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The rise of alternative milks (theguardian.com)
118 points by prostoalex 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 207 comments

I've completely switched to soy milk. It tastes a little different to cow milk but after a few cups of tea over a week I didn't notice anymore. Now cow milk tastes strange to me. Soy milk also lasts around a year unopened so you can save time buying it in bulk as a plus.

People need to stop expecting replacements to taste 100% identical to what they're use to and give their tastebuds some time to adapt. Same with meat alternatives. It's an extremely unrealistic and pretty silly requirement in my opinion especially if you're concerned with climate change.

I don't drink milk. But we do buy a half gallon of heavy whipping cream twice a month from Costco. It's not about the taste, but macros. Try getting the same fat/protein/carb ratio with soy.... FWIW I still drink almond milk occasionally. But it's no replacement for heavy cream in my coffee.

For me it's the same with fake meat. They tend to be carb heavy and little fat. Although beyond meat macros look pretty decent. Unfortunately it's $14/lb.

> For me it's the same with fake meat. They tend to be carb heavy and little fat

Have you looked into seitan and vital wheat gluten? You can make it yourself and it's very high in protein.

Tofu and tempeh are protein heavy with little carbohydrates.

Even easier, peanuts are _very_ protein- and fat-rich with almost no carbohydrates. I boil and can a kilo of peanut soup every two weeks and chug a can for breakfast every day—25g proteins, 50g fat.

Pouring it into a bowl with soy milk makes it a lot more palatable, but if you're just concerned about your macros, there are definitely more sustainable, plant-based ways to get 'em.

But this is only a half truth, in the sense that not all protein are equal. You can not get the same anino acid from plants as you can from meat. And that is without taking bioavailability into account.

According to sfgate[0], peanuts contain all nine essential amino acids, though they are relatively low in methionine. This can be supplemented with "almost any other plant food that is not a legume," including staples like wheat, rice, and oats.

[0]: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-make-complete-protein...

I agree. The goal of food must be that it’s is calorie and nutrient dense with as little expenditure or harmful. Hopefully we can find plant based alternatives and anything from perennials would be better. Like tree nut milks.

The cost of dairy milk is the methane side effect that is actually more harmful to our eco system than carbon ..especially with our changing climate.

I really like what’s happening with synthetic foods made using algae etc.

Food must also be delicious. Sapping joy out of life is not really a fun way to, well, live.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/intervie... : I recommend this interview with Michael Pollan to people who imagine that the way we eat now is ‘natural’.

'Delicious food' is very much a modern human invention. The vast majority of human history is full of foods that sustain life, but rarely 'delicious'.

Yes, but the point of human progress is not that we don't have to survive like our ancestors, but rather can thrive. Cases where the former occurs are not due to inherent necessity but rather due to faults of the dominant economic system.

there is always the issue of exponentially growth in population and shrinking natural resources like land, water and obviously climate change that are independent of economic systems.

Soy just tastes weird in hot drinks for me - though I switched to almond for cereals to reduce my milk intake to see if it would help my eczema

I find that I prefer soy with tea and coffee, especially coffee, I think that the slightly nutty flavor goes well.

If you have a soy vanilla latte that’s basically a three bean dip (apologies to those who know that neither vanilla nor coffee are really beans)

I’ve found Kikkoman Pearl is the best in coffee.

> Same with meat alternatives.

I politely disagree.

1. If you don't want people to expect it to taste identical, don't call it a "meat alternative". Just call it what it is (“soy patty”?), and then people will expect it to taste like that. 2. Have you tried the Impossible Burger? It’s pretty damn close.

I'd say if you want to reduce meat consumption because you care about climate change but you'll only switch if alternatives tastes identical to meat you probably don't care that much.

Maybe beef burger replacements are coming but we're not going to have indistinguishable alternatives to bacon, whole roast chicken, pulled pork, sirloin steak, duck etc. any time soon so people are going to have to be less picky for global meat consumption to be reduced.

Maybe you care about it a good amount but don't believe in consumer climate control? If you eat local grass fed meat and don't support destructive factory farming as well as support and push for vat grown meat, you end up decoupling these things. It's important to note that carnivores have existed for many, many years, and that it's also possible to construct clean, sustainable factories but we just choose not to, likely due to a lack of regulatory coordination, interest and pressure.

I think it's important to separate the utilitarian argument from the moralistic argument here. Climate change is in large part accreted by large corporations, and the manner that they interact with corporate social responsibility and regulation is largely what has the potential to change things. Beyond that, it's hard (though not impossible) to get the same macronutrient profile without meat consumption. And beyond pure nutrition, many gastronomic entities are simply out of reach. I think you have to really think about what the purpose is of food (lots of sides to that) and not work backwards from the premise that meat consumption is intrinsically a poor choice.

Vat grown meat technology is progressing at a pretty impressing clip from what I've seen. I think that's probably the technological change that will make this a lack of an issue.

> If you eat local grass fed meat and don't support destructive factory farming

Is this actually a feasible solution if meat is fundamentally inefficient?

"It would be far easier to feed nine billion people by 2050 if more of the crops we grew ended up in human stomachs. Today only 55 percent of the world’s crop calories feed people directly; the rest are fed to livestock (about 36 percent) or turned into biofuels and industrial products (roughly 9 percent). Though many of us consume meat, dairy, and eggs from animals raised on feedlots, only a fraction of the calories in feed given to livestock make their way into the meat and milk that we consume. For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork, or 3 of beef." https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-bi...

"Huge reductions in meat-eating are essential to avoid dangerous climate change, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of the food system’s impact on the environment. In western countries, beef consumption needs to fall by 90% and be replaced by five times more beans and pulses." https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-red...

> Vat grown meat technology is progressing at a pretty impressing clip from what I've seen. I think that's probably the technological change that will make this a lack of an issue.

I used to think this but it seems really silly to me now. We're going to require cutting edge technology to find a solution to the problem that people are too stubborn to adapt a little to combat climate change?

There's plant based alternatives that exist today that taste somewhat like meat that don't require expensive technology and research to produce. We already know how to grow plants on a massive scale and I can't see how vat grown meat is going to compete with that any time soon.

The requirement that we must have something that's close to indistinguishable from meat for people to switch seems an impossible bar to reach. Are people going to stick to cow milk until we devise technology to make a milk like product that's indistinguishable as well?

Perhaps if meat was taxed based on its contribution to climate change people would be less picky. Waiting on vat grown meat doesn't sound like a realistic solution, especially given what's being said about the time we have to act on climate change.

I don't disagree with your last point! I think it is about incentives and it's likely that the agro lobby (at least in the USA) is resulting in subsidies to meat that artificially lower its actual cost. But I will say that specifically, I find it very hard to get my omega 3s in a sufficient (and cost effective) quantity outside of meat and fish. The ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s is not great in many plant substitutes. I think it's only chia and flax seed that have a comparable ratio to grass fed beef, and even then, you don't get the same macronutrient profile as in fish. This is the case everywhere with meats and fish -- you actually can't completely replace the macronutrient profile with vegetables. You can get close, but you lose out on things, and this is especially the case for parts of nutrition that we're still continuing to learn more about. This is my oversimplification, but I think there's a reason why humans have been omnivorous for most of their history; personally, I've always felt most healthy when I've been omnivorous but leaning towards a plant based diet (easier to keep it diverse)

I'm a little curious as to why you didn't address my other points. I really don't agree with the premise of that guardian article. We need huge reductions to corporate emissions to avoid dangerous climate change. I think it's a bit of an anthropomorphic fallacy to believe that our consumption habits have a larger impact on the climate than demonstrably larger corporate contributors. It's pleasant to believe that we really have that much direct agency. But, it's wrong. If we really want to battle climate change, it requires coordinates, global pressure to the top.

> you actually can't completely replace the macronutrient profile with vegetables. You can get close, but you lose out on things, and this is especially the case for parts of nutrition that we're still continuing to learn more about.

Do we have a history of eating so much meat, corn and diary? Humans in history have had very varied diets depending on location as far as I understand and the existence of vegan + vegetarian athletes is very convincing to me we don't need meat.

> I'm a little curious as to why you didn't address my other points.

Which ones? I probably tried to implicitly.

> We need huge reductions to corporate emissions to avoid dangerous climate change. I think it's a bit of an anthropomorphic fallacy to believe that our consumption habits have a larger impact on the climate than demonstrably larger corporate contributors.

Given these figures, do you still think believe this?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding... "The new analysis shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions."

> If we really want to battle climate change, it requires coordinates, global pressure to the top.

Yes, but consumers definitely have an influence too. There's certainly been more demand for meat-free products in the last decade which companies are acting to profit from for example.

I agree with you that humans in history have had very varied diets. Some humans have had a very long history of lots of meat and dairy. Some have a history of eating grains, pulses, vegetables and other plants. It really depends on what point in time, what civilization and which geographical area we're talking about. Humans are remarkably capable of adapting to a very wide variety of diet when they need to. At any rate, I'd like to show a chart:


And this is just in the USA. Only 9% of emissions comes from agriculture. Even if you cut out all of that, you don't even nearly make a dent in greenhouse emissions. The real challenge is figuring out how we clean up our transportation, energy and industrial infrastructure. The problem is, consumption doesn't necessarily have an impact there.

I think I principally just really disagree with you about consumer activism. I think that the reason why regulation was needed in the first place in order to accomplish many overall wins was because consumer activism is just too weak. Long term, externalities will produce a race to the bottom that is disastrous for society -- individuals don't give things up for moral reasons, they give them up because of incentives. I think we need to close the feedback loop and take the negative externalities of all of these contributors to climate change and integrate them back into our financial, political and social incentives system.

But that requires us to take aim at businesses. Big businesses, of course, would rather us take aim at each other as consumers. If consumers are busy policing each other, they'll get distracted from ever holding the big businesses to task when they're not doing their fair share. And of course, it's scary to hold them to task. They have endless resources, they can bury individuals in court, lobby politicians, spend on PR campaigns that serve as risk mitigation for their regulatory costs. It's much safer to change your behavior as a consumer and moralize other consumers if they don't change their own.

But again, it has limits. Once you get beyond those limits, consumers do not have influence. But, consumers are citizens, and citizens have influence over their country. They can participate in their communities to perform direct action, they can run for office to effect political change, and they can organize to vote for politicians that can make changes that help society run better. I believe in there being more than consumerism to citizenship (not saying you don't).

> And this is just in the USA. Only 9% of emissions comes from agriculture. Even if you cut out all of that, you don't even nearly make a dent in greenhouse emissions. The real challenge is figuring out how we clean up our transportation, energy and industrial infrastructure. The problem is, consumption doesn't necessarily have an impact there.

See https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/10/huge-red... and the link to the Nature article:

"The research also finds that enormous changes to farming are needed to avoid destroying the planet’s ability to feed the 10 billion people expected to be on the planet in a few decades.

Food production already causes great damage to the environment, via greenhouse gases from livestock, deforestation and water shortages from farming, and vast ocean dead zones from agricultural pollution. But without action, its impact will get far worse as the world population rises by 2.3 billion people by 2050 and global income triples, enabling more people to eat meat-rich western diets."

> I think I principally just really disagree with you about consumer activism.

What should consumers do then? Nothing? Demand better meat alternatives? Keep eating meat? Stop eating meat?

Would your views here change if you agreed consumption has a big impact?

They would if I agreed, but I don't. Consumers have every right to demand better meat alternatives, but I think that's more because they're tasty and cheaper if anything. But they should understand that their consumption doesn't really matter and is a red herring. If you care about help solve climate change, the first step is understanding the largest contributors to it. For what it's worth, I do think that industrial agriculture is heavily flawed and unsustainable. But that cross cuts across meat and plant based agriculture, and I think it has more to do with how we turn arable land into monocultures that deplete the soil and destroy biodiversity. That's a problem, for sure, but it's not the biggest problem as far as climate change is concerned.

The biggest problem with respect to climate change is sustainable industrial infrastructure. It is not enough to consume sustainable products. We must demand and politically organize for sustainable infrastructure globally -- demand the allocation of resources, the stewardship of research and infrastructural development that will require. I think moralizing about the choices of what people eat suffers from a bit of tunnel vision. I'm also skeptical of any study that draws conclusions about climate change based on 9% of something's contribution to it. What is expected to happen with the other 91%?

I switched to soy milk for about four months, but ultimately went back to regular milk because it has less sugar and is less sweet. I imagine without the sugar it’s not as palatable, but it was a noticeable, negative attribute for me.

Try it unsweetened. Most non-dairy milk brands sell sweetened and unsweetened, flavored (usually vanilla) and unflavored. Usually the sweetened one adds up to 8g of sugar in 8oz!

I find the sugar is completely unnecessary, and usually skip the flavor as well. Soy and coconut milk have the best texture IMO.

Trader Joe’s and eden soy offer soy milks that are soy and water. No added vitamins even. Low on sodium and lower on carbs than cow.

You can buy a soy milk maker from Asian grocery stores and control the sugar intake till you get it down to 0. You buy soy beans (very cheap, also from the Asian store) and soak it over night. Then you put the beans in the soybean maker and it'll heat up and churn and churn till you get soy milk! Then you strain it and enjoy our fresh soy milk. What you do with the left overs is up to you, but you can make food out of it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okara_(food)) or just use it as compost.

Unflavored soy milk has a pretty distinct flavor that is different from regular milk. It's an acquired taste, and trying to use it explicitly as a milk substitute mostly doesn't work.

I grew up drinking soy milk, it's much more palatable when you don't treat it as its own drink instead of a milk substitute. I never put soy milk into my coffee/tea/cereal.

Regular soy milks only have ~2/3 the sugar of whole milk; it’s just that sucrose is sweeter than lactose.

If someone is looking to switch for sustainablity reasons, they shouldn’t be buying liquid non dairy almond either. You must need a handful of almonds to make your own almond milk. It’s wasteful in so many ways..from processing to transporting to the water content and all the middle men charges in the supply chain.

Soak almonds. Peel. Purée with water..strain. Or don’t. Fresh almond milk.

I realize many people won’t have the time to do it. And that’s ok. But I just want to put this out there because it’s so easy and there is no special process or ingredient. And it’s cheaper and more sustainable. And lesser carbon and fossil fuel foot print.

Plus pistachios make a great nut milk too.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, economies of scale mean that the efficiency of mass production should be far, far higher than a bunch of people individually making their own at home, especially when the alt-milk you’re making has a short shelf life. On the other, the logistical challenges of packaging, preserving, and distributing mass-produced groceries produces a lot of waste.

Here in Taiwan, most mom-and-pop (i.e., non-chain) breakfast shops will make their own soy milk by the vat every morning. You can swing by with an empty jug and fill it up at less than a dollar (US) a liter. Most of that money goes to labor, as the beans and sugar required to make a liter of soy milk cost less than 10¢. This is, to me, the ideally sustainable solution: micro-mass production, so to speak.

(Of course, very few people actually do it this way anymore, as most people here prefer the convenience of disposable cups and straws. But that’s another question for another time.)

Store bought almond milk also has additives that may not be good for you. Emulsifiers, thickeners, starches, preservatives, etc. For people with sensitive digestion, it may be safer to make it at home.


No additives. I swear by this brand.

Almond milk is still way more sustainable than cow milk. Maybe not as much as homemade but still an improvement.

Is it? I would expect the variance in the sustainability to be quite high, with the most sustainable (pasture fed) dairy farms being much better than the average almond milk producer. That’s just an intuition though.

Also assuming we’re talking per gram of protein and fat here. Cup for cup almond milk might be more sustainable but there’s far more nutrition in a cup of cow milk.

An almond tree lasts for decades while a dairy cow has a considerably short life during which time she is abused by the Ag system and releases methane, poop, consumes a lot of inputs and a lot of water and labour and fossil fuel and electricity and refrigeration. It costs a dairy farmer more to produce a gallon of milk than it costs the consumer to buy it. It’s an industry entirely supported by subsidies. So it’s not profitable either. Many dairy farms are shuttered and farmers are committing suicide in America. And many more older farmers end up severely depressed as they question the only way of life they know and it is increasingly becoming hollow and meaningless. It’s beyond unsustainable. It’s abusive to everyone on that supply chain.

”An almond tree lasts for decades while a dairy cow has a considerably short life”

That doesn’t matter, sustainability-wise. What matters is that the cycle gets closed, not its duration. Insects typically live shorter than mammals, but eating them instead of cows and pigs is a net win.

”and a lot of water”

California produces about 80% of the world’s almonds, and each nut requires 12 liters of water that do not get replenished.

”It’s beyond unsustainable.”

Not that different from almonds.

It’s easy for me to push my intuitions in either direction. I’ve been contemplating a YouTube channel that compares actual diets along all of these axes and shows real numbers. All I tend to see is hand waving, or very gross comparisons of single metrics (like co2) at the commodity level.

The heuristic “plants are generally more sustainable” reads true to me. But “pick the better kingdom” seems like such a low bar to clear. I’d like to head towards actual understanding of embodied energy, cruelty, etc per unit of useful nutrition in specific meal plans.

Nut bags (no giggling please!) are also super useful for getting the final mouthfeel correct. I usually do oat milk and keep it on hand for my tea.

I'm told making oat milk is similarly simple. That one is tempting because the ingredients are so cheap.

Commercial oat milk tends to have far more protein than almond milk too. Almond milk has almost none. Soy has the most.

(Although homemade almond milk would seem to have a lot more than boxed. 1.5 cups of almonds to 3 cups water is 7g protein per cup. Close to soy milk. Whereas commercial almond milk has more like 1g per serving)

What about hemp milk? I haven’t tried it yet.

I can only assume that it’s not ok to grow hemp in every state(USA)

I’ve seen hemp milk also in the middle range of protein, ~3-4g per cup, similar to oat milks.

> I'm told making oat milk is similarly simple.

The oat milk you get in a latte only tastes the way it does because it has oil and emulsifiers in it. If you just stick oats in a soy milk maker it's not going to come out the same way.

Yes, I did a cooking course in Thailand and they showed us how to make coconut milk by hand - it really was amazing how quickly the water went unctuous, creamy and thick as you massaged grated Coconut into water. Best coconut milk I've ever had without a doubt.

The other part is you will also have almonds to use for other purposes, like eating them raw or finding a recipe to make roasted almonds with spices you like or...

The almond meal can be used as a flour after its oven dried.

I also use it as a body scrub. It’s too abrasive for a face scrub.

I wonder if pigs or chickens would eat them...why waste?

I know a few vegans who introduced me to soy milk years ago. Now I think it has a fishy after taste and I can't stand it anymore.

2-3 years ago many grocery stores added other milk alternatives. While I think almond milk is the best, oat milk is the second place but much cheaper.

Generally, milk is heavily subsidized in Germany and alternatives are 2-4 times more expensive, so I don't know if this a little hype or the start of a lasting change. Milk costs like 0,60€ a liter, oat milk costs 1,50€ and organic almond milk can cost up to 4€ a liter.

As soon as you said "oat milk" is "much cheaper," I knew this had to be in Europe. It's far more expensive in the US than it is here, particularly compared to American soy and almond milk prices. I believe this will change over time due to the large increase in interest (Oatly from Sweden has a North American product and now Silk is starting their own) and the existence of a significant domestic oat industry.

Is almond and soy milk a bigger thing in the US?

Yes, they're far more common. I don't recall seeing oat milk on store shelves until very recently.

According to a source, "almond (64 percent market share), soy (13 percent market share) and coconut (12 percent market share)"


EDIT: I should add, for those interested, that this dominance is perhaps less strange when noting that California alone produces around 80% of the world's almonds.

here in canada (bc) the oat milk is usually a bit cheaper than soy milk.

For what it’s worth, Oatly is using Canadian oats in North America.

Interesting; have you tried different soy milks? Some use seaweed extract which might give such an aftertaste (though I've never noticed).

Milk is subsidised in many markets, either directly or indirectly; but the demand side makes a big difference too. Also, things are often priced to what people will pay...

Yes, I tried a few.

It was like a negative aha-moment, a taste that was always there but I never noticed it, when it finally clicked, and I found out it was a fishy taste soy milk pretty much died for me.

Have you ever tried freshly made soy milk (i.e. made the same day from just soy beans and water in the traditional way) ?

You are describing a placebo. You tricked yourself into thinking it's fish (if anything it's algae/carageenan) and that you don't like fish (algae). You can train yourself back and enjoy the benefits of soy milk.

The texture of oat milk is offputting for me. So thick

Really? To me, it was the main selling point.

I also like rice-soy milk, it doesn't have the strange after tastes of soy milk, but it's just so thin, hehe.

I'll mix oat milk with coffee but I cant drink it plain. The texture and taste are not good.

Coffee is the main place I've experienced it, really dislike the texture vs other milk alternatives. Almond milk I think is actively better than milk in some scenarios (matcha lattes)

I also can't do oat milk plain, but with cornflakes it works out quite well.

I put away about three gallons of milk a week. I just drink a lot of it (and obviously lactose intolerance isn't a problem). I can't ever stomach these.

My wife, on the other hand, budgets her lactose intake, prefers lactose-free milk (which I find unpleasantly sweet), and will readily drink almond and soy milks which I can't stand. But I'm firmly ready to believe that I'm the dinosaur here.

You can stand just about anything, just have to give it a chance. I’m reminded of a decade or two back when I switched to diet drinks, though I preferred the sugared. Now sugar soda tastes horrible. In the 80s we moved to low-fat milk, shortly after whole tasted horrible. How did I ever drink this?

Take a month off then try a unsweetened coconut/almond blend, get over the hump, wait two months. You’ll be surprised at the taste and possibly disgusted you ever breastfed as an adult at a random animal you don’t know.

It's tacky to try to describe things in weird terms to make them sound bad instead of arguing their merirs. I'd rather "breasfeet at a random animal" than "eat genetically engineered things that grow in dirt and manure, covered in bugs".

Most gmo free at our market. Drinking milk as an adult is weird. One is natural, one isn’t.

> One is natural, one isn’t.

Yes, but not the one you mean.

Cow milk: can consume it straight as it is produced by nature, right out of the cow (but chilled is probably tastier). Can consume milks from lots of other animals, too. The only reason adult animals don't frequently consume milk is probably just availability. https://biology.stackexchange.com/questions/64822/are-humans... has interesting info, including adult wild birds finding they could peck through aluminum lids to get milk and wild gulls consuming seal milk.

Soy milk: consuming a liquid produced by soaking, cooking, blending, and straining a plant part that is unsafe for humans to eat until processed by heat or fermentation. https://healthyeatinghttps://healthyeating.sfgate.com/happen... Then if you're buying it from a market, it has probably been packaged into a plastic or plastic-lined container (like commercial cow's milk) and processed to be shelf-stable for months, all to provide a close similarity to that "weird" drinking milk as an adult.

"Natural", although often overloaded and used politically, can't quite stretch that far.

I don’t drink soy milk. Packaging is hardly relevant. You may have missed the part of the article that describes how most adult humans are lactose intolerant.

Almond and coconut milk? Yes, almost as natural as cow milk.

But why are you blending and steeping and straining the coconut/almond material instead of just eating it? Oh yeah, because you want it to be like what you'd get from "breastfeeding from a random animal" as an adult.

Lactose intolerance is about as relevant as nut allergies, except it's unlikely to kill you.

So cooking is unnatural to you? Uh huh.

Absolutely - cooking is a totally unnatural thing that humans have learned to do, because it provides additional nutrients, calories, and variety. Find an animal in the wild that cooks its food... Closest may be the firehawks, which may spread fire to help hunting (live) prey. (Though many wild animals are happy to consume cooked food if available!)

But in drinking "not animal milk" you're trying to artificially approximate the experience of drinking "animal milk", which you described as unnatural.

Note that I'm not one to say that "unnatural == bad". I think cooking is good. I think dairy is good. I think consuming something nutritious in its natural state is more natural than cooking something.

You're free to differ.

You do get used to it, but it is also a different experience. Most plant based milks won't be fresh (both in taste and literally) or neutral in taste. If I drink soy milk for awhile I can appreciate it, but I still wouldn't drink it as a standalone beverage. On the other hand I don't really have a need to drink milk as a beverage either.

I ate a lot of milk and cheese my entire life. Once I stopped, it was shocking how the aroma of dairy changed for me. Now it smells like old fingernails and skin, which makes perfect sense.

> Now it smells like old fingernails and skin, which makes perfect sense.

Doesn't make 'perfect sense' to me. Maybe poetic sense if you're coming from a certain point of view.

If I’m not mistaken, the composition and origin are fairly similar. Milk is something that is excreted from a reproductive gland on a stock animal.

which is not where nails come from.

Calling breast a reproductive gland is weird. It's a secondary sexual feature, sure, but it's a feeding gland, whose specific purpose is to provide edible nourishment.

Yeah, nails come from a similar process on a different part of the same animal. Not sure why you want to argue this point so much. To me, milk and cheese now smells like a bunch of old skin. Maybe you should try it and check back with your own results.

Your explanation of breasts is kind of odd, too. Biologically, the only purpose they serve is reproductive. Who exactly do you think is being fed by those glands? Your best friend’s mom? You are trying to say that nourishing your young is not a reproductive activity? Then what is it? Fine dining? If the purpose is to provide ‘edible nourishment’ for just everyone apparently, where are all the breast cafés? I would love some edible nourishment.

Actually this might an interesting read..I have been obsessed with this for a bit now..re why mammals nourish their young with their bodily secretions..: The Evolution of Milk Casein Genes from Tooth Genes before the Origin of Mammals : https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/28/7/2053/1047188

And this:

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150725-breastfeeding-has-an... : why did some animals evolve milk and breastfeeding

> "...almond and soy milks which I can't stand. But I'm firmly ready to believe that I'm the dinosaur here."

why do you need to? it's understandable that others want alternatives for whatever reason, but there's no shame in liking cow milk. it's delicious.

sometimes the next new thing really is better (to you), but worrying about what's fashionable becomes a tiresome treadmill.

Milk was always my favorite drink and I consumed 2+ gallons a week as well (full fat). Last year I decided to test out weaning myself off of it to see what if any impact it would have on my body. I tried every alternative on the market and my findings were:

1. unsweetened hemp milk has the best taste and consistency but is too low in protein to be a full substitute

2. Silk's Protein Nutmilk has the next best flavor and an acceptable consistency but with a better nutrition profile

After a couple of weeks, I stopped craving cow's milk. Still eating plenty of cheese and yogurt though.

Any impact on your body? I mostly switched because almond milk is lower calories and I used to drink a ton of milk so it seemed healthier. Now milk smells and tastes gross to me. But I've switched back and forth a few times, so I know that would go away if I went back.

Your stomach will change and get used to digesting whatever you eat after a while.

If you can't/won't drink animal milk, try Ripple. It's by a significant margin the best facsimile thus far, and they even make a heavy-cream version.

The vanilla version was tasty, but the plain version was not "yummy." I like what they're doing and want them to succeed so maybe have to give it another go.

Perhaps my ancestors were steppe barbarians or something but nothing beats raw cow milk, a taste I never get tired of. These alternatives are fine novelties but they don't come close.

They're probably not really trying to come that close. If you drink almond milk expecting it to taste like milk, you'll be disappointed but if you drink it for what it is, not expecting it to taste like milk, it's fine.

I agree with you completely, but the marketing and narrative around these products really invite the comparison.

Sadly they need to cater to a audience that craves familiarity and fears change.

Considering someone went through the trouble of inventing, manufacturing, and marketing them when milk was already there, I expect them to taste better.

I'd argue we shouldn't always optimize for taste. I drink a mix of plant milks and grass fed milk (mostly I use it in baking or yogurt making.) I buy for sustainability, taste, cost, and ethical animal treatment reasons.

In fairness, your ancestors, I'm assuming, were likely not lactose intolerant.

I think most of these alternatives are targeted, at least in part, at that market.

If you enjoy cow's milk continue drinking it of course. The alternatives are mainly for either the lactose intolerant or moral dietary practitioners (such as vegans).

I myself enjoy cheese and fatty meat on daily basis.

I have lactose intolerance, I am allergic to tree nuts, have an intolerance to legumes, and have yet to find a certified gluten-free coconut milk. Let me know.

Lactose-free dairy milk is probably your best bet. Lactaid is the main brand in the US, but in recent years it seems most of the major dairy brands have a lactose-free SKU.

If you are lactose, nut and legume intolerent, why is gluten free important?

I have been diagnosed with celiac disease by blood test and biopsy.

The two reasons would be Celiac disease, or pseudoscience. Since there is no reason that someone with Celiac couldn’t also be lactose, nut and legume intolerant, it could be that.

I assumed thay given they called our lactose nut and legume allergies that if they were celiac,they would have mentioned.

Lactose intolerance isn't an allergy. It's lack of an enzyme, so microorganisms end up breaking down the sugar, leading to the gas and other symptoms.

I was just being unclear, sorry.

Gluten is also inflammatory for Hashimoto's

have you tried oat milk?

Oats are oftentimes processed alongside wheat, which means they might contain trace amounts of gluten. This was an issue with Cheerios for many years.

I used to drink it and like the flavor, but haven’t tried it since I have been diagnosed with celiac. Oats are very commonly contaminated with gluten, so it would have to be lab-tested (certified gluten free) every batch. Then, there is a question whether some people with celiac react to oat protein.

Rice milk could qualify.

As a grain product it’s important for it to be lab tested or certified gluten free to under 5 ppm. Rice is one of the least accidentally contaminated at the sourcing, along with corn, but it also depends on later processing.

Oatly is awesome. It’s a great example of the potential of synthesised foods to replace our current consumption habits.

My kids are variously vegan / flex, and since I only put milk in coffee, it wasn't worth keeping milk in the fridge for, so switched to one of their alternatives. Soy curdles, so almond it was, until I learned that it takes ~5 litres (1.1 US gallons) of water to produce a single almond!

The Oatly post here a few days ago may have been a shill, but it was enough for me to try it. Far closer to the taste of cows milk than Almond milk IMH(non Vegan)O.

I’ve seen it estimated that it takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce a gallon of cow milk which would be twice what it takes to produce almond milk.

Some quick googling suggests there are 4 cups of almonds in a gallon of almond milk, and ~25 almonds per cup, so about 100 gallons of water per gallon of almond milk from just growing the almonds. That's a factor of 20x, if we believe it takes 2000 gallons of water to make a gallon of milk.

But another source on the top links of Google says it takes about 4 gallons of water to make a gallon of milk. This is a difference of 250x. That would imply almond milk takes 25 times as much.

It shocks me how such a seemingly basic consumer question could have such wild orders of magnitude variance in the apparent answers.

I mean at a minimum that lower number not taking into account the water needed to feed the cow, grow the cows food etc. I'm sure almonds is a lot of water but there is no way it's close to a dairy cow.

Do you count the rain that grew the grass the cows eat or not? In some water usage calculations they only count unnatural usage, ie irrigation and pumped drinking water.

4 to 1 is nowhere close to the right ratio for water to milk produced. The numbers vary a lot depending on the region and how you calculate them but the correct range is between 100:1 and 1000:1.


Your kids can enjoy soy milk so you finish a quart or half gallon together in a week.

I was meeting a client yesterday at their office, they offered me coffee and asked me if I wanted milk, then whether I'd like oat or regular. I said regular (usually drink oat but was somehow preoccupied) and the response was "yea, fortunately that's still available".

To me that was a pretty striking example of how the realities of what climage change is going to push us towards are sinking in.

Today we’re (the general “we”, not you and I specifically) looking at the milk we put in our coffee with disdain, tomorrow we’ll be looking at the coffee in a similar manner.

Probably someone somewhere out there already is and we’ll start seeing the headlines, blogs and podcasts about it in the near future. By building our societies around globalization, we have in some ways made our societies necessarily globalized. Everything we import/export has a fuel cost including ourselves when we’re the passengers, and that cost doesn’t stop at National borders, but incurs every time we move anything anywhere any distance.

So when you have a popular crop, coffee, almonds, tea, coconuts, whatever that can only be grown in certain parts of the world, it is going to have an outsized impact on the global fuel economy relative to crops that are grown and consumed locally. The more fuel we consume, the greater the amount of carbon emissions we output, and carbon dioxide only has a global warming potential of 1 (as the base unit). Methane has a GWP of 86 across a score of years and 34 across a century.

Now so far as I know, the GWP metric is only used for individual gases, but if you were to try to isolate it on a commodity by commodity basis, I’m betting Cow’s milk as transported to and sold in the supermarket today wouldn’t look great. I’ve worked in a cafe and I know approximately how much milk we went through in a week, often because I was the one buying it. Even a small mom and pop café can easily go through 40+ gallons a week, and that was hardly the only dairy product sold (cheeses of all sorts, whipped cream, ice cream, cheese cakes, chocolate cakes, pastries). I don’t even want to think about the amount of milk a single corporate chain like Starbucks or Peet’s goes through on a weekly basis.

Fortunately cow’s milk is still available. That is really an understatement on your client’s part. I think humanity will sooner die out or go back to a technological dark age from which it never fully recovers before we give up cow’s milk in its entirety in just the US, never mind the rest of the world.

That isn't necessarily true that local is better environmentally - even assuming that bulk freighters will still be carbon sourced. It may feel flattering to just think of everything in cozy communities and they may taste better from being fresher but it is more complicated than just shipping miles.

There are other variables involved including farming efficiency, transportation efficiency, and the logistics of distribution. Going to get your groceries from a 5 minute away grocery store that gets their groceries from thousands of miles away in bulk shipments may ironically be more efficient than driving an hour away individually to get groceries from the local farmer's market. Essentially for the same reason that concluding that buses are worse than cars because they get lower miles per gallon is incredibly wrong.

What has climate change got to do with cow's milk?

You need lots of cows for cow's milk. You need lots of food and water for cows. You need lots of plants for cow's food. You need lots of water, pesticides, energy for plants.

Plus: production of greenhouse gas, water pollution

> You need lots of cows for cow's milk. You need lots of food and water for cows. You need lots of plants for cow's food. You need lots of water, pesticides, energy for plants.

And how are alternative-milks a better solution especially as they are also (but directly) plant-based?

> Plus: production of greenhouse gas, water pollution

If people are actually concerned about the natural environment they would be giving up their cars, instead of going on a plant-based diet, which raises the question of just what other biases cause people to do so.

"Animal agriculture is responsible for 13–18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, and less in developed countries (e.g. 6% in the USA). Fossil fuel combustion for energy and transportation is responsible for approximately 64% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, and more in developed countries (e.g. 80% in the USA)." https://skepticalscience.com/animal-agriculture-meat-global-...

> And how are alternative-milks a better solution especially as they are also (but directly) plant-based?

Come on. Yes you also need plants, but way way way less than using cows. In other words, cows are a very inefficient source of milk compared to oat or soy or almonds.

> If people are actually concerned about the natural environment they would be giving up their cars

It's not all-or-nothing you know, it's still good to do some effort, and it's way easier to give up cow milk than to give up cars (just buy a different kind of milk VS move out). And some people actually are giving up their cars. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's the same people without some statistical source.

There is another reason to switch from milk. For men over the age of 45, there is correlation between the natural (or added) hormones excreted into the milk and prostate growth causing an increase in urination difficulty. [1]

[1] http://vqrn.com/Prostate-Milk-Problem.html

I do care about nutrition, currently anything but soy milk is just water. Still environmentally friendly. Almond Milk has a couple of almonds in the bottle.

All those milks and yet i still can't find a single one that's not completely saturated with Calcium. The levels of calcium added to these milks is truely staggering. Sure, the carton says 30%, but it's actually 65% of your RDI because here in the US the dairy industry has been pressuring for higher and higher recommendations of Calcium. the WHO recommends 500mg, not 1200mg!

Is there any reason to avoid the USDA intake of 1200mg instead of the WHO 500mg? Is it a health issue? A taste issue?

I am not at all a medical professional and I am on my phone so I can't give sources, but consuming calcium reduces iron absorption? Don't know about side effects, but I know you want your calcium and iron levels balanced. Same with zinc and copper.

TIL the weirdest term ever, “share of throat.”

As a vegan/firefighter I made the leap from not drinking milk to drinking milk about a year ago and I'm never looking back. Milk is the future.

You consider yourself a vegan, but you drink milk? Am I missing something? Also why are you so excited about milk, you don't really explain.

Milk may not be the healthy food it was touted to be, but neither are most if not all of these "milks" that are basically mostly water and sugar. I'd take lactose over fructose or glucose any day. That's the main selling point: a slightly sweet, natural drink sweetened by lactose rather than fructose and glucose directly. Otherwise, I might as well drink soda--from looking at the sugar content of most of these "milks" it's roughly as healthy.

I don't know what region you are in, but in the US almost any store that stocks non-dairy milks will sell sweetened and unsweetened.

Though I agree with disliking the sweetened stuff. I'm not sure who the market for the sweetened stuff is for - coffee creamer maybe, or trying to simulate milk lactose? but the unsweetened works just as well in any scenario.

Additionally, nut and oat milks are very easy and cheap to make with just a blender and cheesecloth. You can control the amount of food you want to "milk" and change the thickness/mouthfeel, add a little vanilla and end up with a much better result than the 'watered-down' store brands.

Yeah but the problem with unsweetened soy and almond milk (and even slightly sweetened) is that it's fucking disgusting so it has no use for me and for anyone that feels that way. I highly doubt any of the other veggie milks here are less disgusting. I would guess that lactose free milk is also disgusting before they add sugar back in but can't prove it.

> fucking disgusting so it has no use for me and for anyone that feels that way

That's a completely different argument from your original one. And you could apply it to any food, a lot of people find cow milk "fucking disgusting", there's no point arguing on subjective taste

It's a different argument because it addresses a different point: "unsweetened works just as well in any scenario." Clearly, that's not the case as the sweetened and unsweetened versions are not comparable due to taste.

Perhaps that's coming from the preparation of the milk and not the milk itself? I personally really dislike any kind of a sweet milk and sweet flavors in general, so I've learned to appreciate the different flavors for what they are. Expanding your palate is not a given (at least not for me), it's sometimes a thing you've got to actively put effort into, and it's also something that changes as you get older.

> Milk may not be the healthy food it was touted to be, but neither are most if not all of these "milks" that are basically mostly water and sugar.

I don't know why you'd write that. The almond milk I buy is unsweetened, and I'm pretty sure it's a popular one since they sell it by the pallet at Costco. All the common soy milks offer an unsweetened option AFAIK.

Is this the almond milk you buy at Costco? https://www.costco.com/Kirkland-Signature-Organic-Almond-Bev...

It may be unsweetened, but it has a lot of added ingredients you might not want. Here are the nutritional facts: https://www.costco.com/wcsstore/CostcoUSBCCatalogAssetStore/...

* Organic Almond Base (Filtered Water, Organic Almonds)

* Organic Vanilla Flavor

* Sea Salt

* Sunflower Lecithin: this is an emulsifier

* Organic Locust Bean Gum: a thickening and gelling agent

* Gellan Gum: another gelling agent

* Vitamin A Palmitate: an ester of retinol, less bioavailable than the retinol vitamin A found in animal foods

* Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2): a different type of vitamin D than D3 (cholecalciferol) which is found in organ meats, eggs, diary,

* DL-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E): a synthetic ester of alpha-tocopheryl, with less than half the bioavailability as alpha-tocopheryl vitamin E, but longer shelf life

* Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

* Zinc Gluconate

* Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)

I drink unsweetened soy milk, it contains 1g of sugar per serving. Even the fully sweetened variant contains only about 2/3 the sugar content of regular milk.

> I'd take lactose over fructose or glucose any day.

I came to the same conclusion, to expand on this point: lactose = glucose + galactose, and there is some interesting research on the benefits of galactose:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3240634/ Galactose Enhances Oxidative Metabolism and Reveals Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Human Primary Muscle Cells

normally it is broken down to glucose, which can be quickly used for energy by the muscular system. In contrast, sucrose = glucose + fructose, the fructose requiring a complex breakdown process by the liver (see Robert Lustig's research, especially his 2009 lecture _Sugar: The Bitter Truth_).

Milk can actually be quite healthful, an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, depending on the conditions the cow was raised in and the forage and pasture she was fed. It is also absent of many of the compounds found in nut-based products, including phytoestrogens: plant-based estrogen found in soybeans, phytic acid: inhibits absorption of dietary minerals calcium/iron/zinc found in oats (although the phytate content can be reduced by soaking the oats overnight, how many producers of oat-based products do this?) and almonds/hazelnuts/peanuts/tiger nuts/walnuts/cashews, lectins: carbohydrate-binding proteins found in legumes including peas and soybeans.

From a purely nutritional standpoint, these alternative "mylks" (hat tip to the EU for preventing a corruption of the meaning of the word "milk") seem to be strictly inferior: lower in the good stuff, higher in the bad stuff.

> Otherwise, I might as well drink soda,--from looking at the sugar content of most of these "milks" it's roughly as healthy.

This reminds me of the push to replace soda with fruit juice, but then it turned out they both often have a comparable sugar content: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/06/09/319230765/fr...

History repeats, and yet again we see a similar push. Personally I am sticking with good old-fashioned milk myself, the bar to replace a 10,000 year old (estimated 9000-7000 BCE) food is quite high.

Overnight oats are quite a popular product...

Yes traditionally oatmeal is soaked overnight, but how many of these producers of oat "milk" products will take the time to perform this extra step?

I first found out about soaked oats from _Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods_ by Sandor Ellix Katz, but interestingly it is an older practice, we now know improves digestability (excerpt from page 118):

> Oatmeal (or "oytmeal", as my father always calls it, in imitation of his immigrant grandmother) is the quintessential comfort food. It is soft and mushy, harkening back to that long ago time of infancy, when all our food was of such a consistency and lovingly spoon-fed to us. In early modern Europe, according to an article by Elizabeth Meyer-Renschhausen in the anthropology journal _Food and Foodways_, porridges were generally fermented and eaten as a "sour soup"[10]. Fermenting oats before cooking them not only makes them more nutritious and digestible, it makes the resulting oatmeal much creamer as well. For the freshest, most nutritious oatmlea, coarsely grind whole oats yourself when you are ready to use them, though steel-cut oats or rolled oats will work fine, too.

[10] _Food and Foodways_: "New Chapter Health Report", Elizabeth Meyer-Renschhausen, 2000

It's not marketed that way, but Soylent seems kind of similar in the bland-but-supposedly-healthy drink niche?

The difference is Soylent is a complete meal, not just a milk replacement. Soylent is more like Slim Fast or other meal replacement drinks.

Soylent isn't really aimed at health, more convenience & novelty. Its not unhealthy either, but you get my point

I’d suggest it is unhealthy. We don’t even know what all is in the food we eat, so to pretend we can combine a bunch of synthetic stuff into some well rounded meal for daily consumption I believe is dangerous.

1. That's not an argument that it's unhealthy. That's an argument that it's risky. "We haven't proved it's healthy" isn't the same as "it's unhealthy".

2. Some people have been on 100% Soylent diets for years now. I don't believe there's been any indication of nutrient deficiencies yet.

3. This argument seems weak because you don't know how unhealthy the diet you're replacing is. If I grab a Soylent for lunch instead of getting a burger or pad thai at the food court, which is healthier? Are the high levels of cadmium in spinach unhealthy? How many naturally occurring carcinogens in natural foods are still undiscovered? Any diet has risk. You need to show why Soylent is worse than what it's replacing.

Yeah, I'll let other people be the guinea pigs for a couple of decades before I do it.

Fruit juice is most likely much worse than soylent. Ditto for milk.sugar and calorie bombs. Look at the ingrediants in soylent .its fine and nothing stands out as non food

It’s meant to be your entire meal, not just a drink.

Is that really that different from the stuff we put on a plate? That too seems reasonably arbitrary as to what's in it.

Soylent is at least somewhat balanced. Everything is in a ratio that someone at least actively looked at. When I cook up a meal it certainly isn't.

The alternative to soylent is solid foods that are a combined bunch of things loaded with synthetics. Anything you cook is "synthetic".

I don’t think that accurately reflects the only alternative...

All of these products are some mush plus sugar. Soylent is expensive old people food supplement.

All of these things are just ways to extend the dominance of big agriculture, dressed up in various healthy use cases.

Using “milk” in the name of something doesn’t make an “alternative milk” in any way that doesn’t apply to any other drinkable liquid.

It’s pure marketing, where the reality would be “juice” if we’re being charitable. In a lot of cases it’s water with a hint of X, and a lot of added sugar. All told drinking a lot of anything other than water is probably a bad move, but evidence suggests that if you’re not lactose intolerant, milk is a healthier choice for what you put on cereal.

All things being equal, my major issue with alternative “milk” isn’t the semantic debate though. The fact that they’re often high in sugar, low in protein and fat is a bad sign. The fact that many (especially almond milk) are mostly water isn’t promising, and the environmental impact of chugging almond milk should become clear to California within a decade or so.

Mostly it’s just another fad (in terms of scale), promulgated by people who should know better, and others trying to sell you their “milks.”

Cow's milk is mostly water.

As for alternative milks being a fad, it's a fad that's more than a thousand years old -- for example, almond milk was important in Europe for meatless Fridays and during Lent. I'm not sure who "should know better" when it comes to religious doctrine affecting food choices.

You’re the second person to latch on to a single sentence fragment, unfortunately without the context about sugar and protein content. As far as religion goes, what percentage of current “alt-milk” consumption do you think is religiously motivated? A rounding error? A rounding error of a rounding error? Less?

If you wanted to focus on a single point I made, I’d suggest: All told drinking a lot of anything other than water is probably a bad move....

Soy milk has protein and doesn't necessarily have sugar depending on the brand, if you are looking for a response to that.

And if we want to talk water usage and environmental impact, any cattle/dairy product is consuming at least order of magnitude more resources and emissions than oats or soy beans.

Soy milk has protein and doesn't necessarily have sugar depending on the brand, if you are looking for a response to that. And if we want to talk water usage and environmental impact, any cattle/dairy product is consuming at least order of magnitude more resources and emissions than oats or soy beans.

Oat milk isn’t even a rounding error of total plant “milk” consumption.


Almond dominates by an order of magnitude, and has grown a loooot just since 2013, while soy milk consumption has actually dropped. Worse, it is projected that consumption of almond milk will more than double, while all other types are effectively flat.

When we talk about this subject, it’s important to realize that to the first order, we’re just talking about almond milk, a trend which continue into the future.

And? I'm not sure what your point is. I was pointing out there are non-dairy milks with protein in them.

Almond milk still uses less water and way less CO2e emissions than dairy to produce the same volume of milk.

Animal agriculture is horrendous for the planet, any increase in non-dairy milk at the expense of dairy milk is a definite win for the environment.


From the BBC calculator, which comes from University of Oxford researcher Joseph Poore, and Thomas Nemecek of the Agroecology and Environment Research Division in Zurich, Switzerland

1 glass (200ml) per serving almond milk daily

Over an entire year your consumption of almond milk is contributing 51kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions. ... 27,042 litres of water

1 glass (200ml) per serving dairy milk daily

Over an entire year your consumption of dairy milk is contributing 229kg to your annual greenhouse gas emissions ... 45,733 litres of water 652m² land

I can’t tell from that calculation, but it seems they’re comparing X of almonds, to a whole dairy cow. That’s... weird. It’s also odd that they compare by volume, and not by calorie. All I’m all I’m left wanting to see the data behind the calculator so fair comparisons can be made. Either way given that my advice was, and remains “drink water” and not “drink milk” I’m also not sure what your point is.

Especially when looking at the graph on the page you linked to, it becomes clear that the CO2 emission question is spurious. Dairy is fairly efficient, but actually killing and eating the animal isn’t. Fortunately beef cattle are not dairy cattle, and while the industries are linked, they are not inextricably linked. Most of all though, I’ll say it again, All told drinking a lot of anything other than water is probably a bad move... To that I’d add that if your real concern is environmental, milk is the least of it, cheese being a far bigger offender. Cheese being effectively condensed milk means that your kilogram of cheese took 10kg of milk to make.

Isn’t every liquid mostly water? Even coke is 99% water?

If you're concerned about agricultural use of water in California, I would suggest a bigger concern is alfalfa, a low-value, water-intensive crop, most of which gets shipped to China. We are almost literally selling water to China. Almonds, at least, are a high-value crop, meaning that if we found a way to circumvent or invalidate the 19th-century water rights and raise the price of water to farmers, almond growers could pay the higher rates but crops like alfalfa would probably be rendered uneconomic.

Do you have a source for California alfalfa mostly being sent to China? Most places on the Internet say that it's mostly used to feed California dairy cows. And that alfalfa cultivation is changing to higher value crops over time, as farmers take advantage of the value of their water rights.

High value, low value, the Western U.S. can’t support either. The profitability of the situation isn’t really a factor, it’s the consumption. I’d also argue that people have far more control over what they buy for ‘milk’ than they do over exports to China. Having said that, it’s very much a problem solving itself, with eventual depopulation.

I prefer this alternative naming by The Onion: https://www.theonion.com/fda-defends-decision-to-reclassify-...

Astute as ever, America's finest news source turns this marketing-driven terminology on its head.

This has happened before, industries creating imitation products deceptively similar to the real thing. For example in the early 1900s, states fought back against fake butter, but were ultimately overruled by the Supreme Court: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/people-and-culture/food/t...

> Margarine manufacturers, to better appeal to the public, wanted to tint their product yellow; butter producers objected, claiming that yellow margarine, fraudulently masquerading as butter, was a deliberate ploy to deceive the public. (Butter from corn-fed cows is also anemically pale, and is routinely dyed to turn it an attractive butter-yellow; this practice, however, butter makers argued, was simply a cosmetic tweak.)

> By 1902, 32 states had imposed color constraints on margarine. Vermont, New Hampshire, and South Dakota all passed laws demanding that margarine be dyed an off-putting pink; other states proposed it be colored red, brown, or black. The “pink laws” were overturned by the Supreme Court (on the grounds that it’s illegal to enforce the adulteration of food) but the ban on yellow margarine remained. (The last hold-out, Wisconsin, only repealed its margarine-color law in 1967.)

That was a really good read, and of course it would be Wisconsin who fought to the end for dairy. Personally I’m not interested in regulating “milk” and the term has been around for a while. I just think it’s worth pointing out the differences, but dying it a strange color is... too far.

I don’t have any issue with these things as beverages, but cringe when I read mothers of babies old enough to switch off of human milk (or formula) ask “what kind of milk” they should be giving their child. As if almond milk is a “kind of milk” in any meaningful sense.

In my experience they are not that high in sugar. Oatly doesn't add sugar and has about 2g/100ml or 3g/100ml. I looked up a cheap brand with more sugar than almond(2%) and they also had a very similar sugar level of under 3g/100ml. Every one has an unsweetened version on the same shelf as well. This is less than that of milk(without getting into the different kinds of sugar).

In comparison, soda is 11g/100ml, juice is 9g/100ml, iced tea is 8g/100ml.

Perhaps it is different in the US.

I am amazed though, when I see people buying "skinny oat(or whatever) milk". Pretty sure you can achieve the same at home by mixing regular oat milk and some filtered/softened water.

Oatly Skinny and Oatly Whole differ in the amount of fat, but have the same carbs, fiber, and protein content.

So, it appears to be quite similar to skim milk, which is milk with reduced fat (cream skimmed off), not watered down milk.

What amazes me is the strong opinions people have about this topic.

Well, it can't be called juice since almond milk contains no juice. It could be called an almond drink or beverage. The fact is, that both animal milk and almond milk are fat water emulsions with various additives to serve their purpose.

It’s definitely juice.

n. A fluid naturally contained in plant or animal tissue: fruit juice; meat braised in its own juices.

n. A bodily secretion: digestive juices.

n. The liquid contained in something that is chiefly solid.

They’re macerated and crushed, their contents mixed with water. Of course by the same token milk is also a subset of juice, of the type “mucosal excretion.”

> low in protein and fat is a bad sign.

By that standard, human breast milk should be considered unhealthy (0.8%-0.9% protein, 3%-5% fat).

3-5% fat is actually considered high-fat, for comparison, cow's whole milk is typically 3.25%, low-fat is 1% and skim/non-fat is 0-0.5%.

Interestingly, the fat content of milk can vary drastically between species, from Holstein cows 3.6% (popular for high volume milk production, but less fatty), Brown Swiss cows 4.0%, Jersey cows 5.2% (prized for their rich creamy milks), Zebu cows 4.7%, goat 4.0%, up to buffalo 6.9%, yak 6.5%, sheep 7.5%, reindeer 17%, and even fin whale a whopping 42% fat and a similarly staggering 12% protein. (Source: _On Food and Cooking_ by Harold McGee, page 13).

I’m loving your posts, and here’s a fun fact to add, fat content can vary between pregnancies, and there seems to be a difference based on the sex of the fetus, time of day or night, and a bunch of other factors.


Human milk composition is dynamic, and varies between mothers in the same and different populations. Breast milk content was also found to vary diurnally, over a feeding and in some species according to the gender of the breast feeding infant. This study aimed to determine if there are any quantitative differences in the biochemical constituents of breast milk according to the gender of the breast feeding infant. Forty eight breast feeding mothers participated in the study, 24 were breast feeding male infants and 24 were breast feeding female infants. Five ml of breast milk was collected from each mother then analyzed for lipid contents, carbohydrates, proteins and calcium. Carbohydrates, amino acids and calcium concentration were measured using colorimetric test of absorbance. There were significant differences in the concentration of lipids and calcium in breast milk of male and female breast feeding mothers (P-value<0.001 and 0.02, respectively). Our study indicates that breast milk is more dynamic than previously thought and concentration of breast milk contents should not be taken as fixed. This can lead to developing personalized formula feeding specific to the baby’s gender and age and matches his/her growth needs.

Biology is damned complex.

Well. Regular milk is also mostly water.

"Soy milk" as a term in the english language dates back to the late 1890s. It's a term that has been in common use for a very long period.

It means that it can be used in contexts where milk would usually be used. Like in a pancake or over cereal.

I personally wish the same stringent law of domain d'origine was applied here. We can't call Australian sparkling wine made on Pinot noir grapes champagne. If it didn't come out of a cow, sheep, goat, or in the case of "red dwarf" dog teat, I don't think it should be called milk or even mylk.

Partner of a nut anaphylaxis sufferer, parent of a formerly cow milk intolerant child so I've straddled both sides of what people need in their life. The answer imnsho is clarity: call it what it is specifically. (Which most people here do. Nut milk. Oat milk. Soy milk) but please, don't call it milk, unqualified.

So, even though "milk" has been used for centuries for almond milk, rice milk, etc, it should suddenly be outlawed?

I've got some medieval cookbooks digitized on my webpages, what punishment do you propose for people like me?

I think we should milk this for all its worth.

Right. If it comes from a cow or a goat, call it cow's milk, or goat's milk, not ambiguous "milk"

Fair call.

Also known as "the rise of non-milks, usually colored artificially white to lure people to believe they're like the real thing".

I've made cashew milk and oat milk at home and they're naturally colored as they are on store shelves. Also, you can look at the ingredients list to verify that they are not colored. I don't recall the last time I saw or purchased one that was artificially colored.

EDIT: Removed the first sentence as recommended.

Not to pile on, but do please edit the nasty bits out of your comments here. This one would be just fine without the first sentence.


Thank you. I respect why this rule exists and understand how my comment would contribute to a less productive discussion. I have edited it out.

Appreciated! I've turned off flags on your comment.

>Please don't lie

Please don't accuse people you don't know and second guess their motives in a conversation with them.

>I've made cashew milk and oat milk at home and they're naturally colored as they are on store shelves

Which is neither here nor there. I didn't say all are colored white: I used the term "usually". Second, even naturally white "alternative milks" have artificial coloring added for when they hit the shelves for consistency etc (manufacturers that don't do that are glad to advertise it in the box).

Second, both are not milks. Milks are what comes out of animals mammary glands (even legally in most jurisdictions). Advertisers and "health product" peddlers hijacked the term (that existed for millennia) to mean "random juices".

Funny enough, nobody complains about "peanut butter"!

"In English, the word "milk" (at the time spelt "mylk") has been used to refer to "milk-like plant juices" since at least 1200 AD." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_milk https://www.etymonline.com/word/milk#etymonline_v_16158

Second, both are not milks

Please don’t be this sort of pedant. It’s been common for a long time to refer to various substances with a similar appearance to milk as “milks” - see coconut, Magnesia etc.

More to the point, “mylke of almaundes” as a term was around in the 15th century, so at this point it’s hardly unreasonable that it’s entered common usage.

> Please don't accuse people you don't know and second guess their motives in a conversation with them.

As I commented below, a moment before your reply, I edited it out as I understand that it is unproductive.

> I didn't say all are colored white: I used the term "usually". Second, even naturally white "alternative milks" have artificial coloring added for when they hit the shelves for consistency etc (manufacturers that don't do that are glad to advertise it in the box).

See my other comment, reproduced below:

"I've shopped extensively for plant-based milks on three continents in countries that represent nearly half of the world's population. I can provably claim that they are not "usually" colored artificially in even a generous use of "usual." This has nothing to do with knowing the person who wrote the comment."

> Second, both are not milks. Milks are what comes out of animals mammary glands

Sure, but this is your opinion which you're welcome to hold.

> (even legally in most jurisdictions)

Source needed for "most". I can confirm that plant milks can be labeled as milk in the US, Canada, and India, and the notable exception that I am aware of is the European Union.

Second, both are not milks. Milks are what comes out of animals mammary glands (even legally in most jurisdictions). Advertisers and "health product" peddlers hijacked the term (that existed for millennia) to mean "random juices".

The word milk has a somewhat broader meaning than what comes out of mammary glands. I would say that the default meaning, with no other modifier, is definitely mammary gland output. But checking various dictionaries I see definitions that include:

The white juice of certain plants, such as coconut milk.

A food product produced from seeds or fruit that resembles and is used similarly to cow's milk, such as coconut or soy milk.

A liquid resembling milk in appearance such as the latex of a plant.

And there's milk of magnesia.

I don't know when these various terms came into use, but the Online Etymology Dictionary suggests milk of almond and similar constructions have been around since the late 14th century:


> Second, even naturally white "alternative milks" have artificial coloring added

Could you give some examples of this? I'm not that familiar with the different brands, but I've tried quite a few, and at least in the US I don't think that any of them I've tried add artificial coloring, and I don't think I've noticed packaging touting this as an advantage. Maybe this is a regional difference?

Here's an example of what I think the ingredients usually look like: https://silk.com/products/original-soymilk (click on ingredients)

And here's a breakdown of the standard ingredients in almond milk that doesn't mention artificial coloring: https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/a-breakdown-of-every-s...

Please don't tell people they're lying on HN when you have no idea whether that's true. (Apologies if you know the person you responded to well enough to know they're lying - I'm assuming you don't.)

edit: Ah, I should have quoted, lesson learned. The comment began "Please don't lie", which has been removed, and people are downvoting me and responding as if I'd read the edited comment, so mine appears nonsensical.

> usually colored artificially

I've shopped extensively for plant-based milks on three continents in countries that represent nearly half of the world's population. I can provably claim that they are not "usually" colored artificially in even a generous use of "usual." This has nothing to do with knowing the person who wrote the comment.

They can be wrong though since no evidence was presented for the “usually coloured” claim. To prove no plant milk uses colouring is neigh impossible but you could easily show a couple of example if it is that common to have colouring in them.

> ...when you have no idea whether that's true

If you're familiar with soy milk and almond milk, it's a pretty dubious claim. The most well known brand in the US is Silk, which contains no such whitening ingredients that I have seen (see https://silk.com/products for ingredient information) nor have I encountered any other brands that contain whitening ingredients.

I think it's justifiable to say that claim is a falsehood.

> ...when you have no idea whether that's true

I was referring to whether it's true that it's a lie or not, not whether the claim is true or not. I seem to have not made that clear enough, sorry for that.

If someone says something false but they believe it's true, that's not lying. On the other hand, if someone says something true but they believe it's false, that is lying. Whether what they're saying is actually true or false is irrelevant to whether they're lying. Lying is saying something different to what you believe, with intent to deceive.[0] It's about a difference between what you say and what you believe. I think getting things wrong is a lot more common than lying on this planet, and labelling every getting-wrong of things a 'lie' should be considered harmful. Getting things wrong is natural, unavoidable, 'innocent' - lying is not.

[0] Or something like that - trying to make precise definitions is hard and not so useful.

All of Silk's milks contain calcium carbonate, which serves the dual purpose of whitening the milk and calcium fortification.


I'm reasonably sure that it's there at levels sufficient only for the calcium fortification. Calcium carbonate was only approved for use as a food colorant by the FDA in late 2017 (e.g. https://sensientfoodcolors.com/en-us/regulatory/fda-approves...), many, many years after Silk was launched. Note that calcium carbonate is listed in the ingredients under the mineral and vitamin supplementation group.

If it takes more to use it as a whitener, those calcium carbonate candies will cause hypercalcemia. The truth is that what's there is already enough to whiten the milk, and the article mentions this as well. ("Many plant milk brands add calcium carbonate – chalk – to make the liquid whiter and more opaque....") The only difference after 2017 is that now it can be used purely for whitening, which you would need less of it for.

My wife makes almond milk from store bought almond paste and water, and the resulting milk is almost pure white. I‘m also quite confident that rice milk from white rice will be white either. „Usually“ is a fuzzy term but I don’t think it’s warranted in the context of artificial colors in alt milks.

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