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.
What makes almonds such a horrible choice for the environment?
Water is one of the major challenges. It takes around three and a half litres of water to make a single almond. The majority of almonds about 82 percent are grown in drought-stricken California, where the sector is worth billions of dollars. In California, the number of almond orchards has risen in the previous 20 years.
Is the manufacture of almond milk harmful to bees?
True, almond milk is delicious and healthful. Unfortunately, the manner it’s produced and made is too much for both wild and domesticated bees, as well as beekeepers who make a living raising commercial bees.
Which milk is the most harmful to the environment?
Plant-based milk can be made from practically any grain, but rice and oat are particularly popular. They do, however, necessitate more acreage than nut milks.
Rice milk consumes a lot of water. More importantly, because methane-producing bacteria grow in rice paddies, it’s linked to higher greenhouse gas emissions than other plant-based choices.
In some situations, arsenic levels in rice milk may be too high. Fertilizers used to improve harvests can also damage adjacent waterways.
Are almonds good for the environment?
Despite the fact that nuts have a lower carbon footprint than animal-based products, not all nuts are created equal in terms of sustainability.
Groundnuts, legumes (such as peanuts), and tree nuts (such as macadamia nuts) all require distinct cultivation techniques. Because trees absorb carbon from the environment, tree nut cultivation produces fewer GHG emissions per 100g protein.
Because almonds require a lot of water to mature, they are typically regarded as being less environmentally friendly. Each almond requires a gallon (4.6 litres) of water to manufacture. California produces 82 percent of the world’s almonds, and with the state still suffering from droughts, you can imagine where the finger of blame is pointed.
Almond cultivation has the potential to destabilize ecosystems and put a pressure on bee populations. Intensive pollination operations may cause bees to be hurt or killed during cross-country transit, which can spread diseases and illnesses to adjacent colonies.
Is this, however, a reason to avoid almonds? At the end of the day, almond cultivation has a substantially lesser environmental impact than beef production. In addition, efforts are being made to limit the amount of water used in almond production. Drip irrigation systems, which give plants with smaller, targeted amounts of water, have been introduced by many almond producers in California.
Macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts, on the other hand, are excellent examples of sustainable food production because they require little water and maintenance. Brazil nuts are also good for the rainforest and help to prevent deforestation.
Each of these nuts uses 2kg CO2eq to produce 1kg, which is the equivalent of a car driving 5 miles, according to Healabel. Almonds, on the other hand, have a higher carbon footprint, requiring 3.56 kilograms of CO2 equivalent to produce 1 kilogram. Walnuts and pistachios have the smallest carbon footprints, emitting 0.76kg CO2eq and 1.1kg CO2eq per kilogram of product, respectively.
But, according to Climate Smart Macadamia Agroforestry (CSMA), a technique pioneered by HIMACUL farmers with the direction of The Neno Macadamia Trust, macadamia nuts have the potential to have a substantially lower level of GHG emissions (NMT).
What is the most environmentally friendly milk?
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.
Q. Is it healthy to drink almond milk every day?
A. Almond milk is healthy for your body. Drinking a glass of this delicious beverage every day will assist you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One of the most important advantages of drinking almond milk on a daily basis is that it strengthens your immune system and makes it easier to fight infections and disorders.
Q. Is almond milk healthier than milk?
A. Almond milk has a lower carbohydrate amount than ordinary milk, although having a higher fat content. As a result, because of its low calorie content, almond milk is usually the best choice for dieters. With only 40kCal calories per cup, dairy milk contains nearly double the number of calories as unsweetened almond milk.
Q. Is almond milk good for weight loss?
A. Of course. Your weight-loss journey will be aided with almond milk. It’s because of the low calorie count. Almond milk is a popular weight-loss food that can assist you in a variety of ways. It also has a good amount of protein and is low in fat. As a result, it’s good for weight loss.
Q. Are there any side effects of almond milk?
A. Of course. Almond milk may have some negative consequences. These adverse effects, on the other hand, are exclusively caused by overconsumption and nut allergies. Nut allergies, thyroid problems, excessive blood sugar, skin responses, and stomach problems are all possible side effects.
Q. Is almond milk good for the skin?
A. Of course. Almond milk is beneficial to the skin since it is high in moisture. As a result, the skin is rejuvenated and refreshed, remaining smooth, plump, and hydrated. It also has a lot of antioxidants, which assist to keep wrinkles and fine lines at bay.
Q. Which is healthier, almond or oat milk?
In terms of nutrition, almond milk is somewhat superior to oat milk. Almond milk, for example, is high in vitamin E, which is healthy for your skin and immune system.
Q. Can I drink almond milk at night?
A. Almond milk is a sleep-inducing alternative to the conventional bedtime treatment, and it may be a good choice. Additionally, it raises serotonin levels, which can aid in better sleep.
Q. When should I drink almond milk?
A. Almond milk can be consumed in the morning or at night. It is entirely up to you when you want it. To gain the health benefits, though, it is recommended to have it first thing in the morning.
Q. Can you warm up almond milk?
A. At room temperature, almond milk provides all of its benefits. Low to moderate temperatures can be used to heat or warm it. It’s not a good idea to heat almond milk to a high temperature because it reduces its nutritious value.
Q. What kind of milk is good for PCOS?
A. Women with PCOS are more likely to develop insulin resistance, and dairy consumption can raise insulin levels. As a result, seek for unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk (unsweetened), hemp milk (unsweetened), flax milk (unsweetened), cashew milk (unsweetened), pea milk (unsweetened), and other healthy choices.
Why isn’t almond milk a vegan option?
On that topic, while certain almond milks may contain animal-derived chemicals, in all my years of checking almond milk labels, I’ve yet to come across any non-vegan components.
It’s a good idea to double-check the label because some almond milks are fortified with nutrients that may possibly come from animals. If vitamin D is present, for example, you’ll want to make sure it’s in the form of vitamin D2.
Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, can be obtained from non-animal sources (such as lichen), however vegan-friendly D3 is uncommon and is more commonly found in supplements than in food.
Why are bees dying as a result of almond milk consumption?
According to statistics, 50 million bees died between 2018 and 2019. Pesticides are used in excess on almond crops, which is damaging to bee populations. Almonds necessitate that bees awaken from their hibernation early in order to attend to the harvest season.
“The bees in the almond trees are being abused and humiliated,” Patrick Pynes, an organic beekeeper in Arizona, told the Guardian. They are in serious decline as a result of our damaging human interaction with them.”
Scientists are working on developing almond cultivars that pollinate with fewer bees to help alleviate the problem. California has also created a “Bee Where” scheme to coordinate hive locations and notify farmers about pesticide spraying.
SumOfUs, a vegan advocacy group, is questioning almond milk’s vegan credentials since it requires so many bees in its production. Commercial almond milk makers have stated that they hope to produce bee-friendly almond milk, but have provided no schedule or more information. Efforts to lessen the impact on bee populations have resulted in the development of a “Bee Better” certification. Farmers must boost biodiversity by planting clover, wildflowers, and mustard in between trees, according to the certification.