THIS UNNAMED GEOLOGICAL formation is the likely result of wind, rain and time eroading away surface material to expose what at one time would have lava (magma) that had cooled and solidified. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
COMING INTO OR out of the Chisos Mountains, this is the northwest view and is several miles south of Panther Junction and the headquarters for Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
THE CLARET CUP is covered in barbed spines and blooms a reddish, cup-shaped flower from about April to June or July in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
THIS VIEW FROM a formation called, “The Window,” looks out from the westside of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
INDIAN HEAD MOUNTAIN and its southern region offers this “leaning” wall of geology at the western boundary of Big Bend National Park. The rocks of the foreground are boulders ranging from man-sized on up. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
MASSIVE AND TOWERING, this wall of the geology is at least a couple of hundrend feet high and situated in the Indian Head area of Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
WIDE-OPEN PANORAMAS and mountainous terrain such as this are routine along roadside in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
THE SOUTHWEST SIDE of the Chisos Mountains, also known as the Chisos Mountain Basin and home to the lodge in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2011 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
A FALLEN TREE is an impassable barrier in an otherwise debris-free dry riverbed in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
INDIGENOUS TO TEXAS, New Mexico and Arizona, Javelinas in Big Bend National Park genetically differ from swine. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
LOST MINE TRAIL in Big Bend National Park, looking southward over Juniper Canyon, the Chisos Mountain’s Northeast Rim and into Mexico. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
A TREE SILHOUETTED against the night sky as seen from Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
THIS VIEW EAST of a volcano is an illusion of the setting sun streaming through the Chisos Basin area behind Casa Grande Peak in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
WRIGHT MOUNTAIN in background at Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
A VIEW WESTWARD after sundown from the Indian Head area of Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved.
A CAMERA COMPENSATION for the limited light after sundown provides this view westward from the Indian Head area of Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson/Camera One. All Rights Reserved.
SANTA ELENA CANYON after sunset, as seen from the Chimneys in Big Bend National Park. Copyright © 2010 by DL Tolleson/Camera One. All Rights Reserved.


Author, Photographer, Researcher, Artist, Adventurer and Buccaneer Extraordinaire

“Or at least that’s the plan each morning after coffee.”

Publication History: Got Milk Alternative Copyright © 1994, 2009 by DL Tolleson. All Rights Reserved. Excerpts from this work are permissible if author attribution is included. However, beyond this no part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.

Tolleson, DL. “Got Milk Alternative.”, 2009.

Tolleson, DL. “Got Milk Alternative.”, 2016.

Description: Commentary » Nutrition » Health—1,127 words.

Commentary: I may catch flak for this, but except for raw milk I’m not entirely convinced that milk is all that great of a thing for people. The milk industry has really pushed the pasteurized, vitamin-enhanced product as an excellent nutritional source of calcium but to get any sort of meaningful calcium out of milk, you have to be nearly falling-down-full of the stuff.

And the problems don’t end there. My research of many years past found that pasteurized milk is highly susceptible to light. For example, about four minutes of sunlight breaks down milk’s whey proteins (amino acids containing sulfur) and thus alters the taste. Exposure to the dairy case display lights, typically fluorescent, causes similar problems. The unsaturated fatty acids in milk lipids (milkfat triglycerides / triacylglycerols) are oxidized under fluorescent lighting, and studies indicate that anywhere from 15 minutes to four hours is enough to alter the taste—all caused by the breakdown of ingredients under the onslaught of light during periods of exposure. Even added Vitamin D is not immune. If you’ve ever noticed a difference in the taste of light-blocking carton milk vs. light-susceptible “plastic” container milk, this is probably why.

I won’t belabor you with the links to the various studies but any search engine research for “fluorescent” and “milk” should be enough to keep you busy for a while.

Interestingly, the Lactase Milk enzyme (which is what is required inside a person’s intestinal track in order to digestively break down milk sugar) has historically been present in humans only during the weaning years. However, in milk-consuming populations there has been a chromosomal adaptation—a mutation—allowing those people to continue consuming dairy products throughout their lives. This change has apparently come about due to an evolutionary adaptation brought about by the daily consumption of milk. In other words, being “lactose intolerant” is the “normal” human condition from which there has been genetic adaptation due to widespread milk consumption. There are, of course, many underdeveloped countries where milk consumption is nowhere near equal to that of the United States or Europe and the genetically lactose intolerant disposition of those populations remains unchanged.

But I have also read about issues concerning growth hormones added to milk. For a deposition I once videotaped a Dallas Internal Medicine Doctor (one John Fitzgerald at the University of Southwestern Medical Center), and during a break I mentioned my concerns about milk while asking his opinion. His concern wasn’t so much the growth hormones but the fat and calcium contents. He agreed that osteoporosis is a case of calcium loss rather than insufficient calcium intake and went on to say that “there were many better ways to get calcium than drinking milk.”

While I can’t recall from where I once encountered it, someone once wrote or remarked that humans are the only animals to drink the milk of other animals.

At any rate, all of these things (limited benefits of calcium content, light-induced deterioration of nutritional value, potential growth hormone issues) have led me appreciate raw milk and to look for alternatives to pasteurized milk.

What follows here is a taste test I perform over a period of about a week and which involved alternative “milk” products. The objective was to identify a non-milk products that presented the flavor and liquid consistency of Vitamin D Whole milk while free of pasteurized dairy drawbacks.

At the bottom I’ve also included a recipe for “homemade” Oat milk that I found somewhere. The recommendation of adding Stevia (a natural sweetener and dietary supplement) is my own contribution.

—DL Tolleson

DL Tolleson

Rice Dream brand Vanilla Enriched Rice Milk
With partially milled brown rice, oleic safflower oil and vanilla, this milk alternative ranks at the top as being most similar to cow’s milk in taste. I was pleasantly surprised. Unlike other milk alternatives flavored with vanilla, this product is enhanced by vanilla rather than changed by it. It is very close to some brands of cow’s milk in taste and yet much more “clean” across the pallet. To a lesser degree than cow’s milk there is a slight coating effect to the mouth and palette.

Silk brand Vanilla Soymilk
This is up there pretty close to milk. I have a strong affection for Vanilla, and in this case that additive defeats the “powdery” or almost “chalk-like” consistency of the plain “soy milk.” It is an additive however, and as such is present in the taste.

Westsoy Plus Soymilk-Vanilla
This brand practically ties with Silk brand. The taste is comparable, but slightly lighter. This slight difference is probably owed to the breakdown of ingredients. Whereas Silk contains no Saturated fat per server, Westsoy has 0.5 grams, which contribute to its total fat gram content (3.5g, just like Silk). Westsoy also weighs in with 130mg of Sodium (versus Silk’s 95mg) and 19g of Carbohydrates (versus Silk’s 10g).

Rice Dream brand Rice Milk
This product taste amazingly similar to Westsoy’s Vanilla Soymilk. It is still slightly lighter than that product and is very similar in taste to the rice that is sweetened and occasionally served with meals in the south (or at least in years past, served by my mother and aunt). There is a slight coating of the mouth and throat as an aftereffect.

Almond Breeze Vanilla
Let me say right up front: The product does NOT taste like milk. Having cleared this up I’ll now add that this product is incredibly great-tasting. The almond flavoring is laced behind the vanilla additive and the drink is very sweet (from the Cain juice). It comes in at 16g of carbohydrates per serving (versus the original Almond Breeze’s 8g). If I were looking for taste unrelated to cow’s milk, this one would rate right up at the top.

Pacific brand Oat Milk
This product comes nowhere near tasting like cow’s milk, which is typically what I look for. It taste similar to oats with milk added (which it isn’t). The taste is smooth on exposure but does tend to coat your mouth and throat in much the same way as cow’s milk, just not to such a degree. I really like this product, but I can’t endorse it as similar to cow’s milk—I recommend it, as long as you understand this.

Pacific brand Vanilla Oat Milk
This one is a tad odd. What Vanilla does for Soymilk it does not do as well for this product. Although the flavor is relatively good, the product has an almost “powdery” quality that most nearly equates to a “mix-it-yourself” drink. Similar to the Pacific brand Oat Milk, this product tends to coat the mouth and throat, as cow’s milk does, just not to such a degree.

Pacific brand Multigrain Milk
This one is made of a mixture of oat groats, rice and soy. (Oat groats are whole, minimally processed oats that have not been extensively processed; they are produced by first hulling the oats and removing the inedible outer husk. What remains is a whole grain.) The “powdery taste” effect, however, is not dissimilar to the Vanilla Oat Milk made by this company, and the “oat taste” (due to the main ingredient of oat groats) is the same as Pacific’s “regular” Oat Milk. I cannot recommend this product for tasting like cow’s milk or for even having an appealing flavor.

Almond Breeze
Made with almonds this is also a tad odd for a drink. It isn’t so far down on this list because it necessarily taste “bad,” or even because it taste less like cow’s milk than the previous entry. It is just odd, and as such I wouldn’t be apt to buy it in the future. I would most compare the almond flavor to the slight aftertaste left in the mouth following actual almonds, or to the aroma of almonds upon just opening a can of them. It isn’t that this product is overpowered with almonds, but rather that they linger in the flavoring and it comes accross as strange.

Silk Chocolate Soymilk
Don’t waste your time or money. It doesn’t taste bad, per se, but it isn’t all that good either. Tasting almost medicinal, it presents as if there were a tad too much aspartame—even thought that isn’t an ingredient. The bottom line is that it can’t compete with most other chocolate milk drinks.

Westsoy Unsweetened Vanilla Soymilk
Next to the Soy industry’s attempt at chocolate milk, this is the biggest blunder. Upon opening the product the vanilla aroma is certainly enticing but the pleasant experience ends there. I champion low carbohydrate products, and at 5 grams per 8 ounce serving this is low by any standards. Unfortunately, the absence of a sweetener leaves this product utterly bland. It presents with an aftertaste much like stale pecans. Don’t buy this one. Don’t even look at it. Hide your eyes if you must.

Closing Remarks
The above brands (as well as others) offer chocolate versions of their products, but after my initial Silk Chocolate encounter, the concept held little interest for me. The price range for these items is from $1.16 to $2.50 or so. The soy products come in refrigerated quart or half-gallon sizes while the others are available in 32 oz shelf containers. While the unopened refrigerated soy products keep for about a month, the un-refrigerated, unopened shelf products keep for up to six months. Shelf items should be refrigerated after opening and all of these products should be consumed within 7 to 8 days after opening. Your local grocer should carry the soy products and anything they don’t stock or won't order can be found at most health food suppliers.

Recipe for Oat Milk

• 4 cups (cold) water

• 1 ripe banana.

• 2 cups cooked oatmeal.

• 1 tsp vanilla.

• Pinch of salt (optional).

• Sweeten to taste (if desired). You can use pure Stevia Extract to reduce the sugar/carb content. Available at any health food store, Stevia is about 30 times as sweet as sugar with 42 mg (roughly a pinch’s worth) equaling the sweetness of a teaspoon of sugar. (Don’t confuse Stevia with the refined product called Stevioside that is 300 times sweeter than sugar). Stevia has no carbs or calories and is reportedly effective in regulating blood sugar. I recommend KAL brand as it presents with a less obvious aftertaste. A combination of Stevia and a tablespoon of honey will take the edge off of the Stevia. Also, when buying KAL Stevia, pay VERY close attention to the ingredients. They sell one product with the addition of maltodextrin. Do not depend on the front of the label as those have reflected inconsistencies. On the bottle's backside look for the word “none” under, “Other Ingredients.” (I do use the maltodextrin version, but only for making Kool-Aid.)

• Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth—about 2-3 minutes.

• Refrigerate.

• Shake before using.