Oat Lattes to Save the Planet? A closer look at the environmental impact of alternative milks
Alternative milk has gained popularity in recent years, with more and more people looking for plant-based alternatives to traditional dairy milk. One of the main reasons a lot of people sight for this switch is environmental impact. Alternative milks use less land, produce less emissions, and use less water. Lets take a closer look!
Traditional dairy milk production requires a significant amount of land, as cows need pasture to graze on and land to grow feed crops such as corn and soybeans. In contrast, alternative milk production requires less land, as it is made directly from plant-based sources such as soy, almonds, oats, or rice (along with others).
Water usage is another important factor to consider when comparing the environmental impact of traditional dairy milk and alternative milk. Traditional dairy milk production requires a significant amount of water, as cows need to drink water, and water is also used to grow feed crops.
The water footprint of plant milks varies depending on the type but they are require significantly less water than traditional dairy milk. A common fact thrown around is that it takes about 4L of water to grow 1 almond and as such almond milk is a water intensive choice. This can be misleading without the full context.
Firstly, when choosing between almond milk and dairy milk, almond milk uses 2-4 times less water than dairy milk to produce so it is already has a smaller water footprint. Secondly the source of the water taken to grow the almond is important. Almonds grown in drought striken areas such as California are significantly less sustainable than almonds grown from an organic farm in a location with plentiful rainfall. One great example would be our own organic almonds which are sourced from Spain!
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions are another factor to consider when comparing the environmental impact of traditional dairy milk and alternative milk. Traditional dairy milk production is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as cows produce methane during digestion, and emissions are also produced during manure management, feed production, and transportation. Alternative milk production also has greenhouse gas emissions associated with it, but the emissions are generally lower than traditional dairy milk production. Emissions vary based on the type of alternative milk, but all emit less emissions than dairy on average.
This means when choosing your milk, you can feel confident that a plant milk is reducing your environmental impact compared to dairy milk. Make your selection based off personal considerations such as nutritional content, taste, and cost. Or you can just mix it up and try them all!