We tested 5 most popular milk alternatives for sustainability and impact on longer life
Here is our result!
There are several reasons to turn to sustainable milk alternatives. The first is that it has a positive effect on your body and a longer life. You can find an article about the positive effects of a gluten- and dairy-free diet in the following article
Longer young through gluten – and dairy-free diet .
Regular milk triggers or promotes inflammation in many over time. Our intestines are irritated by this, which also strongly influences digestion. Often we don’t even notice it anymore and flatulence is as much a part of everyday life as brushing our teeth, only without the positive effect.
But not only that is a good reason to use one of the many milk alternatives, but also that they have different nutrients that support processes that keep us healthy longer and promote our longevity. Besides the reasons that have a direct impact on our bodies, there is another reason that benefits not only you, but everyone.
Good for you, good for the environment
Dairy alternatives such as oats, almond or soy are more sustainable than animal milk. But each type of plant milk also has an impact on the environment – some more than others. Exactly what these effects are is being observed and studied. The studies on this are still in the early stages. One of the most significant at present is that of Oxford University. Under the direction of Joseph Poore, a database of over 10,000 farms worldwide has been created. Data from different countries were compared to estimate the environmental impact of soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, and rice milk compared to dairy products.
Their conclusion: no matter which plant-based milk you choose, animal milk is worse for the environment, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use and eutrophication than its plant-based alternative on every indicator.
Each of the sustainable milk alternatives also has an impact on the environment, but not always a bad one. When you switch from dairy products to plant-based milks, you’re actually doing the environment a favor to some extent.
The question of whether animal – or plant milk is more sustainable, more or less clarified and also that it has more life-prolonging ingredients. But what about the different types of plant milks themselves? Here we take a look at the differences and find out which alternative milk is best for you and the environment.
1. RICE MILK: WORST FOR THE ENVIRONMENT + HARDLY ANY BENEFITS
If we look at rice milk, it is similar to rice itself. Polished rice is used for rice milk, which contains hardly any nutrients. If, on the other hand, whole grain rice were used, it would perform much better. Because this contains nutrients that regulate blood sugar levels and phenols that prevent cancer. But also vitamins such as B1, B6, selenium and magnesium. Unfortunately, this is not the case and therefore rice milk has no further added value for us.
Rice milk produces the most greenhouse gases of all plant milks. For every gram of rice milk, an estimated 1.2 kilograms of CO2 are generated. That’s because farmers flood the rice fields, breeding bacteria in the soil that pumps out methane. Rice also consumes significantly more water than most grains, including more than 10 times as much as soy milk.
Flooding of rice fields also causes eutrophication (fertilizer is washed into rivers, leading to nutrient enrichment in originally nutrient-poor waters) – about four times more than any other plant milk. By comparison, rice still causes about half the eutrophication of dairy.
2. Almond Milk - Bad for water consumption, good for emissions - Perfect for your bones.
Almonds, of course, are one of the foods that help to preserve your youth and serve body longer young. Rich in vitamin E, they not only protect your skin from free radicals. A special property that almonds have, they protect your bones from degradation. It was found that after eating almonds, the number of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone) decreases by 20%, thus preventing bone loss.
Almonds consume more water than many other plants. For the production of 1 liter of almond milk, 371 liters of water are needed. This is because significant amounts of water must be used to irrigate almond trees to produce the yields needed to meet global demand for almonds. Although only a small amount of almonds are needed to make almond milk, almond trees end up requiring significant amounts of water. It requires four times more water than rice, oats and soybeans – although they still require about half as much water as dairy products.
However, almond milk was also found to require less land than oat, soy, and dairy milk, and to have the lowest impact on greenhouse gas emissions compared to rice, soy, oat, and regular milk.
3. Coconut milk - Best middle ground for nature and optimal cell protection
We know that coconut oil has many benefits. Some that are interesting for us when it comes to longevity are once they are rich in manganese, which is important for the health of your bones and the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol. They are alsorich in copper and iron, which contribute to the formation of red blood cells, and selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.
Research suggests that coconut milk production emits about half the CO2 as soy, and requires little water and energy compared to other plant-based beverages. Coconut trees also have other benefits. They are grown where there is no water scarcity, they remove carbon dioxide from the air, and in most cases no trees are cut down to plant coconut palms.
However, coconuts often have to travel a long way, but transportation usually accounts for a relatively small share of a product’s total greenhouse gas impact. The greenhouse gas benefits of trees pulling CO2 out of the air outweigh the transportation.
Many conventional coconut farmers earn less than $1 per day, so it is important to buy certified Fairtrade coconut milk.
4. Soy milk - top water use, mediocre in land use, optimal for longer life.
Soy contains more nutrients than any other plant milk: one cup contains about 6 grams of plant protein and 4 grams of healthy unsaturated fats, covering all essential amino acids as well. Even more, soy is rich in isoflavones, which are metabolized in the intestine to equol, a substance that prolongs telomere length in skin cells. Learn more about telomeres and why they are so important
Equol is also rich in antioxidants and promotes bone density. So in terms of promoting longevity, it’s playing right up front with that.
Soy milk has one of the smallest environmental footprints. It requires the least water of all plant milks and has the least impact on eutrophication. The production of soy milk produces more greenhouse gases than oats, coconuts and almonds, but less CO2 than rice. However, soy milk requires slightly more acreage than almond or rice milk, but less than oat milk and is still insignificant compared to cow’s milk.
It is important to pay attention to where your soy comes from. In countries without strict environmental regulations, soybean cultivation can contribute to deforestation and habitat destruction, which negatively impacts biodiversity.
5. Oat milk - top for the soil and top for a longer life
And last but not least, our beloved oat milk. Oats are rich in beta-glucans. They are able to eliminate, absorb and transport excess stomach acid, harmful substances or unwanted bacteria out of the body by strengthening macrophages and killer cells. Which is why oats play an important role in digestive problems, but also in detoxification, as well as helping to lose weight, as they perfectly regulate blood sugar levels. On top, it is also a very good supplier of iron and thus promotes blood formation and renewal.
In terms of environmental friendliness, it is the best choice. While oats require slightly more acreage than almonds or rice, they have a low water requirement – about one-tenth of what almonds need. Oat milk is also comparable to almond milk when it comes to low greenhouse gas emissions, producing significantly less CO2 than soy milk.
A big advantage, oats can also grow in winter. This means that it is often used as a cover crop, i.e. it is grown when the arable land would otherwise lie fallow. This has many benefits such as reducing fertilizer and pesticides, promoting soil health, and removing carbon dioxide from the air by maintaining vibrant vegetation for a greater portion of the year. So from a sustainability perspective, the absolute winner.
No matter which milk alternative you choose, in terms of sustainability, you’re always on the better side than with conventional milk. But you’re also doing your body some good, as regular milk is often pro-inflammatory and stresses the gut. And the thing with the calcium is unfortunately also a fairy tale. Milk contains a lot of calcium, but no magnesium, which is why there can be an excess of calcium, which is not good for our body.