When it comes to eco-friendly food or drink, all plant-based products are the top choice. This includes non-dairy milk or milk that does not come from cows or other dairy-producing animals.

Plant-based milk is considered the best choice if you want to live a healthy diet while protecting the environment. But, that doesn’t mean that various types of plant-based milk don’t leave a bad footprint on the earth. This is related to the use of natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions in the production process.

In commercial plant-based dairy products, its production still requires massive land and water supply which considered as limited resources. In addition, the manufacturing process also emits greenhouse gases, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. All of that will later contribute to global warming.

What are the impacts of the following types of plant-based milk on the environment? Is plant-based milk environmentally friendly? Read the answer below.

Soy Milk

Soybeans are considered to be one of the main contributors to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. This condition is related to the high demand for soybeans, so that more land is needed. Meanwhile, a study published in 2018 also found that in 1 liter of soy milk, it takes up to 2.6 sq km of land.

However, the percentage of soy for milk consumed by humans is much less than for other needs. Soybeans are actually widely grown for animal food and biofuel needs.

To overcome this, the United States (US), a country that controls 35% of global soybean production, agreed the Amazon Soybean Moratorium. One of the contents of the agreement is that soybean entrepreneurs are not allowed to use land that has just been cleared. This, fortunately, has succeeded in reducing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Although the high demand for soybeans requires a large area of ​​land, this plant still provides environmental benefits. Like other legumes, soybeans help fix nitrogen in the soil. That way, the need for nitrogen fertilizers is minimal.

Almond Milk

It is feared that commercial almond milk production could have a negative impact on the availability of water on earth. This is because the process of making almond milk is the most water intensive. In fact, it needs much more water than other types of plant-based milk, such as soy milk or oat milk.

One study published in 2017 stated that to produce California almonds, it takes about 12 liters of water. Another study also stated that almonds are plants with the highest carbon footprint compared to other crops, such as apples, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, and carrots.

From the facts above, environmentalists, especially in the US, suggest that these nuts are no longer grown for commercial purposes. Moreover, about 80% of global almond production is done in California, USA. This contributed to the extreme drought the US state has experienced over the past few years.

Oat Milk

Oat milk comes from wheat, a monoculture crop that is often grown on a large scale. This means that wheat is the only crop grown on the same field over and over again.

The impact of monoculture plants on the environment is the reduced diversity of insects in the surrounding ecosystem. This will trigger an increase in pests, so the use of pesticides must be done.

One type of pesticide that is widely used for wheat is glyphosate-based. This ingredient has been shown to have negative effects on plants and animals, as it promotes the growth and spread of pathogens.

But on the other hand, a study initiated by an oat brand shows that oat milk does not contribute much to global warming. This refers to its production which produces 80% less greenhouse gas emissions than cow’s milk.

It also uses 60% less energy and 80% less land-use than cow’s milk. However, when compared to other plant-based milks, oat milk requires more land than almond or soy. But, the use of water is considered less when compared to almonds.

That’s a review of whether plant-based milk is really environmentally friendly or not. The three types mentioned above still leave a negative imprint on the earth. Even so, plant-based milk remains an environmentally friendly choice when compared to dairy milk.