All of all the things that I mourned when I discovered that I was lactose intolerant, yogurt was the saddest loss. Before I found out that dairy was my mortal enemy, Greek yogurt was one of my favorite snacks. It was flavorful, creamy, and protein packed, great for recovery after a hard workout or powering through that mid-afternoon work slump. From Chobani to Fage to Yoplait, there was always a wide array of flavors and varieties.
Luckily for vegans and dairy compromised people like me, there has been a boom recently in yogurt alternatives. I have spent a lot of time (and money) testing out different dairy-free substitutes. I am always searching for that elusive Holy Grail of non-milk based yogurt: creamy, filling, and nutritionally balanced. I selected dairy free yogurts that were available from Whole Foods and my local grocery store chain. To keep things even, I bought strawberry, the most common flavor across the board, in each variety when possible. If strawberry was not available, I chose vanilla. A few of these varieties (including Forager, Kite Hill,and So Delicious Coconut) came in unsweetened varieties, but these types only came in large tubs. It seemed more practical to review the individual to-go packages; if we’re running out the door in the morning, we’re reaching for the yogurt that is in its own container. I ranked the offerings based on three criteria: taste, nutrition, and is it yogurt? I share my findings to save other dairy compromised individuals or vegans their time, effort, and in some cases, their taste buds. Go forth and prosper with your plant based alternatives, friends!
Chobani Oat: Strawberry Granola Crunch
Nutrition: Calories: 170, total fat 5g, sat. fat. 1g, total carb 30g, fiber 2g, total sugars 19g (16g added sugars), protein 4g.
This yogurt variety was overwhelmingly sweet. With 32% of daily recommended amount of sugar in one 5 oz container, this variety feels more like a dessert than a snack. I did not even get a hint of strawberry flavor. The texture was also extremely off-putting: it was like cottage-cheese, even after vigorous stirring.
Is it yogurt?: No- it was cloyingly sweet and too lumpy.
So Delicious Coconut Milk: Strawberry
Nutrition: Calories 120, total fat 4g, sat. fat 3.5g, total carb 21g, fiber 2g, total sugars 14g (13g added sugars), protein 1g.
Taste: This variety was also very lumpy, no matter how much I stirred. Even with visible strawberry chunks, this variety tastes of nothing else except sugar.
Is it yogurt?: It’s definitely not strawberry yogurt.
Silk Almond milk: Strawberry
Nutrition: Calories 180, total fat 11g, sat. fat 1g, total carb 18g, fiber 3g, total sugars 13g (12 g added sugars), protein 5g.
Taste: If you like the taste of almonds, you’ll love this yogurt. It has a slightly berry flavor and a very strong almond aftertaste. The texture is wonderfully creamy. And I felt full for a while after eating it.
Is it yogurt: Almond-forward yogurt, but yes!
Silk Soy milk: Vanilla
Nutrition: Calories 140, total fat 3.5g, sat fat 0g, total carb 21g, fiber 2g, total sugars 16g (16g added sugars), protein 6g.
Taste: This variety is quite creamy. It has a slightly off aftertaste. I can’t tell if that is due to the soy or the vanilla flavoring. I do not really get any sense of vanilla; the sugar dominates everything.
Is it yogurt: Maybe? It is one of the few nut-free and dairy-free varieties available. It’s a good yogurt choice for people with dairy and nut allergies.
Forager Cashew milk: Strawberry
Nutrition: Calories 140, total fat 6g, sat. fat. 1g, total carb 20g, fiber 1g, total sugars 12g, (11 g added sugars), protein 3g .
Taste: Forager’s offering was very, very thin. It wouldn’t stay on the spoon; it seemed like you could drink it. It didn’t really taste like anything- it was quite bland.
Is it yogurt?: Maybe it’s drinkable yogurt?
Lava Dairy Free Pili Nut Yogurt: Strawberry
Nutrition: Calories 150, total fat 11 g, sat. fat 7g, total carb 11g, fiber 1g, total sugars 7g(0g added sugars), protein 2g.
Taste: I took one bite of this yogurt and gagged. I stirred it several times and tried again, only to come to the conclusion that this yogurt is inedible. It was incredibly sour- I think sucking on half of a lemon would be a more pleasant taste. Unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt is not this tangy and acidic.
Is it yogurt: No, most people can eat more than a spoonful of yogurt.
Harmless Harvest, Strawberry Coconut Yogurt
Nutrition: Calories 90, total fat 2g, sat. fat 2g, total carb 17g, fiber 3g, total sugars 9g (8 g added sugars), protein 1g.
Taste: This yogurt variety was very enjoyable to eat: I could actually taste the strawberry flavor and the texture was quite smooth and creamy. However, I ate this as a snack, and felt hungry again an hour later.
Is it yogurt?: Yes. It is more like a sweetened Yoplait variety than Greek yogurt, but hey that still counts.
Kite Hill: Almond Milk Yogurt, Strawberry
Nutrition: Calories 170, total fat 9g, sat. fat 0.5, total carb 22g, fiber 2g, total sugars 17g (16g added sugars), protein 4g.
Taste: This variety was very smooth and thick. It was sweet, but also actually tasted like strawberry. The addition of big chunks of strawberry were welcome.
It is yogurt?: Definitely- not a bad substitute at all!
Siggi’s Plant Based Coconut Blend, Mixed Berry
Nutrition: Calories 180, total fat 10g, sat. fat 7g, total carb. 13g, fiber 1g, total sugars 8g (7g added sugars), protein 10g.
Taste: This yogurt alternative is the one I’ve been searching for. It was wonderfully thick and creamy. The berry flavor definitely came through and it was not overly sweet. Bravo!
Is it yogurt: Definitely- people would believe you if you told them that it was flavored Greek yogurt.
Siggi’s is definitely the winner of our contest. It was one of the varieties lowest in sugar, highest in protein, and closest to classic Greek yogurt. I can’t wait to try the other flavors that coconut-based Siggi’s comes in, including vanilla & cinnamon, strawberry, raspberry, and mango. Runner-ups include Kite Hill, Silk almond milk, and Harmless Harvest. All three had great texture and flavor.
The amount of choices available for dairy-free and plant-based yogurts is amazing. It’s wonderful to have this many choices and be able to still enjoy a satisfying cup of “yogurt.” Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just looking to live a more plant-based life style, it’s definitely worth your time to take a trip to your local Whole Foods or natural food store and explore the bounty of dairy-free yogurts!