The answer to this question can be a bit tricky, because it depends on what brand of soy milk we are talking about. Technically, soy milk is not a dairy product, and is in fact chosen by many vegetarians and vegans as a plant sourced replacement for cows milk. The ingredients in pure soy milk are simply soy beans and water, making the product decidedly non-dairy.
However, some manufacturers add powdered milk derived from animal sources as an ingredient in their soy milk in order to improve texture and overall taste. They may also add calcium or other ingredients that are not wholly plant derived. So while the bulk of the ingredients in most all soy milks do not contain any dairy products, some types of soy milks may be considered as dairy because of these added ingredients.
All ingredients in the milk are required to be strictly labeled on the side of the packaging. So refer to the ingredients list on the side of the packaging to definitively determine if that particular soy milk contains any dairy products. There are many brands of “vegetarian” soy milk to choose from which have extra ingredients other than water and soybeans but do not have any animal derived products in the ingredients.
If you are attempting to reduce the amount of dairy in your diet for either health reasons or simply concerns about the environmental impact on our planet from the consumption of meat and animal products, switching to soy milk can be beneficial.
There are many rumors out there that soy milk either tastes bad or is unhealthy, both of which could not be further from the truth. Soy milk is healthy, and although it can take a little getting used to if you have grown up drinking cows milk, it taste great as well.
Try using it to replace dairy milk in your cereals, milk shakes, and smoothies. I personally enjoy soy milk as a coffee creamer every morning. You will appreciate its health benefits and its longer shelf life, too.