We aren’t always used to seeing coconuts in the grocery store, they aren’t a common cooking ingredient for many of those adopting a Western diet. However, they are packed with nutrients and can be used to make some tasty dishes.
Coconut milk is a popular drink and ingredient to be used in cooking. Many people add coconut milk or cream to their curries and stews for a thick, creamy texture.
This may cause you to ask yourself, does coconut milk actually contain animal-derived ingredients? In this article, learn more about how coconut milk is made and if it can be consumed on a vegan diet.
What Is Coconut Milk Made Of?
Coconut milk is simply the fleshy white insides of a coconut. This flesh is shredded and pureed with water before being strained to create a thick, rich liquid that can be used to cook with. However, there are other types of coconut milk.
Coconut Milk Variations
The coconut milk that you can purchase in a can, as mentioned above, is actually referred to as coconut meat. Although it contains no meat, so never fear.
Since the increase in demand for non-dairy milk substitutes has been seen in coffee shops, cafes, and grocery stores. As a result, the second type of coconut milk was formed which is sold in cartons and often used in cereal and mixed in with cups of coffee.
Is Coconut Milk Vegan?
Coconut milk in both forms is completely vegan. It is plant-derived and does not use any additives or external processes involving animal products to produce the milk.
The milk is made by simmering the white fleshy part of the coconut to make a creamy paste. The liquid is strained out of the mixture and the coconut flesh remaining is removed. When made on a large commercial scale, the end product tends to be a lot thinner.
Responsibly Sourced Coconuts
As many vegans are concerned with the welfare and treatment of animals, it’s important to highlight some of the findings made by the animal rights group PETA. An investigation into the Thai coconut industry found that monkeys were exploited to pick coconuts.
These coconuts were used by prominent Thai brands to end up on the shelves of consumers. Coconut farms in Brazil, Colombia, Hawaii, India, and the Philippines are not known for their use of monkey labor and can be considered ethical sources. The main Thai brands associated with this exploitation are Aroy-D and Chaokoh.
Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe
Making your own coconut milk ensures there are no sweeteners or preservatives added to the product. It is more cost-effective and easy to do than you think, plus it also saves a bunch of waste on the packaging.
All you will need is some unsweetened shredded coconut and water. It only takes around 10 minutes to make your own coconut milk, which is less time than you need to spend in the store and certainly less money!
For those that like their milk a little sweeter, or if you’re making a treat for kids you can add some vanilla extract, vegan cocoa powder, or fresh pureed strawberries to the milk for a light and refreshing drink. Experiment with any ingredients you like here.
Uses For Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is super versatile and can be used for more than just drinking and putting in curries. Many use the liquid as a substitute for dairy when making things such as whipped cream, ice cream, and popsicles.
Make sure you use the coconut milk in the right form to get the textures you desire. The canned form is ideal for making rich and creamy bakes and desserts, while the carton form can be used as a binding material and is perfect in milkshakes or coffees. Here are some delicious and refreshing recipes for you to try:
- Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream
- Vegan Chocolate Mousse
- Coconut Milk Whipped Cream
- Coconut Milk Latte
- Coconut Milkshake
Coconut Milk Alternatives
If you’ve tried coconut milk or you don’t like the sound of it, then there are plenty of alternatives. These include:
- Soy milk
- Oat milk
- Almond milk
- Rice milk
- Cashew milk
- Pea protein milk
Coconut milk is completely vegan and a great alternative to dairy-based milk as it is versatile and cheap to make. The milk or cream form of the coconut can be used in many ways and is often used to make non-dairy substitutes such as cream or ice cream.