Hemp milk and soy milk are plant-based alternatives to cow's milk. These products can serve as a dairy substitute for vegans and people allergic to cow's milk protein or who are lactose intolerant. Both also are suitable for those who have a tree-nut allergy. For people with a soy allergy who also wish to avoid dairy, hemp milk is a good option.
Hemp milk is made from the seeds of the hemp plant. It doesn't contain any tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive component of the marijuana plant. Soy milk is made from soybeans. Because soybeans have a bitter taste, soy milk usually is heavily processed and sweetened to make it more palatable. Hemp and soy milk can be found in shelf-stable packages and the refrigerated section of grocery and health food stores.
Hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, while soybeans are high in calcium, protein and potassium. Both hemp and soy milk are cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. They often are fortified with calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Sweeteners often are added to hemp and soy milk, but unsweetened options are available. Both milks come in flavors, such as vanilla and chocolate. Thickeners such as xanthan gum are added to help prevent the water from separating out.
Most soybeans in the United States are genetically modified. If this concerns you, look for soy milk made from organic soybeans.
Soy milk can cause gas in some people. This is because it contains oligosaccharides, carbohydrates that are difficult for the body to digest.
Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop that improves the soil and doesn't require pesticides.