How To Choose Dairy-Free Plant-Based Alternatives

MILK spelled out cleverly with various plant-based seeds

Plant-based dairy alternatives

There are a variety of plant-based dairy alternatives that provide authentic flavors and richness without the use of dairy. Whether you have chosen to go dairy-free for ethical reasons or health reasons, there are many alternatives that give us the satisfying flavors richness of texture that we love.

There is a newer debate over the negative effects that come from the production of non-dairy milks. People are buying more and more alternatives to dairy, such as almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, and other plant milks. Although plant milk production does present its challenges to the environment, most experts agree that plant milk production is far better for the environment than dairy milk production.

Is ditching dairy better for the environment?

Almond trees on almond farm

According to Healthline, “Research shows that plant milks have a significantly smaller environmental footprint than dairy milk. However, they’re not completely without impact. Until more research is available, choosing the most eco-friendly option may depend primarily on which factors are most important to you. Different plant milks have different effects on water and land usage, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.” What we do know is that dairy milk production is taking place all over the globe, and dairy farms are a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, worldwide. In addition, Poor handling of manure and fertilizers can degrade local water resources.

We like to think that going non-dairy is better for cows, anyway.

Soy farm

Soy Milk

Soy is a legume that comes from China. The bean contains isoflavones which are converted by the body into phytoestrogens. These molecules are similar to the hormone estrogen. Sometimes this can mimic the effects of estrogen, but it can also block the effects of estrogen. So it’s pretty complicated. Do your research on the health effects of soy before deciding to add this alternative to your diet. Soy is a very popular food additive, so consider the amount of soy you may already be consuming without even realizing it.

Environmentally, the greenhouse gas emissions from soy milk production are far less than dairy and on par with almond milk. Soy milk production uses far less water than almond milk.

Almond Milk

Almond Milk has one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than dairy milk, but almond milk is known for its high water usage.

Hemp Milk

According to researchers Dora Marinova and Diana Bogueva at Curlin University, hemp requires more water than soy, but less than almond and dairy. 

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is estimated to have about half the greenhouse emissions of soy and almond milk. The trees require very little water to produce, and they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps reduce our carbon footprint. The amount of oxygen they contribute, along with their absorption of carbon, may actually even out or negate the amount of carbon produced in coconut milk production, making it a truly sustainable food source. According to Healthline, “Environmentally, coconut milk is a pretty good choice — coconut farming has a fairly low impact on the land, and water use is relatively low.”

Coconut trees on a plantation


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: