Back in April, the BBC reported that the coronavirus lockdown measures had negatively impacted the dairy industry. Supply chain issues meant dairy farmers were having to literally throw thousands of litres of milk down the drain. Commercially, a nightmare; ethically, rather reprehensible. As we wrote in our first issue, 22 litres per day are expected from a commercial dairy cow; 60 litres in “peak times”. And milk is only produced due to pregnancy, with most calves only with their mothers for a day (so that lactation kicks in properly).
Most of us are now aware of where a fresh pint of milk comes from and while there will always be those who opt for dairy, more and more people are turning to plant milks instead. It’s not always the ethical consideration either. After all, the human body reduces lactase levels (the enzyme needed to digest lactose) as we age, leading to dairy intolerances in many. Then there’s the question of bovine hormones and those agriculturally inputted, together with antibiotics used widely in the livestock industry, and the effects on the body.
During essential shopping excursions from lockdown, it was clear that the trend for plant-based milks was no passing fad, especially when it came to oat milk. With Animal Aid’s second annual World Plant-Milk Day coming up on the 22nd August, be sure you know your hemp from your cashew milk now.
The easiest option to swap for similar effects to dairy milk in coffee, oat milk is low in fat and a good source of fibre. Environmentally, is requires a mere tenth of the land cattle require to be reared. There are also gluten-free options available for coeliacs.
Often fortified with calcium and other vitamins, unsweetened almond milk is a dairy-free option that rests of the fence of debate due to the amount of water it takes to produce. That said, many new almond farms once dealt in cattle, so…
A tropical option when the other non-dairy choices become a bit repetitive, coconut milk is not the most nutritious option, however. Good for shaking things up in a low calorie way.
Cashew milk, on the other hand, is loaded with iron and phosphorous, selenium and manganese, as well as copper. With 19% of protein in a serving, it’s high in fibre, too. Sells itself really…
The most fortified of the alternative milks, added to hemp milk are vitamins A and B12, as well as vitamin D and even calcium and phosophorous. Thinner in consistency than a lot of the non-dairy options, this takes some getting used to if switching straight over from cow’s milk.
The eco alternative to almond milk, using 100 times less water, pea milk (i.e. yellow split peas, not the green common to dinner tables nationwide) offers twice the calcium that diary milk does. Choose vitamin D and B12 fortified options if picking up a carton of this low-sugar non-dairy, nut-free milk.
Good for an energy boost due to the naturally-high carbohydrate and sugar content, rice milk has been around for a while, but is not the most nutritious milk alternative.
Perhaps the oldest of all dairy-free milk options, soya is also the one in turn most vilified and conversely lauded. The debate continues, but essentially soya still has its place in the refrigerator alongside the newbies.