In celebration of World Plant Milk Day, we've compiled a list of the most popular milks with their pros and cons. You've probably already guessed that oat milk comes out on top for us, but that doesn't mean that we don't appreciate all the plant-based milks out there.
Soy Milk: The great thing about soy milk is that it contains a similar amount of protein to cow’s milk, making it an ideal alternative. Many plant-based proteins don’t contain a full amino acid profile (which is why you need to eat a varied diet!), but soy milk is rare in that it has all nine essential amino acids. Fortified soy milk contains calcium and iron, so you’re not missing out on your essential vitamins.
The downside is that soy is one of the leading genetically modified crops, designed to increase crop yield since soybeans are being grown in vast quantities for the livestock feed needed to fuel meat and dairy production.
Soy farming has led to mass deforestation in the Amazon, and is yet to become a sustainable practice.
Almond Milk: We love almond milk for its high concentration of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health, and we’re big fans of its nutty taste.
What we’re not so keen on is its environmental impact. Almond milk uses a huge amount of water in its production process, causing droughts in plantation areas, primarily in California where over 80% of the world’s almonds are grown. It has a smaller carbon footprint than dairy milk, but industrial production of almond milk is taking its toll on the environment.
Coconut Milk: We can’t pretend we’re not fans of coconut milk. It’s rich, delicious and, in general, its environmental impact is quite positive: coconut trees don’t use a lot of water and they absorb carbon dioxide.
Coconut trees are, however, only grown in tropical areas, so large-scale production of coconut milk could lead to environmental issues since there is limited land area where coconut trees can grow. There are also some labour issues associated with coconut production in low income countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, where workers are often paid poor wages.
Oat Milk: It may come as a surprise, but we LOVE oat milk. Making oat milk requires about ten times less water than cow's milk, leads to around 60% less greenhouse gas emissions and uses 60% less energy. It's also high in fibre and low in saturated fats. Not only that, but it is (by far, in our opinion) the tastiest plant milk out there with the best texture, making it perfect for creating creamy chocolate.
It is important to keep an eye out for oat milk brands, that don't use pesticides, that come in environmentally-friendly packaging, and that prioritise sustainable production.