I’m a carnivore, so my experience in the vegan world is limited. I thought the majority of protein for vegans was tofu, but I just learned that hemp seeds are a vegan source of protein too.
Hemp seeds come from a breed of the cannabis plant that has low, or non-existent concentrations of the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The same plant used for hemp seeds is also used for hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper and even fuel.
The seeds themselves have a definite nutty taste and look much like cooked quinoa, except they’re raw. They’re great on salads, in granola bars, and can even be made into hemp butter for those who are allergic to nuts. They’re also an excellent source for non-animal protein – two tablespoons offers nearly 7 grams of protein. That’s one reason why I included them in several of my homemade protein bar recipes in my book, High Protein No Powder.
The nutritional profile is bigger than protein though. Hemp seeds also contain magnesium, phytosterols (plant-based, similar to cholesterol, but shown to help reduce cholesterol in humans), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), beta-carotene (half of vitamin A that provides the orange color in carrots and pumpkins), calcium, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and thiamine (vitamin B1).
If that wasn’t enough, you can also make homemade hemp milk! It’s a frugal alternative to animal milk, great if you’re not a fan of coconut milk, and very rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and micro-nutrients.
The Problem with Commercial Hemp Milk
I have three main problems with commercial hemp milk and why I recommending making homemade hemp milk instead.
1. The ingredients are questionable.
There aren’t many main stream sources for hemp milk. I may have seen one brand at Whole Foods and Amazon lists only two. Could it be the negative stigma associate with the term? Or maybe it just hasn’t caught on in main stream popularity yet?
In either case, the ingredients listed in commercial hemp milk are similar to those listed for commercial coconut milk. Like most commercially prepared foods, this is not a good thing.
The two brands on Amazon both list Vitamin A Palmitate (a synthetic form of vitamin A), additional synthetic vitamins and unnecessary sweeteners. Not all hemp milks are created the same though. This brand also has carrageenan, which we discussed here as being directly related to inflammation, and inflammation is turning out to be the root cause of a whole schlew of health issues.
In fact, it’s one of the dairy additives I recommend avoiding because it’s not healthy for the body.
2. It’s a processed food.
Another downside to commercial hemp milk is that we don’t know the complete processed involved at the manufacturing facility. High temperatures and modern day processes often damage food, causing those amazing nutrients to be lost in the final product.
3. It’s expensive.
Once glance at this page shows me that hemp milk is NOT cheap.
After setting on the brand that DOESN’T contain carageenan, and then sifting through a few of the sellers, the cheapest I could find one quart of hemp milk was for $4.70. Not as expensive as the coconut milk, but still – I’d rather not drink any milk than pay that much for one quart.
Fortunately, there’s a healthier and more frugal option. Make homemade hemp milk!
How to Make Homemade Hemp Milk
Making hemp milk is a very similar process to coconut milk. I’ve seen hemp hearts at Costco for $8.50, but it might not be available in all areas. Whole Foods carries them too, but they’re DEFINITELY pricier there. As of this posting, I’ve found hemp hearts…
- Amazon – Manitoba brand is 62¢ per ounce, and if you have Prime, it has free 2-day free shipping. (If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a FREE 30-day trial of Amazon Prime right here.)
- Vitacost – Vitacost brand is 59¢ per ounce. Shipping is free for orders over $25, and you can save $10 off your $30 order when you shop through this link.
- Thrive Market – Manitoba is the best deal, but it’s slightly more than Amazon at 65¢ per ounce. Thrive Market also requires a yearly membership, BUT you can get a free 30-day trial here AND a free jar of organic coconut oil when you shop through this link.
- 1 cup hemp seeds
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and process for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then repeat.
- Store in a jar, in the fridge. Shake well before using.
For one cup: ¼ cup hemp seeds, 1 cup hot water
Additional Recipe Notes for Homemade Hemp Milk
You’ll definitely have to taste this milk as you’re making it. Some people may not like the bold taste of hemp, but others who drink nut milk regularly may not notice. I thought the ratio of 1:4 with hemp seeds to water was perfect, but feel free to use more or less depending on what you prefer.
Some recipes recommend adding maple syrup or dates to sweeten the milk, but I’d rather not add sugar – in any form – if it’s not necessary. The vanilla extract and cinnamon were a perfect fit for this ratio and made me – a non-nut milk drinker – enjoy it much more.
Not every hemp seed will be ground to a pulp, so there’s the option of straining the milk through a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth or nut milk bag. The pieces weren’t large enough to deter me from drinking it as is, so you may find yourself not having to strain it after all.
More non-dairy milk alternatives:
We’ve been experimenting with a variety of non-dairy milks lately, with homemade hemp milk being just one of them. If you don’t have the ingredients to make hemp milk, I suggest looking at one of these other options: