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Dairy Alternatives: The Best Vegan Milk for the Planet

When it comes to dairy alternatives, I’ve got to admit I struggle.

When I was younger and new to the horrors of the world, I took a pretty strong stance against anything animal-related. I only ate vegan, I didn’t wear leather, etc. etc.

I got lazy, though. And in New Zealand, we have incredible cheese. Having kids put a spanner in the works as well – when you've got kids to look after, you'll eat just about anything that appears in the fridge.

This doesn't mean that I don't still care about the planet. A lot. When it comes to meat and eggs, I only eat free range – I'm entirely against factory farming. Of course, I recycle and knit my own washcloths. I want my carbon footprint to be as small as possible.

This is easier said than done, though. Our impact on the environment goes so much deeper than any of us could imagine. When I first got off dairy, I drank soy milk instead. It was perfect – I love the taste (especially with coffee), and it had me thinking I'd found the mecca of dairy alternatives.

dairy alternatives

Then I learned about the estrogen debacle, so I started to steer away from drinking so much soy. I moved onto almond milk, then oat milk, then rice milk. These days? I’m going to be hung out to dry for saying this, but I’m back to dairy milk.

However, I'm wanting to change that, which is why I'm writing this post. This time, though, I want to have the planet in mind in more ways than one. Not supporting the dairy industry definitely helps the earth, but is the dairy alternative you're drinking instead just as bad for it?

I wanted to do my research and go into my dairy alternative knowing that not only was it not supporting the dairy industry, but its impact on the planet was minimum, too.

Trust me, I was just as surprised as you are to learn that dairy alternatives like almond and rice milk could be having a negative impact on the planet. But I guess that's what happens when you take anything too far and drain a considerable amount of finite resource to do so.

You'll be pleased to know, then, that dairy milk still has the most significant impact on the planet. Coming in second, however, is rice milk. When it comes to emissions and water, producing rice milk takes roughly half the energy as dairy milk.

Soy milk comes in third, with taking up slightly fewer emissions, but next to no water compared to rice milk, which is great. Oat milk has some of the lowest ratings when it comes to impact with emissions, land, and water.

dairy alternatives

Almond milk is also up there with rice milk, taking up less in emissions but quite a bit more when it comes to land. I've heard of this, actually – large almond farms in California overtaking a lot of ground that could otherwise be used for more meaningful purposes.

So, with that information on board, I think it's safe to say that the best dairy alternative to choose is oat milk. It seems to have the least amount of impact when it comes to emissions, land, and water.

Currently, there are 540,000 vegans in the UK – and I wish I could say I was one of them. That’s an impressive number of people standing up and saying no to a big carbon footprint. There’s no end to the excuses I have, which is why the new year is a great time for me to try switching out dairy milk for something more environmentally friendly, like oat milk.

Don’t beat yourself up, though – it’s easy to get judgmental when it comes to being vegan. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking the slow approach. At the end of the day, any amount of change in your life is going to be so much better than none at all. Be gentler on yourself and know that even if you’re at the stage of buying free range like me, you’re still making a difference.

When it comes to using oat milk as my dairy alternative, there’s one in particular that I swear by. It’s called Elmhurst Milked Oats, and it contains only five ingredients – no emulsifiers or gums. It's naturally dairy-free and vegan to boot.

Subscribe for more dairy alternatives! What change do you want to make to reduce your carbon footprint? Let me know!

dairy alternatives

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