Since beginning my health journey, one of the biggest gross-out factors for me is the dairy industry….the cruel treatment of animals, the hormones, antibiotics, puss, overwork, overcrowding, disease….ew ew ew. This said, I love cheese, and yogurt was a morning staple. What’s a girl to do? I’ve avoided dairy products as much as possible (almond milk has replaced dairy milk and I eat oatmeal more than yogurt), and if I eat store bought cheese and yogurt I choose brands that tout organic production and ethical treatment of animals – like Stonyfield. Imagine my surprise when I discovered non-dairy yogurts at Fresh and Easy (and an even larger selection at Mother’s Market!). Ohhh guuuuurl, have these always been available?! I never knew. So I decided to give a few flavors from select brands a try, and my taste test results are below. Let me know if you’ve discovered any delish non-dairy yogurts on the market!
1. Amande Cultured Almond Milk- strawberry flavor
Talking points: Vegan, Dairy free, Soy free, Gluten Free, No GMO, 6 Live Active Cultures, Fruit Juice Sweetened.
Visual: The color is slightly off, a dingy sort of pink. Much more watery than a dairy yogurt.
First bite: Slightly grainy, faint taste of wax, the strawberry flavoring is pleasant. Chunks of strawberries add good flavor to an otherwise bland base.
Overall thoughts: Not as satisfying as dairy yogurt, but a reasonable substitute. There are words on the label I don’t recognize, so if I didn’t have a desire to try almondmilk yogurt (the first I’ve seen on the market!) I would have skipped simply because I didn’t have time to do the research at the store. Further research proved the ingredients to be clean and acceptable, and Amande even has a great FAQ section on their website. Downside is high sugar (16g), although it’s all derived from fruit – no sugar of any kind is added, AND you can cut this number by selecting the plain flavor.
2. So Delicious, Cultured Coconut Milk – strawberry flavor
Talking Points: Vegan, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Gluten Free, No GMO
Visual: Thicker than the Amande, consistency more comparable to a dairy yogurt.
First bite: Pleasant smell, and flavor is good…..consistency is much more consistent than the Amande brand. Can get hints of coconut along with the strawberry flavor.
Overall thoughts: Like the Amande, the strawberry has a lot of sugar – 18g, but you can cut this number down to 7g by opting for the plain flavor. I noticed that all brands tested contain tricalcium phosphate, and I’ve come across varying accounts of it’s origin and safety to humans. As I understand, it is found in nature as a rock….however, my confusion comes when some of the uses are discussed – used in fertilizers, porcelain and dental powders, etc. I don’t really want to eat something that is also used as fertilizer….or to hold Granny’s teeth in. Any input from readers on this ingredient would be greatly appreciated! I’m also disappointed to learn about So Delicious’s use of the carcinogen carrageenan – because of this I will not be buying So Delicious again.
3. Almond Dream, low-fat non-dairy almond milk yogurt, by Hain Celestial Group – strawberry flavor
Talking points: No organic claims on the label, but cites “non-genetically engineered,” also dairy free.
Visual: Consistency is a bit like Amande (runny), but slightly more stable than Amande. Color is actually worse than Amande’s washed out pink.
First bite: No strawberry flavor…actually just tastes like cultured almonds. Strawberries listed on ingredient list, however, no chunks of strawberry like previous brands. More like a custard than a yogurt.
Overall thoughts: Says “non genetically engineered” but no “GMO Project” label. No organic claims for any ingredients, including the almonds. The flavor is not great….where Amande had a slightly waxy flavor, at least it was helped by chunks of strawberries….this one has no redeeming qualities. Also touts 18g of sugar, which can be reduced to 14g by choosing plain flavor.
While I’m not overwhelmingly impressed with any of these brands, I will probably only buy Amande again in the future. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling from Amande, and I get the idea that they have set out to create a quality non-dairy product with the conscious consumer in mind. I like the flavor and consistency of So Delicious, but I won’t continue to eat it with carrageenan included. Finally, I don’t like the flavor of Almond Dream, and I’m the most weary of them…it feels like big food to me (owned by Hain), and while they may be perfectly well meaning, I notice that they have the most ingredients (many I don’t recognize) of the brands I tried, and very high sugar (14g even in the plain flavor).
If you’re sticking with dairy yogurt, there are better choices you can make these days, and since my above review is just a speckle on the map of pre-packaged yogurts, I would recommend visiting Green Plate Rules for some advice on shopping for “clean” yogurts – both dairy and non-dairy. It’s not just a list of brands, but logic behind why some are better than others, and a breakdown of good/bad ingredients to look out for in general.
You may notice I didn’t taste any soy based yogurts, though they are on the market. The reason is that I don’t totally trust soy…I know not all soy is created equal, but I choose to avoid it. Live Green and Eat Clean has a great research based post about soy that I like to refer people to.