4 Awesome Sustainable Milk Alternatives, According To Harvard Eggheads

Here at Whole People HQ we're divided – half of us don't drink caffeine. The rest of us can't operate without our morning cup of joe.

You can bet our pantry only has sustainable, fair-trade coffee beans. We even use a hand grinder.

But what about all that milk and cream the team is adding to their daily coffee?

Turns out the milk you put into your coffee accounts for between 60% and 90% of all the carbon emissions in a single cup. Bowl of vegan cereal with cow's milk for breakfast? Not the most sustainable option.

So went in search of sustainable milk alternatives. Here's our findings.


Our Top Pick: Oat Milk

Why do we like oat milk as a sustainable milk alternative?

Well, first and foremost – it’s the taste. 

Oat milk tastes pretty much like real milk and that’s a big deal to us. 

It may not be for everyone, mind you, but it is for us.

oat milk

It requires about 1/8th of the water to produce when compared to almond milk.

It uses much less land to grow on than it does to farm cattle.

It’s also grown in places that are not vulnerable to deforestation

That means not only does it taste good, it’s great for the planet. 


Hemp Milk: Marijuana Milk?

Sadly, for those who enjoy a herbal buzz, hemp contains very little THC and thus, won’t get you high. 

However, it makes an excellent milk and that milk requires little water to grow and better still, as it grows, hemp consumes about four times the amount of carbon dioxide as an equivalent number of trees!

It is also one of the best plant proteins out there!


Pea Milk: A Protein Packed Choice

Pea milk is actually fairly similar to dairy, not quite as close as oat milk but not bad at all.

It also contains an incredible amount of protein for a plant-based milk alternative which means that it’s nearly as nutritious as cow’s milk.

pea milk

Peas are also super easy to grow and while they require more water than hemp or oats, they still require less than 1/6th the amount of water that almond milk needs. 

One other environmental benefit of growing peas is that they form an excellent part of any crop rotation and the pea plant is an amazing nitrogen fixer for soil. 


Soy Milk: Safer Than You Think

Soy uses less water than cows and it contains a fair amount of protein.

So, why is it last on our list considering that it’s been used as a milk substitute, commonly, for years?

Well, there are health concerns regarding the estrogen-like chemicals in soy.

However, we’re happy to report that the eggheads at Harvard say that soy is completely safe to eat at least a few times a week and may well provide the person doing the eating with health benefits!


Why Not Almond Milk?

It’s just not great for the environment. 

You have to use a lot of water to produce a liter of this popular alternative milk.

almond milk

And typically, almond production is not organic which means fungicide and pesticide use.

This kind of agriculture is killing the planet’s bees


Final Thoughts On Sustainable Milk Alternatives

Well, we’ll never have another cup of fairtrade coffee without adding one of these sustainable milk alternatives (unless we’re drinking it black) and we hope that you won’t either.

Milk is so unkind to the planet and there are such awesome alternatives that it seems churlish not to make the switch. 

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