I Drank Pea Milk Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened
Here's the verdict on whether pea milk tastes like peas! For anyone who's curious to explore beyond nut milk, a board-certified holistic nutritionist shares her experiment with this creamy, protein-packed, dairy alternative.
First came the almond milk craze, then oat milk—is pea milk next? In the past year, research has started to show that pea milk boasts very similar protein levels to cow’s milk. That could be one reason there’s heightened search about this healthy sip among consumers lately.
Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, CDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says: “The growing interest in new milk alternatives is driven by rising food intolerances, environmental concerns, increased accessibility of vegetarian and vegan foods, and the desire to be more nutritious and health-conscious.”
Registered dietitian Amy Kimberlain, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian also with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains the sudden growing interest in pea milk, specifically: “Pea milk is a great alternative for those with possible allergies or intolerances to cow’s milk and/or other alternative milks.” She adds: “For a long time, soy milk was the only option for those needing an alternative milk. Now that pea milk has been formulated, there’s another option.”
I personally have never been a fan of cow’s milk. It doesn’t agree with my stomach. Given my nutrition training, I’ve tried almost every single plant-based alternative over the years, so I was very curious to try pea milk to see how my body responded—and, whether or not I liked the taste.
What does pea milk taste like?
I was a little skeptical of pea milk at first, but I enjoyed both the taste and texture. The unsweetened version of pea milk actually tasted sweet in a way that reminded me of almond milk, but more like coconut or cashew milk in texture as it’s creamier and thicker than I expected. Many of the dairy-free milk alternatives I’ve tried over the years seem watered down, especially oat or almond milk, unless you make them from scratch…so I really appreciated both the taste and the texture of pea milk.
Pea milk definitely doesn’t taste like peas! Kimberlain explained that pea milk is made from yellow field peas, “and these peas are milled into flour. Pea milk uses the purified protein (which is separated from the fiber and starch in the flour) along with water and other ingredients. What you’ll get is a milk alternative that does in fact have a similar taste and consistency to that of cow’s milk.”
What are the health benefits of pea milk?
I’m always trying to include more protein into my diet, so I was excited to learn that pea milk is a great source of this essential macronutrient. “The amount of protein is similar to that of cow’s milk, and its amino acid profile makes it a good protein source,” Gentile says. “It has enough essential amino acids to meet the [World Health Organization’s] recommended requirements.” She adds that one essential amino acid in pea milk is leucine, “which has been shown to maintain muscle mass during aging.”
Kimberlain explains why pea milk’s protein content makes it even better than most other plant-based milks! “Unsweetened pea milk provides eight grams of protein per serving, which is equivalent to the amount in one cup of cow’s milk. In comparison, almond, oat, and cashew milk only provide about one gram of protein. Coconut milk has almost none. The only other alternative milk that does provide a good amount of protein is soy milk, where one cup of soy milk provides seven grams of protein.”
What are the cons of pea milk?
Reading labels is important before purchasing anything new, especially with plant-based milk since added sugars, natural flavors or processed oils are common. “Flavored varieties could have a high sugar content,” Gentile says. Also, she adds, look out for varieties labeled Unsweetened. “Pea milk may also contain less-than-healthy additives, like sunflower or safflower oil, or other thickeners.” I usually avoid processed oils, so I’m really hoping that brands will find a better way to thicken it in the future.
I was also surprised that I couldn’t find pea milk at my local Whole Foods, especially living in Los Angeles, but Target had it. I’m sure with people learning more about the protein packed benefits of pea milk it might be easier to find at your local grocery store soon.
Kimberlain also shared some other pointers to consider before drinking pea milk. “In certain instances, pea milk might not be for someone who has allergies to legumes.” Someone prone to constipation might want to proceed with caution, too: Some pea milk brands have “quite a bit of” calcium fortification, she says, and having too much calcium in the diet can cause bloating, along with the possibility of kidney stones.
What I noticed a week after drinking pea milk
As a person who has experienced digestive issues after consuming too much dairy, I noticed during my week of drinking pea milk that I never experienced any of these issues.
Also, the first thing I noticed when I started drinking pea milk was that I found myself feeling more satiated. Most likely this was due to the generous protein content.
I also observed that the natural sweetness of pea milk satisfied my after-dinner sweets cravings.
The added benefit of protein left me feeling more satisfied in general, but especially with my overnight oats. I made them with pea milk instead of my usual coconut milk. Pea milk could be a permanent stand-in now.
I usually don’t drink milk every single day, but I always add milk into smoothies, overnight oats and chia seed pudding. I will continue to add pea milk into my regular plant-based milk rotation…preferably, without the oils.