $13 billion globally by 2025.

The Rise Of Plant-Based Milks: Why More People Are Choosing Nondairy Beverages

In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the selection of nondairy beverages offered to consumers. As of 2020, nondairy beverage sales make up 15% of milk sales. There are many reasons why more people are choosing nondairy beverages over traditional milk.

One reason is the rise in environmentally conscious and health-focused diets. Many people are becoming more aware of the negative impact that animal agriculture has on the environment and are choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products. Additionally, some people may have dietary restrictions or intolerances that prevent them from consuming dairy products.

Another reason for the popularity of plant-based milks is their availability and convenience. With more plant-based options available in grocery stores and coffee shops, it’s easier than ever to find nondairy alternatives. Additionally, many plant-based milks have a longer shelf life than traditional milk, making them a more practical choice for some consumers.

Lastly, the taste and texture of plant-based milks have improved significantly in recent years, making them a more appealing option for those who may have been hesitant to try them in the past. Companies like NotMilk claim to reproduce the flavor and mouthfeel of traditional milk using artificial intelligence-generated recipes, further expanding the appeal of plant-based milks.

The Milk Debate: The Dairy Industry’s Pushback Against Nondairy Beverages

The dairy industry has been pushing back against the use of the term “milk” for nondairy beverages like almond milk, arguing that it is misleading consumers into purchasing nutritionally equivalent products compared to cow’s milk based on the marketing and packaging. In fact, the dairy industry has called for the milk standard to be enforced by the FDA.

In 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Blue Diamond Growers, claiming that “almond milks” should not use the term “milk” because they are nutritionally inferior. Blue Diamond argued that the qualifier word “almond” should tip off consumers to the fact they are not purchasing dairy milk and therefore the term “almond milk” was not misleading. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit threw out the case on the basis that a reasonable consumer wouldn’t assume equivalent nutritional content of almond milk and dairy milk.

Despite this ruling, the dairy industry continues to push for stricter regulations on nondairy beverages. They argue that plant-based drinks masquerade as animal-based foods and cloud the real meaning of “milk.” However, critics say their real motivation is declining sales.

The debate over whether nondairy beverages should be called “milk” is ongoing. The vegan Miyoko’s Creamery recently won a lawsuit against California’s demands that it removes “butter” and other dairy-associated language from its vegan butter packaging. This ruling could potentially be applied to future nondairy beverage lawsuits.

There have been calls to revise the FDA’s standards of identity to include a nondairy beverage category because their nutritional content varies widely. The public should demand greater transparency and know what they’re eating, and demand that of the industries who sell it and of the agencies that regulate it. The more we know about food, the more we can make informed choices.

The Nutritional Value Of Almond Milk: How It Compares To Cow’s Milk

When comparing almond milk to cow’s milk, it’s important to note that almond milk is primarily made of water and therefore contains fewer calories than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is a rich source of naturally occurring sugars, healthy fats, and protein, making it a better source of protein than almond milk. However, for those concerned about weight loss or reducing calories, almond milk may be a lower-calorie substitute for cow’s milk.

Almond milk is also slightly healthier because it contains vitamin D, which cow’s milk does not. However, cow’s milk is a better source of calcium and provides 8 times more naturally occurring, high-quality protein in every 8-ounce glass.

It’s important to note that almond milk does not have the healthy fats, protein, and fiber that you’d expect from this nut-based beverage. Plus, it isn’t appropriate for those with nut allergies.

What’s In A Name? The Significance Of Calling Nondairy Beverages Milk

The use of the term “milk” to describe nondairy beverages has been a controversial issue. The dairy industry and the FDA have argued that using the name for plant-based drinks confuses people and misleads them into purchasing nutritionally equivalent products compared to cow’s milk based on the marketing and packaging.

Despite the wishes of the dairy industry, it does not appear that the FDA has directly restricted the use of the “milk” term for non-dairy beverages. This has led to lawsuits, such as the unsuccessful suit against Blue Diamond Growers, a prominent producer of almond milk, alleging that their almond milk products should be labeled “imitation milk” because the nut-based alternative was a non-nutritionally equivalent imitation of dairy milk.

However, critics argue that the real motivation behind the dairy industry’s pushback against nondairy beverages is declining sales. This is further complicated by the fact that society hasn’t invested in the science to determine what the composition of foods are, making it difficult to establish regulatory oversight.

Ultimately, what’s in a name is significant because it affects how consumers perceive and purchase products. While some argue that nondairy beverages should not be called “milk,” others believe that their intended function – to provide a substitute for animal milk – justifies the use of the term. The public should demand greater transparency and information on food labels to make informed choices about what they consume.