The Mic Network reports that “Almond milk, the ever-popular soy-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly milk alternative now found in chic eateries and coffee shops everywhere, is destroying the earth.”
According to a Fortune Magazine article, almond milk has grown in popularity as a dairy-free alternative for vegans and lactose-intolerant coffee drinkers alike in recent years, becoming more popular than other non-dairy milks. The market for almond milk grew by 250 percent between 2010 and 2015.
When compared to dairy milk, many consumers choose almond milk since it has a lower carbon footprint. However, almond milk has a negative impact on the environment in other ways, which may surprise you. The main concerns with almond milk production are water use and pesticide use, both of which may have long-term environmental consequences in drought-stricken California, which produces more than 80% of the world’s almonds.
Commercial almond farming in California necessitates irrigation with ground and surface water diverted from the state’s aqueduct system. According to a New York Times report, it takes around 15 gallons of water to produce 16 almonds, making almonds one of the state’s most water-intensive crops. Almond milk’s reputation as a healthy alternative has been questioned by critics who argue that the nutritional benefits do not outweigh the amounts of water required to cultivate almonds.
Given that California produces more than two billion almonds, it’s simple to see why the amount of water diverted for this purpose is significant enough to be concerning. And, because many almonds are cultivated on land that has been converted from natural areas or farms cultivating low-water crops to fulfill the expanding demand for almonds, the increased irrigation needs have been significant.
Forbes reports that “Almond farms have been established on 23,000 acres of natural land. 16,000 acres of the area had previously been categorized as wetlands. In addition, some agricultural land has been turned to almonds from lower-water crops.”
Because the ground in the San Joaquin Valley, where most almonds are grown, is already sinking due to groundwater depletion, the additional wells farmers are digging to irrigate new orchards could have long-term consequences for California and its residents who rely on groundwater for drinking water.
Pesticide use in commercial almond production has been known to contaminate already scarce water supplies and contribute to the toxification of drinking water for people in California’s farming areas, exacerbating the problem. The USDA Pesticide Data Program has identified residues of nine distinct pesticides on almonds, five of which are hazardous to honey bees, according to the Pesticide Action Network, creating another another environmental threat.
A final point to consider is that certain store-bought almond milk brands contain carrageenan, a stabilizer and thickening chemical that has been linked to gastric issues.
According to the California Almond Board, the almond industry is working to promote sustainable water usage and boost water efficiency, so there are some solutions in the works. And, while just a few million almonds are currently certified organic, more farmers are opting to go this route, resulting in a rise in certified organic almond products on the market.
- Think about your possibilities. You might alternate between several non-dairy milks, as each has its own set of perks and drawbacks. Goat and sheep milk are nutrient-dense and less allergic alternatives to cow’s milk.
- Make your own version. If almond milk is a must-have in your life, try making it at home with organic almonds. At the very least, you’ll be able to manage how much water is used in the milk-making process, resulting in a purer product.
- Purchase organically certified products. Pesticides aren’t used in certified organic almond milk, and there’s often less water used as well. When shopping, pick this option. Inquire if the caf uses certified organic products, and if not, propose they do so.
- Carrageenan-containing brands should be avoided. When purchasing almond milk, read the label carefully and avoid types that contain carrageenan.
Organic milk or almond milk: which is better?
The fat and salt content are nearly comparable, and while cow’s milk contains somewhat more protein, it’s not enough to make a significant difference in your diet. Almond milk is somewhat healthier than cow’s milk and is good for lactose-intolerant persons. It also contains vitamin D, which cow’s milk does not.
Is organic almond milk healthy?
Vitamin E, an important antioxidant, is abundant in almond milk. Vitamin E can aid in the prevention of significant health problems such as stroke, heart disease, and even cancer.
Enriched almond milk, depending on the brand, can also be a good source of:
Some critical nutrients found in other types of milk, such as vitamin D and protein, are not naturally present in almond milk. Many almond milk manufacturers sweeten it with sugar.
Look for unsweetened almond milk that has been fortified with elements like phosphorous, which helps with energy levels and bone health, and vitamin D to obtain the maximum nutritional benefit.
Which nut milk is the most nutritious?
There are several ways to assess the nutritional value of foods, and each of the nut milks listed above meets distinct nutrient requirements.
Almond milk and cashew milk, on the other hand, have the best overall nutritional profile.
One cup of each delivers approximately 25 to 50 percent of your daily calcium and 25 percent of your daily vitamin D in an extraordinarily low-calorie package. Both are high in vitamin E, with cashew milk providing 50% of the recommended intake and almond milk providing 20%.
Despite the fact that both cashew and almond milk are low in protein, many health experts believe that Americans consume enough of this macro in their diet. So, for the most part, cutting back on protein in nut milk shouldn’t be an issue.
Another nut milk, on the other hand, might be preferable for you if you have special dietary needs, such as more protein or higher-than-average calories.
And, sadly, if you’re allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, you’ll have to avoid all nut milks. Instead, use soy, coconut, or hemp milk.
What kind of almond milk doesn’t include carrageenan?
One of the most popular nut-based milk replacements is almond milk. Some brands, however, thicken with carrageenan. Silk Unsweetened Original Almond Milk is devoid of carrageenan and high in protein. This almond milk substitute can be used in smoothies, cereal, baking, tea or coffee, and even straight from a glass, just like cow’s milk. Silk Unsweetened Original Almond Milk is cholesterol and saturated fat free, in addition to being healthful and nutritious. $62.29. This bulk bundle contains two 6-packs of 32-ounce jugs.
Is almond milk or oat milk the healthier option?
- Gluten may be present in some oat milks, rendering them unsuitable for gluten-free diets.
- More sugar and preservatives may be present. This is done to extend the shelf life of the milk and improve its flavor.
How to make oat milk
You may have had McQueens oat milk before, but have you ever attempted to make it yourself? It’s easy to make your own oat milk, and it only requires one ingredient.
To produce your own oat milk, all you need is 100 grams of porridge oats. It’s easier than you think to make your own oat milk. You can control exactly what goes into it if you make it yourself.
- Fill a bowl halfway with water from the tap and add the porridge oats. Allow the bowl to sit for 4 hours or overnight after covering it with a tea towel. Do not store it in the refrigerator.
- After allowing the oats to soak overnight or for 4 hours, strain the mixture through a strainer, allowing the water to drain. Rinse the oats for a few seconds under the tap.
- Combine the oats, 750ml cold water, and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is perfectly smooth, with no visible oats. The creamier your homemade oat milk is, the more you combine it.
- Place the sieve over a basin or jug and let the liquid to drain. Allow for 1 hour of straining time.
- Take the sides of the cloth together and squeeze tightly to remove the oat milk once the majority of the mixture has been drained.
- You can now bottle it and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to drink it. If the oat milk is too thick for you, add 50ml of cool water until it reaches the desired consistency.
Oat Milk vs Cow’s milk?
If you’re lactose intolerant and looking for a dairy-free, gluten-free milk substitute, oat milk is the way to go. The contents in both are dramatically different, with oat milk containing significantly less calcium than cow’s milk. Although certain oat milks contain calcium, it is recommended to get calcium from cow’s milk. Vitamin D and B12 levels are higher in oat milk. This isn’t to suggest that cow’s milk doesn’t include these essential vitamins; but, if vitamins are vital to you, we recommend choosing cow’s milk.
Oat Milk Calories
You might be shocked to learn that oat milk has a low calorie count. Although the number of calories in oat milk varies depending on the brand, the average number of calories in oat milk is around 130. With 39 calories, this is the least calorie-dense of our Oatly barista-style oat milk. Oatly full milk has 160 calories per 100ml, semi-skimmed milk has 46 calories per 100ml, and skimmed milk has 37 calories per 100ml.
Some people can’t or won’t drink cow’s milk because they don’t enjoy the flavor. Of course, oat milk is preferable. However, if you want to get all of the beneficial nutrients from cow’s milk, this is the way to go.
Which is the best milk alternative?
There is no clear winner because almond and oat milk both have their own set of advantages. Oat milk is also thought to have more calories than almond milk. Lactose-intolerant people will benefit from oat milk. It has 120 calories per serving against 60 calories in almond milk, so it may be the better choice if you’re looking to save calories.
Almond Milk vs Oat Milk The verdict
Both of these plant-based milks have numerous advantages. There are a range of options available depending on what you’re searching for in a plant-based milk. Whichever alternative milk products you choose, we’re confident you’ll enjoy them. Oat milk is one of the best tasting oat milks and is ideal for lactose intolerant individuals. Because of its creamy and nutty flavor, almond milk is ideal for cereal. The dispute between almond milk and oat milk has no clear winner; each have their advantages, and it comes down to personal preference.
What makes almond milk so bad?
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.
It is nutritious
Although almond milk does not compare to cow’s milk in terms of nutrition, enhanced products get close.
They usually contain extra vitamin D, calcium, and protein, making them nutritionally comparable to ordinary milk.
Almond milk, on the other hand, is naturally high in various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin E.
The table below compares the amounts of a few nutrients, vitamins, and minerals found in a cup of enriched commercial almond milk versus a cup of low-fat cow’s milk, as well as some daily values (DV) (2, 3).