What Is Oat Milk? A Creamy Explainer

Oat milk. We’ve all seen it at one point or another—in the grocery aisles, at our lactose-intolerant friend’s house, at the coffee shop for an additional $7 when added to a $4 coffee. Oat milk is nothing new. And yet even though this cloudy, watery, slightly sweet concoction has been around for a little bit, not many people could tell you what’s in it, how it’s made, or even what color its eyes are. Do you even know its last name?

My point is, we are all fake oat milk friends until we educate ourselves on what exactly it is. So today, let’s do just that.  

What is oat milk?

It’s actually pretty simple. You soak oats in water until they are wet, then you blend them up, then you put them in a cheesecloth (or a “special nut milk bag”) and squeeze out the cloudy oat water juice otherwise known as oat milk. Now, this may be shocking to you. You may find yourself wondering if you have been paying $7 extra at the bougie hipster coffee shop for a cup full of cloudy water and lies. But don’t fret, buddy friendo. Because of the blending process and because oats absorb water more easily than, say, an almond would, “more of the food itself winds up passing through the cheesecloth, giving a creamier texture than nut milk without added ingredients,” according to Shape. So oat milk is actually creamier than a lot of the other alt milks, that’s not just a lie you have been telling yourself to justify the splurge. In addition, oat milk is high in calcium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D, although it is a little lower in protein than real milk and a lot of the nut-based alt milks. This still left me with a couple of questions. The biggest one:

Who invented oat milk? 

What maniac made the world’s loosest, wateriest, muesli and then thought, “Hey, let’s squeeze it and drink the juice! And also let’s call it milk!”? Turns out, it was two Swedish brothers named Rickard and Bjorn Oeste just looking to help out their lactose-intolerant brethren (dawwww). Do those names ring a bell? Probably not, but to give you an idea, these guys started a little brand called Oatly. That’s right, oat milk as a concept has only been around since 1994 and Oatly was the O(at)G. Thanks, Rick and Bjorn!

Why oat milk?

Not only is oat milk an invention to give lactose-intolerant people a safe milk to drink that won’t cause issues ~downstairs~, it also causes fewer issues ~upstairs~, by which I mean the atmosphere. Oatly says that “on average, a liter of Oatly product consumed in place of cow’s milk results in around 80% less greenhouse gas emissions, 79% less land usage, and 60% less energy consumption,” according to CNBC. And that is not insignificant. As someone who switched to non-dairy milks recently, the environmental impact alone seems like a compelling reason to choose oat milk over other options (in addition to the taste and texture). And it would seem that the world agrees since as of right now oat milk is the second most popular dairy alternative aside from almond milk. 

So, I shall continue to add the additional $7 worth of oat milk to my coffee orders, and just hope that I am also buying more years on this planet for me to continue doing just that. Also, fewer tummy troubles. Ultimately? Worth the $7.

About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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