Does soy milk have gluten or dairy?

Soy milk is a plant-based milk alternative made from soybeans. It does not contain any dairy ingredients like lactose or casein. Soy milk is also naturally gluten-free. This makes it a suitable option for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergy, or celiac disease who cannot consume dairy or gluten.

What is soy milk?

Soy milk refers to a beverage made by soaking, grinding, boiling and straining soaked soybeans. It has a similar consistency to cow’s milk but has a bean-like flavor. Soy milk is lactose-free, cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat. It is rich in high-quality plant protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, iron and potassium. Soy milk comes in different flavors like original, vanilla, chocolate etc. It is commonly used as a milk substitute by vegans and people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy. Some of the popular soy milk brands are Silk, Pacific Foods, So Delicious, Califia Farms etc.

How is soy milk made?

Soy milk is made by the following process:

  • Soybeans are soaked in water overnight to enable quicker cooking.
  • The soaked beans are blended with water to form a slurry.
  • The slurry is boiled for around 20 minutes to improve flavor and kill bacteria.
  • The boiled slurry is strained to separate the soy milk from the pulp.
  • The strained soy milk may be flavored by adding vanilla, chocolate, etc.
  • The soy milk is packaged and sold chilled or in aseptic cartons that don’t require refrigeration.

Is there gluten in soy milk?

No, soy milk does not contain any gluten. Gluten is a group of proteins called gliadin and glutenin found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. It causes issues for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Soy milk is naturally gluten-free as it is made from soybeans and water. No gluten containing ingredients like wheat, barley or rye are used in its production. So people with celiac disease or who are following a gluten-free diet can safely consume soy milk.

Why is soy milk gluten-free?

Here are the reasons why soy milk is gluten-free:

  • It is made from soybeans which are naturally gluten-free.
  • No gluten containing grains like wheat, barley or rye are used to produce soy milk.
  • The equipment used to make soy milk is thoroughly cleaned to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Many reputed soy milk brands explicitly state that their products are gluten-free.
  • Soy milk is safely consumed by people with celiac disease who follow a strict gluten-free diet.

So people with gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy can consume soy milk without worrying about gluten exposure. Those severely allergic to gluten should still check the label to ensure no cross-contamination with gluten sources during manufacturing.

Does soy milk have dairy?

No, soy milk is completely dairy-free as it does not contain milk from cow, goat or any other animal. It is made from soybeans and water. Soy milk does not contain:

  • Lactose – Soy milk is lactose-free as it does not contain milk sugar lactose found in dairy milk.
  • Casein – Soy milk is casein-free as it does not contain milk protein casein found in cow’s milk.
  • Whey – Soy milk does not contain whey protein derived from dairy milk.

This makes soy milk safe for people with lactose intolerance, casein allergy, milk allergy or who follow a vegan diet. But some pre-packaged flavored soy milk may contain dairy ingredients like milk solids. So always check the label to ensure it is dairy-free.

Why is soy milk dairy-free?

Here are the reasons why soy milk does not contain dairy:

  • It is made from soybeans, not animal milk.
  • No dairy ingredients like milk, butter, whey, casein etc. are added.
  • The equipment used to make soy milk is thoroughly cleaned to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Reputed soy milk brands clearly state their products are vegan and dairy-free.
  • It is safely consumed by people with lactose intolerance or milk allergy.

Those severely allergic to dairy must still check labels for possible cross-contamination during production in shared equipment/facility. Overall, soy milk can be consumed worry-free by people avoiding dairy due to intolerance or ethical reasons.

Nutritional comparison of dairy milk and soy milk

Here is a nutritional comparison between 1 cup of whole dairy milk and original unsweetened soy milk:

Nutrient Dairy Milk Soy Milk
Calories 148 80
Fat 8g 4g
Protein 8g 7g
Carbs 12g 4g
Calcium 276mg (28% DV) 301mg (30% DV)
Vitamin D 124IU (31% DV) 101IU (25% DV)
Vitamin B12 1.1 mcg (46% DV) 2.1 mcg (88% DV)

Key points:

  • Soy milk is lower in calories, fat and carbs compared to dairy milk.
  • It has slightly less protein than dairy milk but the quality is comparable.
  • Soy milk is naturally rich in calcium. Many brands are fortified to have equivalent or higher calcium than dairy milk.
  • It contains added vitamin B12 and vitamin D to match standard dairy milk levels.
  • Both milks offer bioavailable calcium, protein, vitamin D and vitamin B12 in their own ways.

Benefits of soy milk

Here are some key benefits of drinking soy milk:

  • Lactose-free – Safe for people with lactose intolerance
  • Dairy-free – Safe for people with milk allergy
  • Vegan – Suitable for vegan diets
  • Gluten-free – Safe for people with celiac disease or gluten-sensitivity
  • High protein – Rich in plant-based protein
  • Low fat – Much lower in fat than whole dairy milk
  • Vitamins – Fortified with calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12
  • Bone health – High calcium helps maintain bone density
  • Heart health – Free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat
  • Cancer prevention – Contains isoflavones that may help prevent certain cancers
  • Weight management – Lower in calories than skim and low-fat dairy milk

The key highlights are soy milk is suitable for lactose intolerance, milk allergy, vegan diets and celiac disease. It provides high quality protein, vital bone supporting calcium and vitamins in a low calorie beverage.

Risks and precautions with soy milk

Soy milk is safe for most people but there are some precautions to be aware of:

  • Allergies – Some people may be allergic to soybeans and should avoid soy milk.
  • Thyroid issues – Excess soy may impact thyroid function, especially in people with poor thyroid health.
  • Phytic acid – Soy contains phytic acid that may inhibit mineral absorption in sensitive individuals.
  • GMOs – Most soy crops are genetically modified, which may be a concern for some consumers.
  • Added sugar – Flavored soy milks often contain added sugar increasing calorie content.
  • Carrageenan – Some soy milks include the additive carrageenan linked to gut inflammation.
  • Cross-contamination – Possibility of exposure to dairy or gluten during processing in shared equipment.

Those with soy allergy, poor thyroid function or wanting to avoid GMOs/carrageenan may wish to avoid soy milk or choose suitable brands. Overall, soy milk is safe in moderation as part of a balanced diet for most healthy individuals.

Who should avoid or limit soy milk?

The following individuals should avoid or limit soy milk intake:

  • Those allergic to soybeans
  • People with poor thyroid function, especially women with hypothyroidism
  • Children under age 1 year due to high phytic acid content
  • People wanting to avoid GMOs or carrageenan

Those with soy allergy must avoid all forms of soy including soy milk. People with marginal thyroid function may wish to limit soy milk/isoflavone exposure. Carrageenan and GMO avoidance is an individual preference issue.

Uses and recipes with soy milk

Here are some common uses for soy milk:


  • Drink plain chilled
  • Heat and add cocoa powder for hot chocolate
  • Add to tea, coffee, lattes as a dairy milk substitute
  • Use in smoothies and milkshakes

Cereal and oatmeal

  • Pour over cereal or porridge instead of dairy milk
  • Use in overnight oats recipe
  • Combine with granola

Baking and desserts

  • Replace cow’s milk in cakes, muffins, cookies etc.
  • Use in dairy-free ice cream
  • Add to chia pudding, rice pudding, custard
  • Blend with tofu to make soy yogurt

Savory dishes

  • Stir into soups, risottos, oatmeal
  • Mix with mashed potatoes
  • Use in dairy-free cream sauces
  • Marinate tofu in soy milk before frying

Soy milk can seamlessly replace dairy milk in most recipes. Always opt for plain unsweetened varieties for cooking and baking. Flavored soy milks work well in beverages, smoothies, cereal and oats.


In summary:

  • Soy milk is a plant-based dairy milk alternative made from soybeans and water.
  • It does not contain any dairy components like lactose, casein or whey.
  • Soy milk is also completely gluten-free as it does not contain wheat, barley or rye.
  • It provides high quality vegan protein, bone supporting calcium and is fortified with vitamins D and B12.
  • Soy milk is suitable for people avoiding dairy, gluten or both from their diet.
  • Some precautions apply for individuals with soy allergy, thyroid issues or wanting to avoid GMOs/carrageenan.
  • Soy milk can be used as a direct replacement for cow’s milk in most foods and beverages.

In short, soy milk is free of both gluten and dairy. This lactose-free, vegan beverage can be a nutritious option for most people as part of a balanced diet. Those with specific concerns related to soy milk should be mindful of them when making dietary choices.

Leave a Comment