Plant-Based Milks

Today I am going to give a rundown of four plant-based milks. I will go over which ones are the healthiest, which ones taste the best, and which ones are the best for the environment. I will be going over oat milk, almond milk, rice milk, and soy milk. There are plenty of other plant milks, but those are the main four, so they are the easiest to find at a typical grocery store.

Which plant-based milk is the healthiest? Well… it depends. While one type of milk can be a little healthier than another, it depends on the brand of milk you buy. Some companies will add a lot of sugar, and others won’t. Some will add some fattening product, and others won’t. All of the milks are made of plants, so they are fairly healthy, but check the labels before you buy them.

Out of the four types of milk I mentioned earlier, I think almond milk and oat milk taste the best. I love having almond milk in things like cereal and granola because it adds that fantastic almond flavor. I think oat milk is the best to drink by itself. All four types of milk are great in smoothies, but different types of milk will shine in different smoothies. For example, I love using soy milk in peanut butter and banana smoothies. Almond milk and oat milk would also work great, but there is something I love about the soy milk in that smoothie.

Each milk has its environmental benefits and downsides. Almond trees need a lot of water to consistently produce high yields. Almond trees can survive on as little as 7.6 inches of water per year, but in order to produce maximum yields in places with similar climates to California, where most almonds are grown, they need 54-58 inches of water per year. To make one liter of milk, almond milk needs a whopping 371 liters of water, while rice milk needs 270 liters of water, oat milk needs 48 liters of water, and soy milk needs only 28 liters of water. Out of all four types of milk, almond milk uses the most water.

To see what milk is the best for the planet, we can’t just look at the water usage. Out of the four types of milk, rice milk has the highest carbon footprint. When rice patties are flooded to suppress weeds and encourage growth, the watery habitat allows bacteria to multiple. These bacteria flatulate methane, one of the worst greenhouse gasses, and increase the carbon footprint of rice milk. Rice milk is also the most polluting plant milk because the standing water is drained into waterways, causing fertilizer runoff and water contamination problems.

Soy milk, while it uses less water than other types of milk, has some horrible downsides. It requires a lot of land and is a major driver of deforestation. Because of this, it also has a huge carbon footprint. Oat milk is one of the best plant-based milks because it not only requires less water and has a smaller carbon footprint than other cow milk alternatives, but it can be used as a cover crop, which would reduce herbicide use and freshen the soil.

In the end, it is up to you what milk you buy. All of these are better for you and the planet than cows’ milk, so any one of these will do. In the end, it is your choice whether to prioritize your health, the environment, or taste. Considering everything, I think oat milk is the best, but at any given time, I usually have both oat and almond milk in my fridge.

Learn more:

Our Changing Climate:


ABC Science:

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