Dairy milk was once the only option for cereal. In the past decade, plant-based milk such as coconut, oat, walnut, and hemp has risen. The global plant-based milk business is valued at $16 billion.Plant-based milk is sold in two ways. First, they’re healthier than conventional dairy milk, and second, they’re ecologically beneficial. The first assertion is valid and confirmed by nutritionists; the second claim needs additional investigation.
Over 30 plant milk is currently available. Discussing the environmental implications of each variety would take hours, so we’ll stick to almond, soy, oat, and rice milk.
First almond milk
What’s wrong with almond milk? One gallon of almond milk requires two pounds of raw almonds. One kilogram of raw almonds yields 4 liters of almond milk. Wait till you hear how much water it takes to cultivate 1 kg of almonds.
California grows most of the world’s almonds; Spain and Italy contribute small amounts. A single almond needs 1.1 gallons (4.2 liters) of water to thrive, while a pound has 460. 1.1 460 = 506 gallons/pound of almonds are required to cultivate them (For 1 kilo of almonds, the water needed would be 4,294 liters).
An average person consumes 0.5 gallons (2 liters) of water daily. Summarizing… Almond milk requires 1,012 liters of water, enough to quench the thirst of 2,000 people.
California’s water situation makes the figures much worse. It’s a populous agricultural state. California produces 80% of the world’s almonds. In recent years, it’s been drought-stricken. 2011-2014 were among the driest years ever, forcing water restrictions.
Droughts and the amount of water needed to cultivate almonds make almond milk unsustainable.
Water-guzzler rice milk
Rice milk and almond milk demand a lot of water. Rice milk emits fewer greenhouse emissions per liter than almond milk.Rice requires flooded paddy fields. This leads to fertilizer/pesticide runoff and anaerobic bacteria. Fermenting bacteria and methanogenic archaea are examples. Their metabolism produces methane. Some methanogens transform ambient carbon dioxide into methane to create ATP.
After carbon dioxide, methane is the second-worst greenhouse gas. Rice farming also releases nitrous oxide (commonly known as laughing gas). Rice milk emits 0.23 kg of greenhouse emissions per 200g, second only to dairy milk.
The number of greenhouse gases released per glass of rice milk, the amount of water needed, and the danger of pesticide runoff into nearby water bodies raise questions about its environmental friendliness.
Soy and oat milk
Soy and oat milk contribute to deforestation and global warming. Soy milk and almond milk are popular plant-based milk. It doesn’t use as much water as almond and rice milk, but it takes too much land. Soya bean produces soy milk. Brazil and Argentina grow most of the world’s soybeans. Brazil deforests the Amazon to grow soybeans. Argentina’s forests are similar.
Soy milk emits more greenhouse gas per glass than almond milk, causing deforestation.
Oat milk manufacturing is environmentally damaging, like soy milk. Oat milk may reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using more land and water than soy milk.
Dairy milk is the most environmentally hazardous milk kind. It uses less water, land, and greenhouse gases per 200g of dairy milk than other plant-based milk. 200g of milk requires 131 l of water and 1.81 m2 of land. Dairy milk is the least ecologically friendly form of milk, emitting 0.62 kg of greenhouse gases. Which plant-based milk is greenest? All of them are superior to dairy milk. Thus it’s worthc onverting for a brighter future and Earth’s lifespan.