Which Plant Milk Is Best for the Planet?

Which Plant Milk Is Best for the Planet?

When it comes to which plant-based milk is “best” for the planet, there are a lot of factors to consider: environmental impact, climate change mitigation strategies and goals, greenhouse gas emissions (or GHGs), land use and availability, wastewater treatment, and processing costs.

The life cycle assessment (LCA) method is generally used to determine how environmentally friendly — or not — products and services are. We also can’t forget non-environmental issues like nutrition and affordability. What follows is a summary of how different plant kinds of milk stack up according to several key categories and some overall conclusions based on our findings.

NUTRITION:

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:

Most plant milk comes in shelf-stable cartons and should be kept refrigerated once opened. The exception is pea milk, which should be kept unopened in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or frozen for three months. Below we provide a snapshot of general nutritional information available online as of September 2018.

CLIMATE IMPACT:

Plant milk’s environmental impact (or carbon footprint) varies widely mainly because of the primary ingredients, such as soy versus peas. A carton of soy milk can range from 30 grams (g) to 100 g; the average carton contains around 70g, according to Ingredion, a food processing company that produces a variety of sweeteners and other ingredients used in foods and beverages. Pea milk, by comparison, is made from peas grown in the ground and thus contains far less GHGs than soy.

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Land use also is tied to climate impact as it can affect how much greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a product generates: “The production of plant-based foods like hemp and almond milk results in significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions — up to 86% — compared with dairy milk,” according to the Climate Change Collaborative. Long story short: Soy products emit more GHGs than pea milk.

WASTE:

Indeed compostable containers are another critical factor when considering the environmental impacts of plant milk; many brands make this claim but may not always keep their word. Compostable cartons must be made of plant-based materials such as sugarcane or corn and contain no plastic if they’re to break down on time truly.

Brands that use only plant-based cartons may also be less likely to produce more packaging than necessary to accommodate customers’ requests. The latter is a common complaint about soymilk cartons among environmental groups.

BOTTOM LINE: 

The environmental impacts of plant kinds of milk range widely and depend on numerous factors for any given product — including primary ingredients and their effect on climate change, general processing methods, and packaging.

Soy products emit more GHG emissions than pea milk; pea milk is generally compostable, and most soy products are not (though some companies produce compostable cartons). If you’re looking to lighten your footprint on this planet, pea milk likely is the best plant milk option for the environment.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT:

Soy milk typically contains more protein than most other non-dairy milk. It also has many omega-3 fatty acids in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA).

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Pea milk is lower in protein but has higher esophageal amino acids, including arginine, histidine, leucine, lysine, methionine, and cysteine. Hemp milk typically has an equal amount of protein to soy milk.

Ounce for ounce, soymilk contains fewer carbohydrates than many non-dairy kinds of milk, though this may vary by brand. Soy products are usually lower in fat than dairy milk but higher in fat than most plant milk.

While soy and hemp contain no cholesterol, most pea milk does (about 30 mg per cup). Peas also tend to be high in iron compared with most plants; depending on the pea milk brand you buy, it can have anywhere from 8% to 25% of your daily value (DV) of iron.

VITAMINS AND MINERALS:

All three plant milk are good sources of essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium — though most brands of pea milk also contain added sea salt.

Soy milk typically provides a bit more vitamin A than other non-dairy milk. Brands of soymilk may give anywhere from 10% to 50% of your daily value for vitamin D per cup, depending on specific processing methods used to fortify them. Many brands of pea milk also contain added calcium and vitamin D. In addition; soybeans naturally provide a significant amount of iron in their raw state—about 1 mg per cup.

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The overall healthfulness of these plant milk varies from brand to brand, depending on what they’re made from and how they’re fortified.

This is because processing methods can significantly affect the nutrient content in various products — including protein, fat, carbohydrate, and sugar levels as well as vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as phytonutrients which may have anti-inflammatory benefits, Potassium in soy milk is an important example: Bulk soybeans naturally pack about 975mg of Potassium into one cup, but when fortified into soymilk it can contain anywhere from 350mg to 1,000mg per cup — an amount that could vary depending on processing methods.

Best milk alternative:

raw milk

best raw milk alternative:-a2/a1 casein ratio balanced raw milk

best raw milk substitute:-water buffalo, goat, sheep, cow, depending on your region

Pasteurization degrades most nutrients in the milk. Raw milk is naturally homogenized and contains healthy bacteria which boost immune function & heal digestive issues. Pasteurized cows fed grains produce most commercial dairy and antibiotics to stop infections caused by grain diet, thus creating more endotoxins (which cause inflammation) than when they are grass-fed.

Subsequently, pasteurized dairy makes one more likely to develop asthma or allergies down the road. Milking an ill animal produces unhealthy pus-filled milk increasing chances of arthritis later in life. Pasteurized milk is not natural milk. Do your research and decide what you want in your body.

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