It might be a popular low-calorie version of milk, but anyone asking if skim milk is vegan is going to be disappointed? Skim milk is not as it is still derived from cows, and although it is lower in fat and has other benefits, it is not vegan.
We’re going to take a closer look at why there is such confusion, and take a deep dive into the plant-based alternatives that are suitable.
Why Is Skim Milk Not Vegan?
Skim milk has gone through a process to remove some of the fat, which is how it gets its name. It is still derived from the same animal source and is a dairy product that makes it not vegan.
Although veganism is part to do with the health benefits, it is also focused on preventing and avoiding cruelty to animals.
Dairy farming is one of the worst industries for this. Cows are artificially inseminated every year and their calves are usually taken away from their mothers within a day of being born. This causes distress for both.
They are also injected with steroids and female calves repeat the cycle once they are the right age. Cows should live up to around 20 years, but on dairy farms, they are typically so worn out and often lame from constantly being pregnant that they are killed at 5.
Is Skim Milk Vegetarian?
Yes, it is. Although there are vegetarians that avoid dairy products so it would not fit into the diet of such a sub-group.
It is animal-derived but does not contain meat, making it fine for a vegetarian to consume if they choose.
How Is Skim Milk Made?
The process involves removing milk fat from regular milk, making it lower in calories.
The most common method for creating skim milk is spinning whole milk in a centrifuge, this is how the fat droplets separate and can then be removed.
Do Some Vegans Drink Milk?
Although there are Lacto vegetarians, there are no lacto-vegans as it would be impossible to combine dairy with a vegan diet.
Lacto-vegetarians avoid meat but consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese among others. This is generally the term used to describe most vegetarians, it is just a little more descriptive.
Because of the increasing numbers of vegans in the world, the subcategories of what vegetarians describe themselves as have grown.
How Often Is Skim Milk Used In Food?
Several foods would otherwise be vegan if it wasn’t for skimmed milk, so it is important to look out for them.
Some of the most common are as follows:
This is a little general, but you will often find skim milk to improve the mouthfeel of certain foods. The texture is often favorable as a result, smoother from the creaminess without using the full-fat version.
Some other emulsifiers and stabilizers can be used such as vegan-friendly guar gum, but this is only going to be ok if the entire recipe is vegan.
Margarine isn’t the healthiest product in the world and is usually made with a combination of water and vegetable oils with some additives in there.
From a vegan point of view, it is the inclusion of skim milk that is often problematic. Some can be made with real butter, but they are made up of emulsifiers, preservatives, vitamins (usually A & D), flavorings, and colorings.
The traditional recipe was far more holistic, but as manufacturing processes evolved to cater to a wider market, so did the ingredients needed to preserve such foods.
Since skim milk tends to be around 0.1% fat, any alternative needs to be low in fat. It also needs to have a watery consistency compared to other milk.
Here are the two plant-based milks that spring to mind when considering the above:
Although it is a little higher in fat, soy milk is known for being a healthy alternative that is high in protein and can support muscles and organs.
Soy milk is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Much like skim milk, it is an excellent source of calcium, often fortified with nutrients to add to the benefits. A fully vegan alternative that can be enjoyed in cereals, coffee, and even baking as you would use skim milk.
This has a slightly stronger taste than skim milk but aside from that, it is a good alternative. It is lower in fat than soy milk and is made from ground almonds and water.
It is easy to make at home, but the convenience of premade, plus the fortified nutrients that are often included are always tempting.
There are often thickeners added, but since it is sold as a plant-based alternative to regular milk, it should always be vegan.
Almonds milk is low in protein with a cup providing around 1 gram, but it is a natural source of Vitamin E that helps protect the body from free radicals.
Almond milk is lower in calories but it does lack protein.
There are other viable alternatives such as coconut milk and oat milk.
So, skim milk is nowhere near vegan, as it is the same as every other dairy product on the market.
Still, with the increase in plant-based milk, you never have to go without it in most reputable coffee shops, and adding them to your morning breakfast or recipe will produce fine results.