Plant-based

Which plant-based milk is best for the environment?

Soy? Almond? Oat? All have environmental impacts, but some more than others.

With so many plant-based milk alternatives on the market, it's hard to choose which one is healthiest, or best for the environment.

A wealth of research suggests milk alternatives tend to be better for the environment in terms of land use, water use, and carbon dioxide emissions.

But some are better than others for the environment than others.

Here’s the rundown.

Almond Milk

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Almonds require a lot of water and largely depend on freshwater. That could become an issue in places like California, which experience prolonged droughts.

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Almonds also require bees for pollination, and bees don’t usually fare well in industrialized agriculture where pesticides and low plant biodiversity are the norm.

Hazelnut Milk

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Hazelnuts are grown in areas with higher rainfall, so the demands on our water supply isn't as high as that created by almond milk. Hazelnuts also don’t need bees for pollination — the wind carries their pollen around.

Soy Milk

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Although soy doesn’t stretch water supplies too thin, it does require clearcutting native plant life to cultivate.

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Because soy is also used to feed livestock, an overall reduction in the consumption of meat could reduce soy’s environmental footprint.

Oat Milk

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Oat milk uses less water and land than soy and almond, but like soy, oats are also used to feed livestock.

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Oats are also grown as a large-scale monoculture, which decreases biodiversity and can harm soil fertility.

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But the bottom line still stands: plant-based milks are better for the environment than dairy milk overall.

Read a deeper dive here.

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