Unprompted articles by lobbyists from the dairy industry and people who believe in juice detoxes litter our social media like landfills. The debate about cow’s milk and plant-based milk is amusing and sometimes warlike, with its most zealous enthusiasts purporting ‘facts’ with no base in science. I have long felt a need to do ‘right’ by the world and be upstanding, so I looked into it, which led to a degree in food science that took me overseas. My friends and I would often play around with recipes and come up with vegan alternatives for meat recipes. Maybe it was an occupational hazard. The pandemic brought me back home, and the glorious racks of soy, almond, coconut and oat milk became a thing of the past. After skimming through the few prominent brands here, I found a unicorn.
This is a personal anecdote of why I made the switch to a plant-based milk alternative – Mylk and how it has made my cup of coffee taste just a little bit better.
Cruelty in the dairy industry is something that has been well known. The hormone injections, the artificial insemination, depriving calves of the fair share of their mother’s milk – to name a few. Happy Cows is a Mumbai based company that is attempting to eliminate these practices to the best of their ability to build a more sustainable dairy industry. Even so, the burden on our dairy industry is too high. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), based on estimates by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), the demand for milk is likely to reach 180 million tonnes by 2022. This means that India will need to rely on the world market for imports. Because of the huge volume required, it will disrupt global milk prices. So economically speaking – we need to be looking at other viable options, much like the world is looking at alternate fuels. This responsibility falls, in large part, on consumers.
After due research, I settled on switching to oat milk as I found that it best replaced the nutrient content of traditional cow’s milk. But due to the pandemic, stocks were running low – especially for vegan items that under normal circumstances too are rarely carried by retailers in India. I came across Mylk manufactured by a Bengaluru based company – Goodmylk. The only problem? It was a mixture of oat and cashew milk. But I threw a hail mary and ordered it, seeing no other alternative available.
I received Mylk through an online order which was terribly delayed, but I am willing to chalk that up to the circumstances. There were five packs of 200 ml each. On tasting the product by itself, I could easily distinguish the taste of cashews which was worrisome because I didn’t want any flavour of the milk substitute in my chai or coffee – a problem I faced with soy milk earlier and why I stopped using it. I crossed my fingers and poured a little into my freshly brewed cup of espresso. No taste of cashews! Encouraged by this, I added more to the coffee and was delighted when it neither split nor added its own flavour. An added bonus was the fact that it felt really light on the stomach – a thing I had stopped experiencing with traditional cow’s milk (even fat-free) which would often leave me feeling heavy and bloated. The real test however would be adding it to chai where most other milk substitutes would split. Tentatively, I started adding it to the brewing tea little by little until it reached the quintessential chai colour. Et voilà! No splitting and no distinct flavour profile of the milk substitute. The consistency was definitely a little thinner than normal chai but nothing that you can’t live without.
The cashew-oat Mylk is shelf-stable at room temperature and needs to be refrigerated only when opened. It is recommended to consume it within three days after opening. One litre retails for 120 INR which I felt wasn’t an egregious amount of money given the price of its contemporary products.
On their website, they say they have dabbled with the recipes of their products to best imitate the traditional dairy products that Indian palates are used to. If the cashew-oat mylk is an ode to that, I might be inclined to try their other products too in the future, like their vegan butter and mayonnaise.