Going in to a supermarket these days to pick up a pint of milk can be more confusing than ever before. Since 2012, non-dairy milk sales have risen by 61% in the US, and since 2015 by 30% in the UK. These alternative milks pea, coconut, oat, cashew, almond, soya, potatoes, banana, macadamia, hemp, and flax seed are reportedly being bought by the ‘millennials’ or those under the age of 35 years under the belief that these milks are healthier for the body and planets. But are they?
In general plant-based milks are made by grinding up the plant, soaking it in water, then adding emulsifiers and stabilisers to thicken the liquid and stop it separating. Is it not better for the environment to just each the plant?? There is no doubt that non-dairy milk alternatives are better for the environment, however, their popularity may cause future environmental issues i.e. coconut milk popularity growing will cause more deforestation. Ultimately, the decision is yours based on your needs and goals: sustainability; intolerances; allergies; nutriment.
As a Nutritionist, I often get asked about whether switching from cow’s milk is a healthy option, and if so, what is the best alternative to go for. Hopefully, you can see that the decision is ultimately based on the individual and their goals.
Maybe a combination of all. Maybe a balance of each is better for our World and our health?
1* P.K. Newby, Nutrition and Sustainability Scientist, Harvard University.
2* Elin Röös, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
3* UNESCO, 2010 Report
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