Milk and Plant-Based Beverages

Milk and Plant-Based Beverages in Canada

Contents provided by: Alberta Health Services Dietetic Interns and Registered Dietitians

Have you ever been confused by all the different types of milk and plant-based beverages in the grocery store? Milk and plant-based beverages can be a great source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Read more to learn about the many options available and how to choose the best one for you and your family.


The most common type of milk you will see in Canada is fresh cow’s milk which can be found in the refrigerated section of all grocery stores. You can buy fresh milk with different levels of fat, labeled as %M.F. which means percent milk fat.  Skim, 1% and 2% M.F. milk are all good choices. Milk is a good source of protein, calcium and vitamin D.

Did you know?

Dairy products in Canada are highly regulated and must meet strict standards. Canadian milk is not allowed to contain added hormones, antibiotics, or medications. This is the same for all milk, even if it is not labeled as organic. Milk is also required to be pasteurized to be sold in Canada. This means it is heated to kill harmful bacteria but the nutrients stay the same.

Plant-Based Beverages

Plant-based beverages are an option for people who avoid milk for religious, cultural, or health reasons, like allergies or lactose intolerance. Fortified soy beverages have nearly the same amount of protein as cow’s milk. Other plant-based beverages may not have as much protein.

Other plant-based beverages are made from legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains like:

  • Almond
  • Cashew
  • Pea
  • Coconut
  • Oat
  • Rice
  • And more!

When choosing plant-based beverages, choose one that is:

  • Unsweetened
  • Has at least 6g of protein per cup
  • Has at least 23% daily value of calcium per cup
  • Has at least 10% daily value of vitamin D per cup

You will be able to find this information on the nutrition facts label!

Sweetened plant-based beverages and sweetened flavoured milk (e.g. chocolate milk) are considered sugary drinks. Try to choose milks and other beverages that are unsweetened or without added sugar.

With so many options to try, there’s a tasty and nutritious drink out there for everyone!

Other resources:

For More Information About Choosing a Drink

For More Information About Label Reading