A New Non-Dairy Trend: Oat Milk

I recently went up to a barista at a Le Pain Quotidian in L.A. and asked for an oat milk matcha latte. He looked at me partly bemused, partly offended. He had no idea what I was asking. I explained to him that I've started taking my matcha latte with oat milk, which is in fact a real thing. For once, it seems that London has surpassed L.A. with its array of yuppie dairy substitutes. 

Plant-based beverages frame a multi-billion-dollar industry, which, according to Innova Market Insights, is set to reach $16 billion this year. Among the range of non-dairy alternatives, oat milk is gaining swift credence thanks to its subtle, velvety taste. Plus, it’s more sustainable than its almond milk counterpart – something eco-warriors in California know all about. To grow, almonds require a lot more water than oats do, so a transition from almond milk to oat milk would, effectively, make you part of the solution, not the problem.

Oat milk’s appeal isn’t limited to environmental rationale, however. Those with a prescribed mentality of what popular culture calls “healthy eating” will be pleased to know that oat milk is lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free and GMO-free. It’s high in fibre and low in sugar. But of course, every nutritionist, dietician and diet expert will remind you that nothing is what it seems, i.e. respect your body and read the labels.

I’ve come across several guidelines online on how to make your own oat milk, but after gloriously failing to prepare it in my kitchen, I stumbled upon Oatly, another ingenious commodity produced by Sweden. Despite being around for twenty-five years, Oatly has only recently made its way to America, where it’s now a go-to for several baristas.

Given the modest nature of oats, it’s somewhat comical that oat milk costs more than almond or soy milk. Coffee shops habitually charge more for it, reaffirming its spanking status. Yet, regardless of the extra cost, oat milk is indeed a step forward for sustainable foods, and the world desperately needs it.