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Which vegan milk is best for the environment? (bbc.co.uk)
23 points by camtarn 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

Almond milk is my bugbear.

Comparing the land and water use of cows versus almonds is ridiculous for many many reasons.

If you've been to a cattle ranch (not a CAFO) and to an almond farm, you'll know exactly what I mean. Almond land use is land use: it's barren of all life besides almond trees. Ranch land in comparison is typically semi-arable, has living things other than cows on it, and while cows sequester water (like all other living animals), the notion that they use more water because rainfall catchment on ranch land isn't absolute is a collossal error in thinking.

Also note that calories per 200ml aren't shown, which is really where the math breaks down. Whole milk has 160 calories per 8oz glass.

Unsweetened almond milk has 40 per 8oz glass.

Soy milk, the most calorie dense of out all of them, which is totally reliant upon monoculture, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers only has 80.

So, you know, multiply the vegan options, or divide the cow milk appropriately.

There are fantastic naturally vegan foods (including whole almonds and whole soybeans). Investigate those before indulging in ersatz environmental sleights-of-hand.

There are also tenable reasons to be vegan (or at the very least to reduce animal product consumption). Arguing that lifestyle identity products are sustainable isn't one of them.

Final positive note: oats and oatmilk are fantastic. You can make it yourself, then cook the sludge for porridge. Oats grow on marginal semi-arable soil and their husks are useful. Eat more oats.

You make lots of very good points. However, I think a glaring assumption you are making with cows is that all milk in the world is fully ranch raised. From my understanding, the vast majority of the world’s “commodity soy” you describe is actually fed to cattle/other animals for either beef or milk production. Often, at least what I have seen is that soy milk in super markets is labeled “organic”/non-GMO which directly implies that it is a different breed of soy, separate from the commodity soy used as feed.

When factoring that only a portion of the worlds milk is fully “ranch raised” - there is strength in the case for soy milk over cows milk.

I really don't like arguments that lose nuance. I appreciate you bringing and pointing out some here.

The study most people quote has a huge variation in CO2 based on farming practices. It also doesn't compare eating seasonally appropriate foods vs out of season foods. I think it's an over simplification of a problem to push an agenda.

Edit: I was trying to hold it in, but I couldn't so here's the rant.

For that matter, we really need to pull out our CO2 calculators and add up kids, dogs, cars, insulation, houses, etc. Let's see what your CO2 budget can be.

I get that we need to work toward reducing CO2 footprint, but how many of us are willing to tell others they should cut the way WE want them to cut rather than giving them options. The Vegan agenda is 2 fold. If you eat meat, your bad for eating animals and now for not believing in global warming enough.

No, I believe in global warming, I just prefer to take a bus and try to eat humanely grown meat that has a lower impact. But that's me, and if you go vegan and decide you don't want to ride the bus, that's ok. Do what you can.

What is your definition of humanely grown meat?

And secondly how do you ensure it meets your criteria and where do you get it?

Good question.


Find a bunch of people and get a half cow. No not all my meat comes from here, but this is what I look for when I can.

Thanks - had a look at their page.

I find it a bit strange that they use the word 'harvested'. They mention it's stress free.

Why not just use the actual words, like killing and slaughtering. Are they afraid it's going to turn people off?

Animals can feel when they are about to die and this alone creates stress - so this whole process is certainly not stress free.

I don't think you can kill a living being (e.g. cows or pigs) that doesn't want to be killed - in a humane way.

We have to face the fact that our demand for meat creates animal suffering and when it comes to factory farming also environmental destruction and poor working conditions for other humans. We then have to ask ourselves why are we eating meat - for survival or for pleasure?

In modern socities it's mostly for pleasure - which then becomes a moral question, i.e. does my demand for meat justify all the things mentioned above?

Also, when you look up the definition of 'humane' it includes the words 'compassion' and 'act of kindness'. Mixing those words with killing and slaughtering (when it's not necessary for ones survival) somehow doesn't go well together.

But making an effort to only purchase meat from those farms you mentioned is still better than purchasing meat that comes from factory farms.

Never heard of oat milk, but appears even unsweetened oat milk has too many carbs. My favorite is unsweetened almond/coconut milk for low carb and good taste.

But for coffee creamer, I think whipping cream tastes better. I use low carb keto coffee creamer in powder form, for ease of use.

It's weird oat milk is only recently becoming popular. It tastes great, it blends well in coffee or tea, it's easy to make, oatmeal is dirt cheap, and it froths up nicely for lattes or cappuccinos or what have you. I'm glad it's catching on!

I was actually impressed with Soy milk when I tried it. Going to give oat milk a try as well.

It does feel like a movement is happening - perhaps it's the time of year but there does seem to be more coverage of animal-free diets. I do wonder if they'll be a time in the future where eating meat becomes socially unacceptable?

Personally I've really cut down on my meat intake, and it's been easier than I thought. It's the final 20% that's the hardest though!

It's not in your imagination.

My SO works at a consumer packaging agency. They hosted a seminar on the rise of the vegan food industry a few months back. Moreover, here's another relevant graph:


Is it comparable to almond milk or the other... milks? For lack of a better term. I'd be interested in trying it.

I think it tastes better, though that's subjective obviously. Works better in hot drinks (foams better and seems to be more heat-tolerant; almond milk seems to scorch pretty easily and end up tasting burnt). Plus it tastes vaguely sweet on its own, maybe because some of the starches naturally break down in production, whereas with almond and other plant milks you either end up with something cloying or something overly "healthy" tasting, depending which side of the sweetened/unsweetened dichotomy you end up on.

Nutrient wise, it's definitely lower in protein than dairy milk, but that's true of most plant milks, so it's no worse than almond there (though probably worse than soy, or than some of the newfangled ones made from legumes like Ripple, which is made of yellow split peas). Worth checking the label though if there are other macronutrients you care about.

I haven't tried other diary alternatives but recently tried Oatly and was pleasantly surprised. By itself it tastes remarkably similar to diary milk with oats in, minus the bits!

In a word, yes. Tastes vary, of course, but why not try?

Pea milk isn't represented, possibly because it is fairly new. I've been drinking Ripple Vanilla and it's like a healthy version of the Carnation Instant Breakfast shake. It has a thick consistency, unlike almond milk and friends. It might be too sweet for some.

Ripple appears to be a bad choice of names, though, as a senior lady prompted me to investigate what ripple meant in the 70s: "A slang term for cheap or low-quality alcohol, usually wine. Has a negative connotation", courtesy of urban dictionary.

I am pretty much impressed by the January spike / trend. This is kind of mirroring the growth potential behind these products. Just by a rise in awareness. Somewhat something I believe is slowly developing globally - that people become more and more aware of the stark issues of climate change and the already high quality of the solutions.

I love this news!

So, I think water should also be measured in amount of scarce water. There is no issue when there is enough fresh water supply.

How do other factors like transportation from country of origin and other processing affect the impact? Dairy likely still by far the worst but if you take into account moving all the almonds to the UK etc

Should it be sugar free or low in sugar? Cow Milk is so much sugar.

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