If you have been following Earth Mamas International then you might notice a trend or theme in our blogs, posts and updates. We are all about awareness and support towards living a more sustainable lifestyle. Whether it be our own journey or the journey of our followers, we are always looking for new ways to help make this possible.
One small change that has been proven to help reduce our carbon footprint, is by substituting plant based “milk” alternatives like soy, almond, oat or coconut (to name a few of the most popular) where you would normally use dairy milk. This could be in your morning coffee/tea, with your cereal, in smoothies and can even work well as substitute in baking.
I personally made a switch to almond milk in my coffee/tea when I was trying out a month of eating vegan but have kept up with it because I really do enjoy the taste. However, to be fully honest, I do still buy dairy milk because it is one of the few things my picky two year old will actually consume. While on the topic of kids and before I get into the rest of this post, I thought I should mention that it’s never advised to use plant-based “milks” as a substitute for breast milk or baby formula.
Since I am not a nutritionist, but was mostly interested the environmental impacts of plant based milk versus dairy milk, I was excited to research and explore the these “milk” alternatives as they have been becoming more and more popular and also share some easy recipes on how to make your own at home!
“Looking at the global averages illustrated in the chart below, producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times the greenhouse gas emissions of any non-dairy milks, according to a University of Oxford study.”
The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the dairy industry contributes 4 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions—52 percent of which is methane, which can trap up to 100 times more heat than carbon dioxide.
An article written by the SierraClub.Org states that animal agriculture consumes 2,422 billion cubic meters of water annually (about one-fourth of the global water footprint), 19 percent of which is related to dairy cattle.
“Almond milk requires more water to produce than soy or oat milk. A single glass requires 74 litres (130 pints of water) – more than a typical shower. Rice milk is also comparatively thirsty, requiring 54 litres of water per glass.
However, it’s worth noting that both almond and rice milk still require less water to produce than the typical glass of dairy milk.” (BBC news)
Land use is another issue and it’s easy to see in the chart above that dairy far exceeds any of the plant-based alternatives.
“Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 sq m (7,000 sq ft) of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk.”
The research is clear, plant-based ‘milk’ alternatives have a reduced impact on our environment versus dairy. Fortunately, these milk alternatives have risen dramatically in popularity and are widely available at your local grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and you may even notice them in fridges of family and friends. Pretty amazing that we now have all of these options!
It’s very exciting to have all of these options available for purchase but did you know that some of these “milks” can easily be made at home?
an added bonus to making your own plant based “milks” is that it can reduce your impact even more. Reductions in transportation impacts and packaging and water use. If you buy your nuts and grains from a bulk provider or a zero-waste store than it’s even less waste!
A little side note before I get into the recipes; most plant-based “milks” you buy in the stores are fortified with vitamins and minerals that are not naturally found in the nuts or grains that are at the base of these alternatives. The nutritional properties can’t be directly compared to the “milks” you make at home but have naturally nutritious properties of their own.
I’ll share a few recipes and tips from my own experiences as well as some resources I’ve found useful. I’ll stick to my favourites and the easier ones to make(in my opinion); Almond, Oat and Coconut “milk”.
Almonds are known as a good source of vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and high-quality protein; they also contain high levels of healthy unsaturated fatty acids along with high levels of bioactive molecules (such as fiber, phytosterols, vitamins, other minerals, and antioxidants), which may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
How to make almond milk:
Check out this recipe from Minimalist Baker
Follow the link for full recipe and instructions.
Author: Minimalist Baker
Earth Mama Tips:
- Be creative with ingredients: follow a recipe but don’t be afraid to play with measurements and ingredients to find what works best for your tastes and needs.
- Use a natural sweetener: I really love Maple Syrup (true Canadian) and use it in everything. It adds a nice flavor to my homemade almond milk.If using dates as a sweetener soak them along with the almonds to soften them. They will blend more smoothly into the mix.
- Use what you have!: I thought I needed a nut-milk bag to make my almond milk but discovered that my metal sieve (strainer) worked well. I just had to use a spoon to press down on the almond “pulp” to squeeze the excess liquid out.
Oats are rich in fiber (insoluble and soluble) as well as vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium and zinc (Heathline). They are free of allergens like nuts and gluten but you have to make sure you are buying oats that are processed in a facility that is free from wheat or gluten contaminants.
Oat milk is the EASIEST “milk” to make!
How to make Oat Milk:
Follow this link for an easy recipe by Mind Body Green
This video below shares a recipe for oat milk with or without using a nut milk bag from the Green Creator:
Earth Mama Tips:
- Don’t Strain: If you don’t mind a thicker liquid, leave the oats in. You will have to shake it before using it but will keep all of the important fiber that the oats provide.
- Don’t forget the pinch of salt, it balances out the flavor of the oats, and add a natural sweetener if you want like dates or maple syrup. You can also flavor your oat milk with chocolate/cocoa or fruit (strawberries or blueberries, whatever you have).
Coconuts are rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. They are high in fat but studies have shown that is used used more quickly (rapidly metabolized in the liver) and less likely to be stored as fat and coconut has been proven to have antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial that destroys a wide variety of disease causing organisms. (BBC-goodfood).
How to make Coconut Milk: Follow this link to a recipe developed by Wellness Mama
Earth Mama Tips:
- Use fresh coconut or creamed coconut if you can find it instead of desiccated to make your milk.
- Try using it for hot chocolate, it’s delicious!
I hope you found these recipes useful and will try them at home. It’s easier than it seems and don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with ingredient quantities and flavors.
Share your tried and true recipes and tips! We would love to hear from you!