The Rise of the Alternative
Visit your local supermarket and you’ll find a refrigerated aisle overflowing with an array of milk choices such as almond, hazelnut, peanut, tiger, walnut, and much more! As well as all the nut options you also have coconut, hemp, spelt, quinoa, pea etc. Somewhere a health-food start-up is milking it.
Sainsbury’s now stocks around 70 different options. It seems unthinkable now, but as recently as 2008, alternatives to cow’s milk largely meant soya. For anything else, you’d need to scour health-food shops for long-life cartons of rice milk buried in the back of the shelf.
However, plant milks are no longer fringe. Just over one in 10 of Pret a Manger’s hot drinks in the UK are ordered with dairy alternative milks (organic soya milk or organic rice-coconut milk). According to research firm Mintel, UK plant milk sales have grown by 30%.
Buoyed by the rise of the vegan diet, especially by Millenials, the plant milk boom is way bigger than just switching your milk. To converters, almond and oat milk are the next wave in a fundamental shift towards a more conscious, sustainable way of living.
Along with the myriad of plant-based milks, there is also a trend for the ‘superfood latte’. If you’re a foodie or love Instagram wellness accounts, you’ve probably seen images of bright, beautifully coloured lattes, ranging from green, blue and yellow to pink and even black. Unlike ordinary lattes, where contrasting colours of milk and coffee are used, superfood lattes usually don’t contain caffeine and use turmeric, beetroot, matcha tea and even mushrooms to add colour and the nutritional benefits that come along with them.
One you’re probably very familiar with is matcha latte, which is simply matcha green tea powder blended with frothy almond or coconut milk and maybe a generous sprinkle of vanilla. A better alternative to your morning cup of coffee, it will give you a boost of energy that will be slowly released throughout the morning without causing the sudden rise and then crash of normal caffeine.
You may also have tried golden milks or turmeric lattes, where turmeric powder is mixed with black pepper, spices, and added to frothy plant-based milks Golden milk comes from the ayurvedic tradition, where turmeric has been used for centuries. This spice contains special compounds and recent studies have shown its amazing properties.
If you’re not a lover of bright colours, there are still superfood lattes that are for you. Chai is still popular and mushrooms, such as Reishi and Lion’;s Mane, are being used to create mushroom lattes. These mushrooms are on the rise as science discovers more of their benefits.
But the new kid on the block seems to be a latte that seems like it came straight out of a fairytale. The beetroot latte with its vivid pink colour is delicious mixed with ginger, and this latte is fast taking the stage as the trendy alternative.
So, give a little thought to adding some alternatives to your menu as these trends seem here to stay!