Pea milk

Last updated
Pea milk
Pea protein milk with yellow split peas.jpg
Food energy
(per serving)
70  kcal  (293 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per serving)
Protein 8  g
Fat 4.5  g
Carbohydrate 0  g

Pea milk (also known as pea protein beverage) is a type of plant milk made using pea protein, which is made of yellow peas [1] water, sunflower oil, gums as thickeners, Tricalcium Phosphate, vitamins, and Dipotassium Phosphate. Commercial pea milk typically comes in sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate flavours, and is usually enriched with vitamins. [2] It is marketed as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to almond milk and a non-GMO alternative to soy milk. [3] The two largest brands of pea milk are Ripple Foods and Bolthouse Farms. Pea milk is a plant-based alternative to dairy milk. [4] It is available in several countries including the US, UK and Australia and is vegan, nut free and lactose free. [1] Pea milk is a part of plant milks, [4] which are gaining in popularity due to increased lactose intolerance among consumers and demand for environmentally sustainable products. [5] The plant-based milk industry as per 2019 estimates is worth approximately US$5 billion [5] and will reach a value of US$26 billion in 5 years. [5] There has been research in the role of pea proteins in preparing infant formula, [6] yoghurt [7] and calf mixtures. [8] The colour is off-white and pea milk is made through crushing yellow split peas and mixing the soluble components with water. [9] Pea milk may also be prepared at home. [10] It is perceived to be environmentally sustainable and requires less water than the production of dairy milk. [4] There is limited information on the total carbon emissions and water consumption of producing ready to drink pea milk. [11]



Plant-based milks in a supermarket shelf Milchersatzprodukte.png
Plant-based milks in a supermarket shelf

Before commercial production of 'milks' from legumes, beans and nuts, plant-based mixtures that are supposed to resemble milk have existed for thousands of years. [5] These 'milks' aim to contain the same proteins, vitamins and lipids as those produced by lactating mammals. [5]

Plant-based milks have emerged as an alternative to dairy to consumers in response to dietary needs and also due to the recent popularity of environmentally friendly products, [5] especially over the last decade. [12] The plant-based milk industry in the USA is worth $1.8 billion per annum. [5] In 2018 the value of 'dairy alternatives' was said to be $8 billion. [13] It was also published in Huffington Post that due to health and environmental reasons as well as changing consumer trends, more individuals are purchasing a non-dairy alternative to milk. [14] In Australia, there is decreased confidence within the dairy industry, with only 53% being optimistic in the future profitability and demand for dairy products as per a Dairy Australia report. [15]

Only 73% percent of young people in the UK aged between 16 and 24 drink dairy cow's milk, compared to 94% in 1974. [12] A key dietary reason for the increase in popularity of plant-based milks such as pea milks is lactose intolerance, for example, the most common food causing intolerance in Australia is lactose and affects 4.5% of the population. [9] In the United States, around 40 million people are lactose intolerant. [16] Another dietary trend that has emerged is an intake of increased protein, and pea protein powders have also been released to meet this demand. [10] Pea milk is also a suitable product for soy allergies. [17]

A scientific journal article argued that plant-milk companies send the message that plant milks are 'good and wholesome' and dairy milk is 'bad for the environment', and the article also reported that an increasing number of young people associate dairy with environmental damage. [12] There has been an increased concern that dairy production has adverse effects on biodiversity, water and land use. [12] These negative links between dairy and the environment have also been communicated through audiovisual material against dairy production, such as 'Cowspiracy' and 'What the Health'. [12] Animal welfare concerns have also contributed to the declining popularity of dairy milk in countries such as US and UK. [12]

Pea milk was introduced in the UK retail market by the brand Mighty Society, [4] and in Australia by the Freedom Foods Group. [15] It was introduced in the US Whole Foods Markets in 2015 by Ripple. [1] By 2018 pea milk was available in more than 10,000 stores in the US such as Kroger and Target. [13] Other brands of available pea milk in North America include Silk, [13] Veggemo, [17] Sproud [18] [19] and Suja. [17]


Plant-based milks Umweltversprechen von Pflanzenmilch.jpg
Plant-based milks

Plant milk is made through crushing the plant substance and extracting its liquid. [5] Like Milk, which is a pea milk product available in Australia, is made through a process of soaking yellow split peas and blending with water. [9] Pea milks are fortified, which is the addition of vitamin D2 and B12 to the milk. [4]

Non-commercial pea milk may be prepared by individuals using peas, water, vanilla extract and dates. [10]

As per research, plant-based milk alternatives' taste can be improved by fermentation [5] and can increase the levels of Vitamin Bs and protein. [5] This research has also predicted that fermentation will emerge as an important trend as the plant-based milk market grows. [5]

Taste and composition

Using RDI (Reference Daily Intake) as a measurement, commercially available pea milk in the US contains 13% of potassium, 10% of Vitamin A, 30% of Vitamin D, 15% of Iron, along with 4.5 grams of fat and 290 kilojoules (70 kilocalories) per 240 millilitres (8 US fl oz) (unsweetened, original flavour). [10]

Pea milk also contains vitamin B3, B6, B12, calcium and Cys Met, a form of protein. [5] Peas also contain high levels of starch, fibre and protein, and are inexpensive to fractionate. [7] Some types of pea milk contain algal oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, [13] and a pea-milk company in the US has stated that pressure, salt and temperature are used in their laboratories to ensure that the plant proteins are present in the product without the plant-like pea taste. [13]

The Australian version of pea milk has zero sugar per cup in the original version, the same level of protein and calcium, but less sugar than dairy milk. [9] The 'original' flavoured version of American pea milk has half the sugar of 2% dairy milk. [20]

Vitamin D2 Vitamin D2, Ergocalciferol cleanup.png
Vitamin D2

According to Dr Sonja Kukuljan, nine essential amino acids are present in pea milk. [9] Another dietitian, Alexia Beauregard, has stated that plant proteins in general have fewer amino acids than meat and eggs. [13] An independent Australian dietitian has stated that soy milk fortified with calcium would be a more nutritionally balanced alternative to pea milk. [15]

The Australian version of pea milk is described to have an off-white colour and is high in omega-6 fats. [9] Business Insider Australia also described an American brand of pea milk to have a savoury aftertaste, vegetable-like quality, and a thick consistency. [20] The UK version of pea milk is also not green in colour and has a creamy quality. [4] It has also been observed in the American versions that pea milk is "creamy" and the original unsweetened pea milk has a "pea-like" flavour. [16] Furthermore, it has been described that in the unsweetened pea milk flavours, the savoury legume flavour is more apparent than the sweetened flavours such as vanilla and chocolate. [16] The thick creamy consistency and levels of omega-6 fatty acids can be attributed to the presence of sunflower oil in pea milk. [10]

The chocolate-flavoured pea milk has 12 g of protein, [16] 8 g more protein than coconut milk, and a lower amount of saturated fat compared to coconut milk. [16] Reviewers have also stated that it is thicker compared to other watery plant-based milks such as soy milk and almond milk, [16] and the chocolate-flavoured pea milk was described as 'melted down ice-cream' in taste. [16]

Scientific studies have stated that the key features of plant-based milk should be its taste and nutritional value, [5] and fortification may result in the avoidance of adding artificial products to improve their taste and sensory profile. [5]

Other potential uses

Milk with pea proteins can be included in infant formula to improve its microbiological quality, which is to improve its probiotics and similarity to human breast milk. [6]

There have been experiments using pea protein mixtures as a protein milk replacer for calves. [8] Experiments have been conducted with Holstein calves to replace the protein from skim milk powder in their diets with pea protein concentrate – however the results indicated that newborn calves digested skim milk powder better than pea proteins. [8] This experiment was done using three diets for newborn calves, the first mixture consisted of skim milk powder as the main form of protein, second mixture containing 8.25% pea protein and the last containing 16.25% pea protein. [8] This research found that the calves were less able to digest fat when they were being fed the milk mixture with the largest amount of pea protein. [8] Another scientific source also identified that neo-natal calves have difficulty digesting non-milk-based proteins. [21]

Yellow pea crops in USA Crops NR 06 (38839654251).jpg
Yellow pea crops in USA

There has been research in preparing yoghurt with milk enriched in pea proteins, and it was found that yoghurt prepared with 4% pea isolate with milk was conducive for probiotic strains to grow. [7] The research also revealed that strains of Lactobacillus, which is a type of probiotic, can grow in mixtures with milk and pea isolate. This mixture is not vegan as this research mixed cow milk with pea proteins to test probiotic strains growth. [7] According to researchers this strain has the nutritional advantages of both pea protein and probiotics. [7] The researchers' publication states that with a different strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus helveticus I, the additions of pea proteins resulted in a pea – like flavour. [7]

As per an independent writer, using the unsweetened vanilla pea milk in a fruit smoothie was similar to a milkshake taste and consistency [16] and that it provided a vanilla like flavour and creamy consistency in addition to coffee. [16] This writer has also stated that the unsweetened original flavours would be suitable for addition to savoury recipes, as they resulted in an unpleasant savoury taste in addition to coffee. [16] Another independent Australian writer has stated that the addition of pea milk is not feasible in hot drinks such as coffee as it results in separation, [22] and that pea milk can be used for a pancake batter due to its thick consistency [22] and can be used in smoothies. [22]

Environmental impact

Calves Calves in pasture - - 567257.jpg

This alternative to milk has been gaining attention due to perceived benefits that it is ecologically sustainable. [1] It requires 100 times less water to produce than almond milk, and 25 times less water than dairy milk. [4] Another source has stated that pea crops require six times less water than almond crops. [13] The growing of pea crops also results in nitrogen levels in the soil and does not require extensive irrigation. [13] Overall, the production of peas does not require the same level of water, nitrogen fertilisers and emissions of greenhouse gases as producing dairy milk. [14] The same article says that a director at the Natural Resources Defence Council has identified that any plant milk alternative is more environmentally sustainable than dairy milk. [14] Compared to other dairy free alternatives, it is said that soy bean production results in more deforestation, [14] coconuts grown in Asian regions require longer transportation hours to reach the supermarket shelves where they are sold, [14] and almond trees create an environmental burden in the water scarce regions, such as California, that they are grown in. [14] A biomedical engineer has stated that the dairy industry contributes to 25% of the total emissions of the food industry as a whole. [13] Producing 1 kg of milk requires 1.1–2 square kilometres of land. [23] It was also observed in another scientific journal that milk and eggs require less land than production of meats such as beef and pork. [23] This article also found that beef production, compared to other meats typically consumed in OECD countries, used the largest amount of land, and the usage of these resources can also be attributed to dairy farms and milk production from the mother of the calves. [23]


Yellow split pea that is used in the production of pea milk Split pea.jpg
Yellow split pea that is used in the production of pea milk

There will be more nutritionally balanced plant milk available in the future as per academic research, [5] because plant-based milks offer only limited nutritional benefits to humans and have a different taste compared to cow milk. [5] This research has also stated that fermentation is a significant opportunity for growing the plant-based milk market, as it can enhance the nutrition in the product. [5] Sweetened and flavoured milks have a different nutritional profile with higher added sugars, as per Nussinow, a dietitian. [14] It has also been stated in another news website that chocolate-flavoured pea milk contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. [10]

Dr Hazel Wallace recommends cow milk for iodine, protein and calcium compared to plant-based milks. [4] Plant-based milks are marketed to have nutritional and health benefits, however this is done because of the less naturally beneficial nutritional profile compared to cow's milk. [12] For example, pea milk is marketed to be high in protein, and has the same amount of protein per cup, 8g, as dairy milk and soy milk. [4] Other types of plant milk often have an even lower level of protein compared to animal milks. [5] About half of plant-based milks have little or no protein. [5] For example, almond milk has 1g of protein per cup. [13]

Commercially available pea milk contains omega-6 fatty acids, but people are already consuming this in their diets, with excessive omega-6 fatty acid consumption increasing the risk of developing a chronic disease. [10] Examples include diabetes, heart disease and obesity. [10]

Pea milk is high in vitamin D2, which is derived from plants, and dairy milk contains vitamin D3, which is typically derived from animals. [10] Consuming vitamin D3 leads to increased levels of vitamin D in the blood compared to vitamin D2. [10]

In 2016 it was reported that Ripple foods shipped their yellow peas from France, attracting criticism that it has greenwashed customers, [11] however Ripple Foods responded stating that they were transported using cargo ships, rail and trucks. [11] Greenwashing is described by Business News Daily as a company exercising more efforts on environmentally friendly marketing rather than minimising its ecological impact. [24] It has also been said in other mainstream news articles that there is no independent assessment available of the full environmental impact of pea milk. [14]

Related Research Articles

Yogurt Food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk

Yogurt also spelled yoghurt, yogourt or yoghourt, is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as yogurt cultures. Fermentation of sugars in the milk by these bacteria produces lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give yogurt its texture and characteristic tart flavor. Cow's milk is the milk most commonly used to make yogurt. Milk from water buffalo, goats, ewes, mares, camels, yaks and plant milks are also used to produce yogurt. The milk used may be homogenized or not. It may be pasteurized or raw. Each type of milk produces substantially different results.

Whey Liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained

Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is a byproduct of the manufacture of cheese or casein and has several commercial uses. Sweet whey is a byproduct resulting from the manufacture of rennet types of hard cheese, like cheddar or Swiss cheese. Acid whey is a byproduct brought out during the making of acid types of dairy products, such as cottage cheese or strained yogurt.

Soy milk Beverage made from soybeans

Soy milk also known as soya milk or soymilk, is a plant-based drink produced by soaking and grinding soybeans, boiling the mixture, and filtering out remaining particulates. It is a stable emulsion of oil, water, and protein. Its original form is an intermediate product of the manufacture of tofu. Originating in China, it became a common beverage in Europe and North America in the latter half of the 20th century, especially as production techniques were developed to give it a taste and consistency more closely resembling that of dairy milk. Soy milk may be used as a substitute for dairy milk by individuals who are vegan or lactose intolerant.

Rice milk

Rice milk is a plant milk made from rice. Commercial rice milk is typically manufactured using brown rice and brown rice syrup, and may be sweetened using sugar or sugar substitutes, and flavored by common ingredients, such as vanilla. It is commonly fortified with protein and micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, iron, or vitamin D.

Almond milk Plant milk manufactured from almonds

Almond milk is a plant milk manufactured from almonds with a creamy texture and nutty flavor, although some types or brands are flavored in imitation of dairy milk. It does not contain cholesterol, saturated fat or lactose, and is often consumed by those who are lactose-intolerant and others, such as vegans, who avoid dairy products. Commercial almond milk comes in sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate flavors, and is usually fortified with micronutrients. It can also be made at home using a blender, almonds and water.

Kulfi Indian frozen dessert

Kulfi or Qulfi is a frozen dairy dessert originating in the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century. It is often described as "traditional Indian ice cream". It is very much popular throughout present-day India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma (Myanmar), and the Middle East, and widely available in restaurants serving cuisines from the Indian subcontinent around the world.

Whey protein Protein supplement

Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. The proteins consist of α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, serum albumin and immunoglobulins. Whey protein is commonly marketed as a dietary supplement, and various health claims have been attributed to it. A review published in 2010 in the European Food Safety Authority Journal concluded that the provided literature did not adequately support the proposed claims. For muscle growth, whey protein has been shown to be slightly better compared to other types of protein, such as casein or soy.

Plant milk Milk-like drink made from plant-based ingredients

Plant milk is a plant juice that resembles the color of milk and refers to manufactured, nondairy beverages made from a water-based plant extract for flavoring and aroma. Plant milks are vegan beverages consumed as plant-based alternatives to dairy milk, and often provide a creamy mouthfeel. For commerce, plant-based liquids are typically packaged in containers similar and competitive to those used for dairy milk, but cannot be labeled as "milk" within the European Union. In 2018, among the roughly 20 plants used to manufacture plant milk, almond, soy, and coconut were the highest-selling plant milks worldwide. The global plant milk market was estimated at US$16 billion in 2018.

Milk substitute

A milk substitute is any substance that resembles milk and can be used in the same ways as milk. Such substances may be variously known as non-dairy beverage, nut milk, grain milk, legume milk and alternative milk.

Peanut milk

Peanut milk is a non-dairy beverage created using peanuts and water. Recipe variations include salt, sweeteners, and grains. It does not contain any lactose and is therefore suitable for people with lactose intolerance.

Silk (brand)

Silk is an American brand of dairy-substitute products owned by Danone North America.

Oat milk Type of plant milk

Oat milk is a plant milk derived from whole oat grains by extracting the plant material with water. Oat milk has a creamy texture and oatmeal-like flavor, and is manufactured in various flavors, such as sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla or chocolate.

So Good (soy beverage)

So Good is a brand of non-dairy beverages, foods, and desserts that are lactose, cholesterol and gluten-free. So Good is manufactured by Sanitarium in Australia and New Zealand. In Canada it was prepared by Earth's Own. So Good is sold in India by Life Health Foods.

Soy yogurt yogurt prepared with soy milk

Soy yogurt, also referred to as Soya yogurt, Soygurt or Yofu, is yogurt prepared with soy milk.


MimicCreme was a brand of vegan imitation cream based on nuts and made without lactose, soy, or gluten. It was certified as pareve kosher. First produced commercially in January 2007 in Albany, New York, by Green Rabbit LLC, MimicCreme was primarily marketed toward vegans as an alternative to dairy products. The company website indicates that the company closed in November 2013 due to no longer having access to an appropriate production facility.

Kefir Fermented milk drink made from kefir grains

Kefir, is a fermented milk drink similar to a thin yogurt or ayran that is made from kefir grains, a specific type of mesophilic symbiotic culture. The drink originated in the North Caucasus, in particular the Elbrus environs along the upper mountainous regions of Circassia, Karachay and Balkaria from where it came to Russia, and from there it spread to Europe and the United States, where it is prepared by inoculating the milk of cows, goats, or sheep with kefir grains.

Pea protein

Pea protein is a type of food. It is a source of protein derived and extracted in powder form from the yellow and green split peas, Pisum sativum, classified in the legume food group. It can be used as a supplement to increase an individual's protein or other nutrient intake, or as a substitute for other food products. It is also used as a functional ingredient in food-manufacturing, such as a thickener, foaming agent, or an emulsifier.

Plamil Foods

Plamil Foods Ltd is a British manufacturer of vegan food products. Founded in 1965, the company sells soy milk, horchata, egg-free mayonnaise, chocolate and carob bars.

Vegan cheese Cheese-like substance made without animal products

Vegan cheese is a category of non-dairy, plant-based cheese analogues. Vegan cheeses range from soft fresh cheeses to aged and cultured hard grateable cheeses like plant-based Parmesan. The defining characteristic of vegan cheese is the exclusion of all animal products.

Like the human practice of veganism, vegan dog foods are those formulated with the exclusion of ingredients that contain or were processed with any part of an animal, or any animal byproduct. Vegan dog food may incorporate the use of fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, nuts, vegetable oils, and soya, as well as any other non-animal based foods. The omnivorous domestic canine has evolved to metabolize carbohydrates and thrive on a diet lower in protein, and therefore, a vegan diet is nutritionally adequate for dogs if properly formulated and balanced. Dogs can also thrive on a vegetarian diet.


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