Comparing Cow, Goat & Soy Milk

The best way to approach this subject is with an open mind and also to compare the different products point for point, e.g. the fat percentage and composition between all the milks, and doing the same for every component.

Another important consideration in this case is the fact that we are using milk as removed in the natural soy milk method that has been used for centuries. This was done to give a true indication of the soy, because different manufacturers adapt the soy to their own standards; adding less or more sugar, fat and other additives.

Soy milk has markedly less calories/kJ than the milk from animal origin this is mainly because of the higher moisture content of the soy milk as well as the lower fat and protein content.

When we compare soy milk to other plant protein sources, the protein it supplies is "complete", meaning that it supplies all the essential amino acids that the body needs and can thus support growth. Compare this to beans and bread that have to be eaten together to complete the amino acid profile.

The animal milks all have a close to 1:1 ratio of fat to protein, but the soy has only about 70% as much fat as protein, in itself not that much of a difference if you consider the 12% protein you would get in wheat.

In the following comparisons I have found it much better to do percentage comparisons to show the true picture, because there is quite a difference in nutrient concentrations in the milks.

Cow milk is 62% saturated, with goat milk at 65%, sheep milk at 66% and the soy at 11%.

Mono-unsaturated fat in cow milk is at 29%, in goat milk at 27%, in sheep milk at 25% and the soy at 17%.

Poly-unsaturated fat in cow milk is 3.6%, in goat milk it is 3.66%, in sheep milk 4.43% and in the soy about 44%.

Overall the animal milk performed the same throughout percentage-wise, although the amount of fat differed quite a lot.

The difference in protein is obvious and if we look at carbohydrate we see that the soy almost lack them completely. That is why you will always see glucose or normal sucrose added to commercial soy milks. Another way of making the soy more palatable is by duplicating the macro-nutrient content of cow milk by adding fats in the form of palm kernel oil (full of saturated fats).

I would think that adding some soy to cow milk would be the best way to balance out the fat composition to include all the fatty acids in almost equal amounts.

So although the soy contains no cholesterol it is also lacking in calcium, biotin, Vit. B12, Vit. D, Vit. C and Vit. A.

Soy milk is an excellent source of fiber though. Another plus for soy is the isoflavones that it contains these are chemicals that help to regulate hormonal balance in the body. Studies are tying it to the low incidence of breast and ovarian cancers in Eastern women. So far commercial soy products are trying to imitate cow milk in composition and taste, instead of being promoted to its own unique place in the market.

That pretty much sorts out the comparisons between the soy and the animal milks.

So what is the story with the anecdotal difference between goat and cow milk?

Well if we look at the macronutrients there does not seem to be much difference and even the micronutrients - even though present in differing quantities - are the same in both milks.

What could be important is the fact that the fat globules are much smaller in goat milk and this might make it easier digestible. There are also a few short and medium chain fatty acids in goat milk that definitely digest easier - in fact they are almost digested as carbohydrates, because of their short chain length. The smaller fat globules can easily be seen when goat milk is left to stand, it does not cream nearly as much on top as cow milk. The fat globules stay dispersed, because of their small size.

The story about goat milk not having lactose or milk sugar is - as you can see from the table utter (udder?) nonsense. Some theorize that the difference in protein structure in cow and goat milk also have an influence on allergies, but that is debatable, because both are four-stomached ruminants.

Anyhow, allergies differ from person to person and only experimentation will give the answer. I hope that this article will enable you to make an informed decision.

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About The Author, Leon The Milkman
Leon the Milkman is the owner of and from where he gives a dairy dictionary and cheese tasting terms guide to new members.