Updated: Dec 26, 2019
It’s incredibly hard to disseminate all the information around what is good for you, food and drink wise, Do I need to be a vegan for the sake of the planet? Isn’t sustainable farming the answer to getting the soil health back to where it was 50 years ago, blah blah blah, it is so confusing because it is meant to confuse you. For example Companies come out with new findings at the same time that the health organisation tells you that dairy products are good for you, So I thought I might do a little digging to find out what milk is good for you and why, dig i did, as the information is again super confusing.
Mothers milk - is the most sustainable milk that humans should drink. but we are not going to be supping from the breast of our mothers for more than a couple of years, or are we going to put our mothers into factories to milk them to put their milk on the shelves, so the question is, if that is unacceptable, humans treating each other like they do with animals then what do we put on our cereal or drink in our coffee?
Cow’s milk - yes this milk is really just meant for calves, it is the milk the cow will feed her young. However we have been told for a very long time through diet consultants, health organisations industry that milk is the best for us for calcium, health and bone strength.. the facts are this….
Dairy milk contains phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium and protein, therefore has always been the go to for getting your needs in one glass, however the animal stock produce excessive amounts of methane into the atmosphere, so therefore their carbon footprint is very high, and thus the milk is not a very sustainable option, when it comes to the planet. The downside to having too much dairy in your diet is that you can develop cholesterol and heart disease, from the amount of saturated fats.
Soy milk - made from soybeans, water, oils and fats to emulsify and is generally fortified with calcium, on a par with dairy milk, soy pretty much gives you what you need diet wise if you were making the switch. But how sustainable is soy production? So the majority, 64% of the world's soy is produced in the US and Brazil, therefore meaning that in Australia if we are drinking soy or eating soy products the chances are that the raw ingredient has travelled a very long way to reach our lattes and our veggie burgers. So maybe, even though the methane going into the atmosphere has dropped from the backsides of our bovine friends, the carbon into the atmosphere from transporting the soy products for consumption is on a par or possibly could overtake dairy. There is also contention around the deforestation of land in Brazil to be directly connected to the production of soy, I told you it was confusing.
Almond Milk - this bad boy seems to have cropped up on the cafe scene really quickly. almond milk is made from almonds and water, some salt and corn syrup or something similar, sugar basically. almond milk tastes like a dessert but is it really sweet for you and the planet? Almond milk is a good alternative but you need to know a few things, you won’t get the same added benefits (health wise) as you get from the cows juice, however you can pick that up in other foods you eat, it is not calcium fortified therefore it can’t really be considered a milk, and it takes a lot to produce. Again most of the almond production 80% takes place in the US, California, which has been ravaged by fires, drought for the last decade and now they are monocropping farming primarily for almonds. To make 1 litre of almond milk it takes approximately 6000 litres of water, OMG!! Almond milk is off the sustainable charts!! Also if 80% of almonds worldwide are produced in California, does that also mean that our precious almond milk has tacked up significant food miles to make it to our beautiful almond mocha. This is actually freaking me out!
Coconut milk - From a health perspective coconut has great properties,rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, and literally the best thing about coconut is that you can use the entire plant, to eat, shelter and clothe yourself. On a sustainable plant ranking coconut is pretty amazing. Grown primarily in Asia, wild and also farmed, coconuts are abundant, grow quickly yield up to 80-130 coconuts per palm per year, and produce consistently up to 13 times per year. But again we are shipping the raw product to our shores. coconut milk rates pretty high on the sustainable checklist, regenerative, can consume the entire plant, but we need to think about where it comes from.
Oat Milk - the champion of the sustainable milk list. Oats have been farmed for a long time, and oat milk has been around for the past couple of decades, but has just risen as a coffee shop hero. Oat milk on scale takes less water, land use and produces less emissions than its friends dairy and soy for example. Oat milk is fortified with all the lovely health benefits like protein, fats, carbohydrates vitamin b12 and calcium. Therefore you can be doing yourself a favour by drinking a cup or two. How does it fare against the travel miles that coconut, almond and soy produce? Well if you buy certain brands you will note that they are farmed and produced in North America, and therefore again we have miles to contend with, carbon footprint. Some other products on the market are made using up to 90% australian produced oats, therefore you just need to read the labels and find your favourite.
If you are keen to learn more, please go to these links to find out a little more about the milk / juice you drink.