There are 22.6 million posts on Instagram using the hashtag #plantbased. And millions more if you combine other hashtags for plant-based food (i.e. #plantbaseddiet #plantbasedmeal #plantbasedrecipe…you get the point). At my grocery store, shelves seem to be transforming weekly with new plant-based choices that didn’t used to exist.
I say “Bravo!” to more plant-based options because you all know by now (as I’ve said it before), we as a population aren’t getting enough fruits and veggies in our diet. BUT fruits and veggies aren’t the only thing we aren’t getting enough of. Dairy products are on that list too (milk, cheese and yogurt), which puts us in quite the conundrum. With new plant-based dairy options in the marketplace, right beside those familiar foods we are used to seeing, is it common knowledge that they are nutritionally different?
Here's why I ask. The perfect example fell right into my lap a couple of weeks ago, or rather right into my grocery cart. My online grocery order came with a substitution for the yogurt I normally purchase. I ordered a whole-milk vanilla yogurt. And the substitution that was chosen for me was a vanilla almond milk yogurt. A vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, soy free “milk yogurt”, according to the package.
I could have turned down the substitution when I picked up my groceries, but I was so intrigued by it (Why would they give me a dairy free sub for a dairy item? Do they not know the difference?), and I was too lazy to go in and pick something different if we are being real, that I opted to accept the sub, compare the nutrition, and give it a try.
You are on the edge of your seat awaiting my thoughts. I can tell.
Let’s talk nutrition facts first. I’ll let you have a look at the differences here:
Siggi's Whole Milk Vanilla Yogurt (serving size 1 container 125g):
Cal: 130, Total Fat 4.5g, Sat Fat 3g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 20g, Sodium 60mg, Total Carb 11g, Fiber 0g, Sugars 8g, Protein 12g, Vit A 4%, Vit C 0%, Calcium 10%, Iron 0%
Kite Hill Almond Yogurt (serving size 1 container 150g):
Cal: 160, Total Fat 10g, Sat Fat 0.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 0g, Sodium 10mg, Total Carb 22g, Fiber 2g, Sugars 18g, Protein 3g, Vit A 0%, Vit C 0%, Calcium 4%, Iron 2%.
While there are several differences in the nutrients, personally the three that impact my purchase decision the most are these: sugar, protein, and calcium. While Siggi’s is lower in sugar, high in protein, and a good source of calcium, the plant-based option disappoints on all of these. In a slightly larger container, the almond based version is over twice the sugar, one quarter the protein, less than half the calcium.
That makes this plant-based substitution very different from a nutrition perspective. And nowhere near an adequate substitution for me personally.
One thumb down from me for nutrition.
I know what you’re thinking. Maybe what it’s lacking nutritionally, it will make up for in taste! I’m sorry to say that’s not the case either.
Make that two thumbs down.
With sugar as the second ingredient (and coming in at 18 grams per serving), it was too sweet for me. I did like the vanilla flavor, but the sweetness was too overpowering…and then there was texture. It was runny, kind of like a melting milkshake and my banana slices sank right to the bottom. For comparison, my spoon will stand straight up in my favorite yogurt. I am giving it the benefit of the doubt that it could make a great smoothie ingredient given the texture and sweetness.
At the end of this experiment, my takeaway is this: All yogurt is not created equal.
Items placed side by side on shelf, doesn’t make them equal. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “Other products sold as “milks” but made from plants (e.g., almond, rice, coconut, and hemp “milks”) may contain calcium and be consumed as a source of calcium, but they are not included as part of the dairy group because their overall nutritional content is not similar to dairy milk and fortified soy beverages (soymilk).”
Did you hear that? Their overall nutrition content is not similar to dairy. While some substitutions may be a better fit for your diet or lifestyle, make sure you know what nutrients you’re looking for, not what hashtag they fit into.
My tips for you this week: read package ingredient statements, use the nutrition facts panels to look at nutrient content, and don’t allow substitutions for your favorite yogurt when you order groceries online (ha ha!)! You never know what might end up in your cart!
Thanks for stopping by! While we’re on the subject, what’s your favorite yogurt? I’m a Siggi’s #fangirl myself and they’re not paying me to say that. It's just that delicious in my book.