Almonds and almond milk are both delicious (let’s be honest). This is a delicious nut whether roasted or raw. It’s wonderful that it’s the world’s second-most-consumed nut (only behind peanuts). However, as is customary, the promises of green consumerism (which is still consumerism!) are generating new markets. And these markets aren’t necessarily as long-term as we’re led to believe.
Almond milk is bad for the environment because of its high water use (and resultant droughting effect). When you consume it outside of its main producing countries, the harm is magnified due to transportation-related emissions. When deciding between almond and dairy milk, consider if you want to advocate for climate change (by choosing almonds) or for water shortage (by choosing dairy).
Choosing brands that use sustainable ways of cattle production or agroecological methods of irrigating water into California’s almond crops, on the other hand, can help lessen the impact of both types of milk. And the best way to find out is to ask companies to provide more evidence of their CSR efforts, including CSR reports and impacts.
There are more choices, which we haven’t looked at in depth in this article. However, while they outperform on some impact measures, they outperform on others. Rice milk, for example, consumes less water than almond milk but emits more pollutants. Rice, ahead of ruminants and animals, is one of the world’s greatest producers of methane emissions, according to a study on greenhouse gas emissions from rice farms. The same benefits and drawbacks apply to oat, soy, and even goat milk.
Almond milk emits less environmental gases and requires less land than dairy milk, but it is notorious for its high water consumption. Almond milk uses the most water of any of the dairy alternatives: a single glass of almond milk requires 130 liters of water.
About 80% of the almonds used in milk in the United States are grown in California, however due to the hot temperature, the almonds’ high water consumption puts a lot of stress on the dry, desert soil, especially during the frequent heatwaves and fires that ravage the state.
What role do bees play in this? All those almond trees need to be pollinated! The burden of the bees increases as the almond industry expands. Every spring, about 70% of commercial bees in the United States are enlisted to pollinate almonds. It’s believed that one-third of the bees died last year as a result of the stresses of this growth mismatch.
If you’re trying to figure out if almond milk or oat milk is better for you, look at the ingredients on the label. Both employ oils and other chemicals to give them a smooth milk-like feel.
Coconut sounds like a refreshing drink, and it appears to be something a caveman (or woman) would like. Heartwarming, romantic, and with a lovely tree to call home! However, the story is one of sweatshop conditions in poor countries, where pickers are paid less than a dollar per day.
Farmers are taking shortcuts and even forcing monkeys into inhumane labor techniques to meet worldwide demand for coconuts, according to a PETA report that reveals how the animals are attached to poles and forced to mount trees to shake loose the coconuts (an animal abuse story that has garnered international attention). “The coconut is an awful tragedy,” Isaac Emery, a food sustainability consultant, says. Cooking with coconut oil is a luxury, but it was brought to market under tough circumstances.
Meanwhile, the rainforest is being cleared to make way for these rows and rows of trees, which contribute very little to the planet’s biodiversity. According to a New York Times study, rainforests in Indonesia were clearcut at a rate of three acres per minute between 2007 and 2014 to make room for coconut palm palms. Choose Fair Trade certified coconut products to avoid supporting unsustainable methods.
Rice milk is recognized for being a less expensive option than its nut milk counterparts. However, when compared to other vegan milks, rice provides nothing in the way of nutrition or environmental benefits. Rice absorbs water and emits more greenhouse gases than any other plant species, according to an Oxford research. Furthermore, the swampy paddies leak methane into the atmosphere, as well as allowing germs to flourish and be released into the sky. When it comes to water pollution, rice is one of the worst offenders.
The chocolate lover’s dream, the innocuous hazelnut, is on the rise. Hazelnuts, like all nuts, grow on trees, and all treesindeed, all plantsuse the energy of sunlight. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water from the ground, then release oxygen into the atmosphere (photosynthesis!). As a result, hazelnuts are better for the environment than almonds since they are pollinated by the wind rather than bees. Hazelnuts are native to wetter climates, such as the Pacific Northwest, where water is more abundant than in parched California.
Hemp Milk and Flax Milk
Hemp and flax haven’t received the same attention as oat and almond, but they deserve greater recognition for requiring less water, producing high-protein milk, and having a high fiber content. Because they’re grown in such small quantities, they’re referred to as “niche crops.” Seeds, on the whole, are easier to grow than nuts and provide more healthful fats, minerals, and nutrients per ounce.
Soy is the winner in terms of both sustainability and protein content. And, after years of being misinterpreted as a plant-based phytoestrogen that women avoided because they feared it would increase their risk of breast cancer, new research shows that the opposite is true: that when taken in moderation, soy appears to have some preventive effect. Recent research has indicated that a moderate intake of soy is healthy and may even help regulate hormones.
Soybeans are farmed in huge amounts around the world to feed livestock for meat and dairy production, which is the biggest environmental disadvantage of soy milk. To make room for soy plantations, large areas of rainforest in the Amazon have been destroyed. To get around this, simply do some research and read the label to identify soy milk manufactured from organic soybeans cultivated in the United States or Canada.
No one could have predicted the love affair that would ensue when the latest Swedish invasion, in the guise of Oatly, arrived in the United States many years ago. Oat milk is strong in protein and tastes much like genuine milk. Growing oats has a modest environmental impact, at least for the time being. Oats are good for both your health and the environment. Also regarded as a low-input crop, oats provide crop diversity, minimize soil erosion, and help reduce the risk of plant diseases when planted in rotation. The magnificent oat is a hero grain in its own right.
Oat milk sales in the United States increased from $4.4 million in 2017 to $29 million in 2019, putting it ahead of almond milk as the fastest-growing non-dairy milk. Oats may become more of a commodity in the future. But, for the time being, there are enough oats to keep us on Oatly for many years.
Oats are typically farmed in mass-produced industrial agribusinesses, where farmers spray them with Monstanto’s glyphosate-based pesticide Roundup before harvesting. As you may be aware, Roundup has been linked to cancer in a number of high-profile cases in which jurors awarded large sums to plaintiffs. Farmers are still aware of the well-publicized occurrences, but they continue to use the chemical because of its effectiveness. Bayer, which purchased Monsanto in 2018, is disputing the active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, causing cancer in people.
So, how much glyphosate is actually in your bowl of oats or your oat milk latte? Glyphosate was identified in all of the goods tested that used conventionally produced oats, as well as one-third of items manufactured with organic oats, according to a recent study by the Environmental Working Group. The popular Oatly brand oat milk firm, on the other hand, claims that its oats are glyphosate-free.
Pistachio milk, a latecomer to the party, is having a moment in the spotlight. That’s because the rich tiny nuts produce a convincing milk-like flow that goes well with coffee and froths up like real cream in lattes. Tache and Elmhurst both make pistachio milk, which we tasted.
Pistachios are popular not only because they are high in protein and fiber (6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per ounce), but also because they include micronutrients and critical vitamins and minerals such as calcium and zinc, making this nut milk well worth the 92 calories per cup.
If you’re looking for the most environmentally friendly non-dairy milk, you should know that pistachios use half the amount of water as almonds and are on level with oats in terms of water use.
Pea protein milk uses less water than other milk alternatives and emits fewer greenhouse gases than the majority of non-dairy milks. One explanation is that peas use 85 percent less water to grow than almonds, and they can use nitrogen from the air to form plant cells, requiring less fertilizer than other plants, which has a high carbon footprint. “Peas are significantly better on a water and carbon basis,” said Adam Lowry, inventor of Ripple Pea Milk.
Due to its minimal water requirements and the fact that it requires less fertilizer than any other non-dairy milk alternative, pea milk may be one of the most sustainable solutions for your non-dairy milk selections.
Cashew milk is the most similar to almond milk in taste and consistency, with one major difference: cashew milk is made with far less water than almond milk. Cashews, on the other hand, are not water-sparing: they require more water to grow than seeds or legumes. Overall, cashew milk is a sustainable option because it requires less area to cultivate the plants, especially when compared to other plant-based milks. Cashews’ demise is due to the mistreatment of cashew pickers. Some people boycott cashews because of the poor working conditions, which include the usage of labor camps in some locations where cashews are farmed and processed for milk.
Macadamia milk uses far less water than almond or dairy milk to develop and create. However, countries where macadamia nuts are regularly grown, such as Australia, Hawaii, and other tropical regions, have been dealing with severe water shortages and other climate-related challenges. As long as pesticides are not utilized, macadamia nuts are considered moderately sustainable since they cause less environmental impact to air, water, land, soil, and forests. If possible, purchase organic and non-GMO Macadamia Milk.
Sesame milk is a new plant milk on the market that you may not have heard of but is a terrific alternative if you’re looking for a sustainable option. This non-dairy milk replacement made from sesame seeds may be the most environmentally friendly non-dairy milk on the market.
One of the few sesame milk brands currently on the market, Hope and Sesame, claims that its alternative milk uses 95 percent less water than almond milk and 75 percent less water than oat milk. Drought-tolerant, self-pollinating, naturally pest-resistant, and hardy, sesame plants are native to Africa and India. Pesticides and herbicides aren’t needed for them to thrive.
Sesame milk consumes only 12 liters of water per liter of milk, compared to 28 liters of water for one liter of soymilk, 28 liters for each liter of oat milk, and 371 liters of water for each liter of almond milk. All are superior to cow’s milk, which necessitates the use of 628 liters of water to make one liter of milk.
Is almond milk more environmentally friendly than cow milk?
Milk is a basic food in many cultures throughout the world. However, dairy can significantly add to our food’s greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for just over a quarter of the carbon footprint in normal EU diets, and up to one-third in some cases. 1
As people become more aware of this, they are turning to plant-based alternatives. Non-dairy milks are currently consumed by one-quarter of adults in the United Kingdom, according to polls (although not always exclusively). It’s much more popular among younger people, with one-third of 16 to 23-year-olds choosing it. 2
Soy, oat, almond, rice, and coconut milk are among the ‘plant-based’ milk replacements now available. This begs two questions: are plant-based milks truly better for the environment, and which is the best?
We compare milks on a number of environmental criteria in this graph, including land use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and eutrophication, or the pollution of ecosystems with excess nutrients. These are measured in milliliters of milk. 3 I discuss some of the differences in nutritional content of different milks at the end of this post, which are crucial to consider in particular groups.
Across all criteria, cow’s milk has a significantly bigger impact than plant-based alternatives. It produces three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, consumes ten times the amount of land, utilizes two to twenty times the amount of freshwater, and results in significantly greater levels of eutrophication.
Switching to plant-based alternatives is a fantastic option if you want to lessen your diet’s environmental impact.
Which vegan milk is the best? It all depends on the impact we’re most concerned with. Almond milk emits less greenhouse gases and takes up less land than soy milk, but it requires more water and contributes to eutrophication.
Although all of the options have a smaller environmental impact than dairy, there is no obvious winner across the board.
Is it true that almonds are bad for the environment?
Almonds. It turns out that those nuts you love to strew on your granola every morning are greedy little so and sos, as each almond need a gallon of water to grow.
Which type of milk is the most environmentally friendly?
Cow’s milk is far worse for the environment than any of the non-dairy milks. They consume less land, less water, and emit less greenhouse emissions. Because almond trees store a lot of CO2 as they develop, almond milk has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions. However, of all the vegan milks, it uses the most water to make. Soy milk consumes the least amount of water and emits the fewest pollutants.
Which milk alternative is the most environmentally friendly?
Soy is the first plant-based milk, after all. Soy was once regarded as the go-to replacement, because to its nutritional benefits and milk-like flavor and texture. Soy milk is supplemented with vitamins A, B-12, and D, as well as calcium, and contains the same amount of potassium and protein as cow’s milk. The following are some disadvantages: Soy is a frequent allergen that contains isoflavones, which are estrogen-like substances that, in high levels, can cause hormone-related health problems such as thyroid dysfunction or fertility troubles. Soy milk manufacturing has a low carbon footprint and consumes less water and land in terms of sustainability.
Almond milk entered the food and beverage industry several years after soy, and while many say that it tastes and feels better, its environmental impact is a hot topic. Almond milk has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and requires the least amount of land to grow, but it needs nearly ten times the amount of water as soy milk. Furthermore, the majority of almond trees are grown in California, which is already prone to drought and heavily reliant on freshwater irrigation. Almond milk has a lot of nutritional value (it’s high in vitamin E and typically fortified with calcium and vitamin D), but is the amount of water it uses worth it? You might be better suited looking for a different type of plant-based milk.
Oat milk, a millennial favorite, is becoming as ubiquitous as dairy milk in many major U.S. cities. According to studies, oat milk has a smaller negative environmental impact than almond and soy milk; it consumes significantly less water and land, and emits a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, oat milk has the smooth creaminess that many coffee drinkers seek in dairy milk, making it an excellent alternative for both cafs and home baristas.
We’re telling you that there are now barista variants of hemp milk, just as you’ve learned about hemp’s various qualities as apparel and food! Hemp milk is not to be confused with marijuana hemp. Hemp milk is made from the seeds of the hemp plant. Those seeds are a superfood, with as much protein as soy beans, as well as vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, and other nutrients. It has none of the typical allergies, yet because it is a plant, it takes in four times the amount of CO2 that trees do. It also consumes extremely little water and grows organically without the usage of pesticides.
What kind of milk is the healthiest?
Hemp milk is prepared from crushed, soaked hemp seeds that are free of the psychotropic ingredient found in Cannabis sativa plants.
Protein and omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fats are abundant in the seeds. As a result, hemp milk has a somewhat higher concentration of these nutrients than other plant milks.
Although hemp milk is almost carb-free, some brands include sweets, which raise the carb count. Make sure to read the ingredient label and get hemp or any other plant milk that hasn’t been sweetened.
On the ingredient label, sugar may be described as brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, or cane sugar.
The seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant are used to make hemp milk. While the drink isn’t psychotropic, it does include more healthful fats and protein than other plant milks.
Is oat milk more environmentally friendly than almond milk?
When compared to cow’s milk, almond milk, and soy milk, oat milk has the lowest overall carbon footprint, according to data published by Columbia University’s Climate School. A seven-ounce glass of carbon dioxide contains around 0.4 pounds.
Is it preferable to drink oat or almond milk?
If you have a nut allergy or wish to enhance your vitamin B12 and riboflavin intake, oat milk is the preferable choice. If you’re trying to lose weight, almond milk is the way to go because it’s low in calories and fat. For additional information, go to Insider’s Health Reference library.
Is it true that bees are killed to manufacture almond milk?
Every winter, billions of honeybees are roused from their hibernation, transported to California, and exposed to a “soup” of bacteria, parasites, and deadly chemicals in order to serve as pollinators for the almond milk industry, which is rapidly expanding.
They become ill and weary, and many do not survive. Every year, up to 30% of the population dies.
Our vulnerable bees deserve better, and almond milk users deserve a product that is truly animal-friendly.
The good news is that almonds can be grown in ways that do not hurt or kill bees. However, Blue Diamond (Almond Breeze), the world’s most popular almond milk, would not commit to utilizing only bee-friendly almonds. Danone, the maker of Silk and Alpro, says it’s working toward bee-friendly accreditation, but hasn’t committed to a specific date.
Before it’s too late, we need to use public pressure to get almond milk companies on board with the bees.
Almond milk is the most popular plant milk in the world, outselling alternatives such as soy, coconut, and oat milk by a factor of nearly five. And the vast majority of the almonds used in it are grown in pesticide-saturated monocultures in California’s Central Valley.
Consumers who care about the environment are raking in billions of dollars from almond milk companies. They should be doing all possible to make their product sustainable, rather than cutting corners with megafarms that ignore their bees (on top of depleting California’s limited water supply).
That’s why bee researchers have detailed how almond farms can help pollinators live in a better environment. And if enough of us band together, we can ensure that every almond milk producer joins in.
After the Guardian expos on bees and almond milk in January, companies like Blue Diamond, Danone, and others are scrambling to maintain their products’ benign reputation. The time has come to campaign for a bee-saving almond revolution!
According to our findings, brands are making progress: Silk has worked to promote biodiversity on select California fields, while Alpro sources almonds from bee-friendly environments in the Mediterranean where it has implemented conservation projects. However, neither parent firm Danone nor competitor Blue Diamond (which is even further behind) have committed to a complete supply chain overhaul, let alone a specific date for using only almonds from certified bee-friendly orchards.
We can make almond milk into a dairy replacement that is good for all animals, including bees, with your support.