30 Aug Almond Milk: Bad For The Planet?
Since the curse on lactose, more and more people drink soya or other vegetable milk species. Cow’s milk would be too fat, full of hormones and for baby cows, not for people. Almond milk in particular is very popular, but this nut milk is not the healthiest or most sustainable around.
Some people make a lot of money on so-called ‘almond milk’. Did you know, that on average, a container of almond milk only contains about 2 percent almonds? Everything else is water, sugars and other additives. And the only reason most of us started drinking in the first place, is for the proteins….Well, two almonds per container won’t get you very far.
But there’s more. To produce one almond, no less than five liters of water is required. In comparison, to produce cow’s milk only one liter of water is needed. Not the most sustainable option then. The issue is that only few areas around the world lend themselves to the cultivation of almonds.
Especially in California almond producers emerge rapidly…while we all remember California recently dealt with the largest draught for decades. To obtain water, farmers lay wells that can be up to 760 meters deep; literally draining the land which causes the soil to decrease by about 28 centimeters a year.
With the ever-rising demand for almonds, the scale on which these nuts are grown resembles overcropping. Almond milk may be tasty, but unfortunately it is not that healthy or sustainable.
So which alternative ‘milk’ is best, environmentally speaking? It is difficult to find solid data directly comparing all varieties, but it does appear that coconut milk requires less energy and water and produces fewer greenhouse gases than almond (or soy) milk. Also, coconut farming is fairly low impact, requiring little fertilizer or pesticides, and may help sequester carbon. Then again, I doubt you’ll find any local coconuts, so the shipping costs must be considered.
What all these plant milks have in common is that most commercial varieties come with additives and extra sugar, not to mention packaging. So, let me encourage you to shop for sustainable non-dairy alternatives that are local organically grown and produced. It means that your ‘milk’ has the least amount of carbon and water footprints possible, the crops grown have had the least amount of chemicals sprayed (if at all) and are not genetically modified. Plus, it also ensures the local industry can thrive and expand.
Or, just skip the ‘milk’ altogether as calcium or protein comes from plenty of non-dairy sources, too.