For vegetarians, vegans, and even omnivores who are intolerant to animal milks such as goat and cow milk, plant-based milks (also referred to as "mylks") are a daily food staple. Unfortunately, these products are often more expensive than conventional cow's milk. These pre-made products (such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, etc.) you buy at the store are often fortified with vitamins and minerals, which is why we choose to purchase them over making our own.
Here's the thing: You can easily and cheaply fortify your own plant milk at home with a few simple ingredients. As a dietetics (nutrition) student in college, I learned how to make my own plant-based milks and fortify them with calcium and vitamins D3 and B12, the nutrients in cow's milk that are missing from plant milks.
In addition to this fortification guide, I'll also show you how to make a gallon of soy milk in one batch. Here's a short and simple guide for plant-based–milk consumers looking for help!
How to Fortify Soy Milk or Other Vegan Milks
To fortify your milk, add the following amounts of the products listed below:
27 grams of Calci-K® powder added to a gallon will yield around 300mg of calcium per 8-oz (1 cup) serving. A 12-oz bag of Calci-K® powder will last for around 12.5 gallons of milk at 27 grams of powder per gallon of milk.
If you would like to reduce the calcium content of the milk, I would recommend simply adding 13.5 grams instead, which will yield 150 mg of calcium per cup. A bag of 12 oz will then last for around 25 gallons of milk.
Adding 4 ml of liquid vitamin D3 to 1 gallon of milk will yield 500IU per 8-oz serving (1 cup). If you would like to reduce the amount of vitamin D3, I would recommend simply only adding 2 ml, which will yield around 250IU of vitamin D3 per cup.
At 4ml per gallon, a bottle of vitamin D3 will last around 7.5 gallons of milk.
Warning: Adding too much vitamin D3 or any fat-soluble vitamin can be dangerous, especially to children.
Adding 60 drops of liquid vitamin B12 will yield around 375 mcg per 8-oz (1 cup) serving. If you would like to reduce the amount of vitamin B12, I would suggest simply only adding 30 drops, which will yield 187.5 mcg of vitamin B12.
At 60 drops per gallon of milk, a 1-oz bottle will last for 30 gallons. At 30 drops, it will last for 60 gallons. Vitamin B12 is water-soluble.
How to Fortify a One-Gallon Batch of Vegan Milk
300 g calcium per 8-oz serving
Liquid vitamin D3
500 IU per 8-oz serving
Liquid vitamin B12
375 mcg per 8-oz serving
Which Plant Milk Do I Recommend?
If I had to choose one of the plant milks to recommend over animal milks, it would definitely and undoubtedly be soy milk. You'll find plenty of arguments online about soy milk's plant estrogens that some claim cause cancer, thyroid disease, and estrogen-mimicking effects.
Many of these same individuals promote the consumption of animal milks, particularly raw milk, which is a great way of getting a potentially deadly foodborne illness. It seems they forget the simple fact that animal milks contain estrogen, which is many times more potent than phytoestrogens found in plant products such as soy.
Animal milk products contain more harmful fats (saturated) than healthy fats (PUFAs). (And yes, most saturated fat is bad for you. MCTs might have some health benefits but aren't well studied.)
Soy milk is the only plant milk that has a protein content comparable to animal milks. Both contain complete proteins at around 7–8 grams in a single-cup serving. Soy milk and cow milk are quite similar in most nutrients, but cow's milk contains essential nutrients not found in soy milk. Soy milk contains significantly more omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) and antioxidants. In fact, the phytoestrogens found in soy milk are thought to be useful in the prevention of some cancers and heart disease.
Unfortunately, soy milk is lacking a significant amount of calcium in comparison to cow milk, which is the nutrient most people seem to associate with milk. Soy milk is also lacking vitamin D3 and vitamin B12, which are naturally found in cow milk, but are also often fortified in dairy products to boost nutritional values and increase sales.
Fortunately for you, the instructions above will help you to fortify your plant milks, and below is also a recipe for soy milk you can make at home for a better and cheaper product than what you can find pre-made in most supermarkets.
How to Make Soy Milk (Recipe for One Gallon)
Finding high-quality soybeans makes a high-quality product. Many soybeans have a strong, beany taste that's hard to cook out. The best-tasting variety of soybean I've come across is the Laura bean variety.
To make the soy milk, you will need the following tools:
- Large steamer
- Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
- Large pot
- 4 cups soybeans, dry
- 1 tablespoon geniune vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon iodized salt
- 1 cup erythritol (optional)
- 1/2 cup sucanat sugar or coconut sugar (optional)
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
- Spread out four customary cups of dry (starting with dry beans will drastically reduce beany taste) soybeans into a large steamer that's already reached a rolling boil and maximum steam production. Be careful not to burn yourself. Keep children clear of steam.
- Steam the soybeans for 10 minutes (on high), then blend 2 cups of beans with 8 cups of water and strain through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth until all beans are blended and strained. If you don't strain before cooking the soy milk, the milk will burn and ruin the entire batch.
- Pour your raw soy milk into a large pot (the larger the better because soy milk tends to foam up and overflow). Bring the soy milk to a simmer and cook for an additional 20 minutes without a lid. You may want to add an additional 4 cups of water at the beginning to compensate for water loss through evaporation.
- Once the soy milk has finished cooking, add 1 teaspoon of iodized salt, 1 tablespoon of genuine vanilla extract (you can easily make your own for much cheaper than store-bought varieties), and sweetener of choice to taste. I recommend 1 cup of erythritol and 1/2 cup of sucanat sugar or coconut sugar. You may also blend in 1 teapsoon of xanthan gum to help thicken and keep the soy milk from separating.
- Almond Milk vs. Cow’s Milk vs. Soy Milk vs. Rice Milk
Each type of milk has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on a person's diet, health, nutritional needs, or personal taste preferences. Here, we compare milks including almond milk, dairy milks, soy milk, rice milk, and coconut milk.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Soy
This fact sheet provides basic information about soy—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.
- How well do plant based alternatives fare nutritionally compared to cow’s milk? | SpringerLink
Due to the issues like lactose intolerance and milk allergy arising from the consumption of cow’s milk, there has been an increased demand for plant-based alternative milks around the world.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Carlyjj on January 12, 2020:
@meganrh That is false. Vegan d3 exists and is derived from lichen. You can look up vegan d3 supplements. Now whether they come in a liquid d3 form at this time I'm not certain, but vegan d3 exists.
Jafar Sadeq on April 25, 2019:
Very useful information for dairy intolerant people. Thanks!
MeganRH on March 05, 2018:
Hey I just want to let you know that Vitamin D3 is not vegan. It's made from fish oil or lanolin, which comes from wool. If it's from lanolin vegetarians can use it, but vegans should use D2 supplements.
Otherwise I really like your article and I'm gonna use it to make my own fortified soymilk!
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 19, 2016:
Excellent information that anyone can use practically and especially beneficial for those who are intolerant of dairy milk.