Plant milks have become increasingly popular for many reasons in recent years, more people are now choosing a vegan diet or to reduce or eliminate their intake of dairy for health and environmental reasons. Now that there are so many alternatives on the market, the question is – which are the most sustainable?
Check out our summary below as we compare some of the most popular plant milks.
Soy milk is a very common choice as it’s been a go-to dairy alternative for a long time. Soy milk has both its pros and cons when it comes to being sustainable. The production of soy milk requires a lot less water than some of the other plant based milks which makes it good for the environment. The soybeans also fix the nitrogen levels in the soil as they are legumes. However the process does produce more green houses gasses compared to almond and oat milk.
Almonds milk fast became one of the most popular choices for those cutting out dairy. It is widely used in tea, coffee, smoothies and on the morning cereal. The biggest downfalls of almonds though is that they need a lot of water making it the least sustainable option from a water standpoint. Although almonds are nutrient rich, a lot of these are stripped out during the produce of making them into milk, meaning more almonds are needed to increase the nutritional value.
Oat milk is a popular option for eco-conscious consumers as it’s easy to make at home and fairs well in terms of sustainability. It is created by mixing the oats with water and an enzyme that helps to break the oats down. Of all the plant based milks, oats use the least amount of water in their growth and the production and has reasonably good nutritional value, all round Oat milk is considered one of the most sustainable plant milk options.
Coconut milk does not score well for nutritional value as it’s high in saturated fat but low in calcium, it is however very sustainable when it comes to the environment. Growing coconut trees does not require large amounts of water or cause deforestation. The coconut trees are also very good at filtering carbon dioxide out of the air, making them good for the environment. The production of creating the coconut milk that goes into your favourite drinks is also relatively sustainable and does not have a huge impact on the environment.
Macadamia Nut Milk
This is probably the newest of the nut milks available and it’s starting to increase in popularity as a more sustainable option for those that enjoy Almond Milk. Macadamia’s grow in more regions that don’t struggle with water shortages like Almonds trees do, its also nutritionally one of the better plant milks and grows right here in Australia.
Other things to consider
Each of the plant based milks can have pro’s and con’s when it comes to their sustainability and whether or not they are good for the environment and your personal health requirements. However, in addition to the growing process we also need to be mindful of how each company choose to harvest, package and transported their products.
So it’s a good idea to look at the whole picture when choosing which type of plant milk and which brand you will support. From the moment the plants are put into the ground, right through to you finishing a carton of milk. Choose the one that not only tastes great, but also leaves the least impact on the environment.
We would love to know which is your favourite plant milk?