Choosing a plant based milk alternative can be overwhelming. There are so many to choose from. Which one is best for the environment? Which one tastes the best? Which one is right for me? Hopefully this guide will help you to determine which plant based milk suits your needs.
There is general agreement between scientists and consumers alike that the dairy industry is problematic. Milk production is detrimental to the environment. It takes a lot of land, water, and resources to feed the cows. Cows emit methane gas, and two-thirds of all ammonia. A lot of energy is needed to process raw milk, package it, and transport it to supermarkets.
Environmentally conscious consumers who want to preserve the planet and live sustainably turn to plant based milk alternatives. These alternatives have pros and cons and varying degrees of impact on the environment.
Almond milk is one of the most popular milk alternatives. Almonds have health benefits, good fats, protein, and flavonoids. Almonds do have an impact on the environment because they require large amounts of water to grow. It takes about one gallon of water to grow one almond. Unfortunately, most almonds in the United States are grown in drought prone California.
Coconut milk is low in calories, but tends to be watery. Most producers of coconut milk fortify it with vitamins and minerals to make it healthier. Coconut milk has a low impact on the environment. Coconut trees do not require large amounts of water. Another bonus is that coconut trees filter out carbon dioxide.
Rice milk is another popular alternative. It is sweet and has a pleasant texture. It tastes delicious with cereal or cookies. Rice milk is a good alternative for those with nut allergies.
Rice is grown all over the planet. It does require large amounts of water, and some varieties are genetically modified. Rice paddies can potentially be contaminated with arsenic.
Hemp is a very eco friendly crop. Just about every part of the plant can be used. Hemp filters out carbon dioxide. The plant is hardy and needs less pesticides. Hemp milk contains more calcium than dairy milk, omega 3 fatty acid. Hemp milk is beneficial for brain and heart health and has anti inflammatory properties.
Oats help fight bad cholesterol, but you have to consume a lot of oats every day to get the benefits. Oats do not require much water to grow. Commercially produced oat milk is fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Soy milk naturally contains potassium, and is fortified with vitamins and calcium. Soy milk is high in protein, with a similar amount found cow’s milk, but it’s low in calories. Soy milk does not have a lot of saturated fat.
Bottom line: any plant milk is better and more sustainable than dairy milk. It’s all up to you and your personal preference. My favorite plant milk is coconut, what’s yours?