The Difference Between Cow, Goat, And Soy Milk

By Debra Kelly on Thursday, December 5, 2013
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“Lasts longer than any other type of milk, dog’s milk [. . .] Plus, of course, the advantage of dog’s milk is that when it goes off, it tastes exactly the same as when it’s fresh.” —Holly, Red Dwarf (1988)

In A Nutshell

Besides the obvious difference of where the milk comes from and the ethical debates about consuming animal products as opposed to plant products, these three types of milk have very different nutritional values. While cow milk is high in calcium, it also contains a high percentage of lactose, and goat milk is better for people who are concerned about their cholesterol. Soy milk is the choice for people who want something that came from a plant rather than an animal, and while it’s high in calcium, it can also prevent absorption of proteins into the body.

The Whole Bushel

One of the biggest differences between these types of milk is their lactose content, meaning the amount of milk sugars present in the substance. Cow milk contains the highest amount of lactose, which can make it undrinkable for anyone who’s lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant isn’t just inconvenient, it can be painful, too – but because goat milk is much lower in lactose content, people who have sensitivity to lactose can often still drink it. And that extends to products made with goat milk, too, such as cheese and yogurt. Soy milk is (for most people) a similarly lactose-free substitute.

Even for those who aren’t sensitive to lactose, goat milk is much easier to digest than cow milk. Even though it has a higher fat content than cow milk, the fat molecules in goat milk are much smaller. This doesn’t just make them easier to digest, but it also keeps the milk from separating in the refrigerator the way cow milk will. Goat milk also contains a form of vitamin A that can be used immediately, without undergoing a chemical transformation to make it usable by the human body.

Similarly, goat milk also has a lower cholesterol content than cow milk, and what cholesterol it does contain is similarly more readily available for absorption into the body. Those concerned about their cholesterol levels often look to soy milk instead, though, as it contains compounds called “isoflavones” and virtually no cholesterol. Isoflavones help to lower levels of bad cholesterol already in the body.

Cow milk is not only extremely high in protein, but it’s also what’s called “complete protein.” That means it contains everything that the body needs to absorb amino acids and turn them into a viable form of protein. It’s also the highest in calcium (with goat milk very close behind), and contains the highest amount of vitamin B.

Whole cow milk is very high in fat content, but with 1 percent, 2 percent, and skim options available, there’s no need to skip the cow milk just to avoid the fat content. The rest of the nutritional profile on low-fat cow milk remains largely unchanged.

There’s also a taste difference. Some people don’t like goat milk because of its distinctive taste—a mixture of sweet and salty—along with its equally distinctive odor. Soy milk comes in a variety of flavors, which can make it much more appealing to a wider group of people. Once fat starts getting removed from cow milk, there’s a definite change in taste and texture.

There are also a few other options for those looking for a non-animal milk alternative. Almond milk is quickly growing in popularity, containing many of the same vitamins as animal milks but lacking in protein. Rice milk lacks many key nutrients, proteins, and vitamins; and while low in cholesterol, coconut milk is higher in saturated fats and calories than the heaviest animal milk.

Of course, all types of milk exist in fortified and unfortified forms. Fortified forms often add more of the good stuff, whether it’s calcium, protein, or different types of vitamins.

So what’s the best choice? That’s all dependent on individual health goals and conditions.

Show Me The Proof

LiveScience: Is Milk Really Healthy for You?
Nutritive value of goat milk
Nutritional differences between soy- and cow’s milk
The skinny on milk nutrition: Cow, goat, rice or soy?
Benefits of Goat Milk vs. Cow Milk

  • Rijul Ballal

    Most of the posts here are about the differences between stuff these day.

    • Hadeskabir

      In this website the lists go into 3 different categories:
      -Differences
      -Facts
      -Misconceptions

      With so few categories of course some days the articles are bound to repeat one of those categories.

  • The Ou7law

    Why would someone want to taste dogs milk, I am completely fine with milk that comes from a cow or boob

  • The Ou7law

    Does anyone know what kind of bee produces milk?………………………………………………A Boobee hahahahahahahaha.

    • Hadeskabir

      Badum tss!

      • lee

        badum sting

  • Hadeskabir

    I love milk, since I was a child I drink half a liter of milk per day. One day I had no milk to drink before going to bed, the stores were all closed because it was 8pm. My mother went to our neighbor who is a farmer and just finished milking the cows. He gave some fresh milked milk to my mother. At night when I drank it, it was so gross that I couldn’t even drink a whole cup of it. Trust me, fresher doesn’t always mean better.

    • Eyan Khan

      Which country are you from?

      • Hadeskabir

        I’m from Portugal.

    • Marozia

      Raw milk is much better for you. Apparently in some countries, it’s illegal.

      • Hadeskabir

        Because it can be dangerous if it has some sort of bacteria. I think it’s disgusting because I’m so used to drink packed milk and the flavor is so different.

      • lee

        Most places its illegal, there was a film on netflix about it, police raids on farms all over raw milk.

      • Karmala

        There isn’t actually any proof to suggest that raw milk is any better for you. However, a lot of people do become sick from raw milk (tuberculosis, salmonella and listeriosis among other things). Evidently some people prefer the taste of raw milk. That is a risk that is theirs to take. I wouldn’t however take the risk personally based upon an unproven supposed health benefit.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/VictimOfBoredom Matt

      Better doesn’t always mean tastier.

  • Spartacross

    Cow and Goat milk are milk.
    Soy “milk” is a white liquid that vegans and lactose-intolerant are calling “milk” for their own reasons.

    Why is there a need say this with more than 25 words is beyond me.

  • lee

    soy milk is for faggots.

    • Blue

      Nope peas are for faggots, perhaps some potato as well……….

    • Robert Downey

      And here i was thinking it was for Vegans and the lactose intolerant. Some time it take an intolerant homophob to set these things straight for me. Thank you.

      • Nickolas Kruger

        *homophobe

  • Kavish Malhotra

    i was kind of suprised when there wasn’t any buffalo milk in there

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