Is Almond Milk Bad for the Planet? (+ Some Myths Debunked)
First almond milk and other plant-based milks are lauded as a healthy alternative to regular milk; the next thing is they are being hailed as environmentally destructive. I exclusively drink nut milk at home (I make my own) and when I first starting hearing these claims, I decided to look into it a little more.
I want to live as sustainably as I can, and I also want to understand as much as I can about where my food comes from.
Articles with headlines like “Almond milk: quite good for you – very bad for the planet” and “Your Almond Habit Is Sucking California Dry“, published by reputable news sources (in this case, The Guardian and Mother Jones respectively), make it easy to see why many people think nut milk is bad for the planet.
But these articles don’t tell the whole story.
The headlines definitely don’t tell the whole story.
Sustainable choices are rarely completely black and white. There’s often compromise, or prioritizing one aspect of “green” over another.
If you stopped at the headline, you’d think that almond milk is bad for the planet. I want to go beyond the headline, to find out what reasons they give, and explore the rest of the story.
NB Statement quoted below were taken from this article by the Guardian.
The ‘Water’ Issue
The main environmental concern with almond milk seems to be the amount of water needed to grow almonds, coupled with the fact that most almond trees are grown in drought-hit California.
“It takes 1.1 gallons (4.16 litres) of water to grow one almond.” (The Guardian quoted this article, which stated where they obtained their data from: Mekonnen, M. M and Hoekstra, A. Y 2011.)
There are 92 almonds in a cup, which makes a litre of homemade almond milk. That means 1 litre of almond milk requires 384 litres of water to produce.
(Store-bought almond milk appears to have a much lower almond content, listed as around 2% of the total. Most brands do not list the number of almonds used per litre, but it is thought to be much less than homemade nut milks.)
“This isn’t to say cow’s milk, which takes about 100 litres of water to produce 100ml of milk, is more environmentally friendly”. (The Guardian quoted 250ml as requiring 255 litres; this source contains the research data.)
A litre of cow’s milk requires 1016 litres of water to produce.
Almond milk requires 384 litres of water per litre, and cow’s milk requires 1016 litres of water to produce, which is 2.5x more water. Almond milk is less water intensive than dairy milk.
Environmental Impacts: the ‘Cows Versus Trees’ Issue
It is very frustrating when environmental impacts are measured on one factor alone. For many companies, using plastic is considered a more environmentally friendly option than using paper or glass, as it has a lower carbon footprint and is cheaper to transport. But when you take into account reuse-ability, recycle-ability and nenew-ability, it is a different picture.
Talking about the environmental impact of almonds based solely on water usage is only part of the story. What about the fact that almonds grow on trees, which stabilise soil, add oxygen to the atmosphere and decrease soil erosion?
Compare this with dairy cows, which are big contributors to greenhouse gas emissions (methane), require huge swathes of land to produce feed, and contribute to soil erosion and waterways pollution.
Animal welfare and ethical issues aside, growing trees seems the more environmental choice over raising cows.
The ‘Location’ Issue
Almonds seem to be targeted because they are grown in California, which has been hit by drought in recent years.
“More than 80% of the world’s almond crop is grown in California.”
This means 20% is not. Australia is the second-largest almond producer. I exclusively purchase Australian almonds as they are local to me. All produce has a printed country of origin, even products purchased in bulk stores. I purchase all my nuts from The Source Bulk Foods (they have 33 stores across Australia), as they stock Australian almonds as well as other nuts from Australia.
Almonds are also grown in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. World production is 2.9 million tonnes, and the USA produces 1.8 million tonnes. There are a million+ tonnes of almonds not grown in the USA to choose from.
For all of us living outside the USA, we have the option to purchase non-Californian almonds. However, Californian almonds are definitely more common.
If low food miles and sourcing locally grown or produced food is a priority, and almonds don’t grow close to where you live, almonds might not be the best choice for you.
“Its production is not concentrated in one area of the globe.” Meaning that whilst dairy milk is produced globally, almond production is concentrated in California.
Does distribution even matter? Or is it more about scale?
In 2014 California produced 2.14 billion pounds of almonds. In the same year California produced 42.3 billion pounds of milk. Regardless of worldwide production distribution, California produces more milk than almonds, and milk has a greater water footprint than almonds.
When the water used to produce Californian almonds is dwarfed by the water used to produce Californian dairy products, it seems a little misleading to claim that it is almonds that are “sucking California dry.”
They may not be blameless, but they seem to get more blame than they deserve.
The ‘Scapegoat’ Issue
California might have a lot of almond trees, but it’s an agricultural powerhouse, growing more than 200 crop varieties including almost all of America’s apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the US production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries.
California also produces huge numbers of animal products including milk, beef cattle, eggs, sheep, turkeys, hogs and horses.
Dairy and livestock are considered far more water intensive than vegetable crops. Almonds use similar water to other nut trees (and 99% of America’s walnuts are also grown in California). “Fresh” crops like lettuce and broccoli not only need large quantities of water to produce, they need to be refrigerated and are often air-freighted to their destination.
Why do almonds get a bad rap, whilst all the banana bread bakers adding Californian walnuts to their loaves get not a single talking-to?
I wonder if it is because almond-milk drinkers are seen as trendy hipsters. I wonder if people are trying to make it into a “class” issue (if almond milk is seen as middle-class). I wonder if it is because the dairy industry has a lot of money to push towards fighting the growing nut milk industry and the potential decline of dairy milk sales.
I can make my guesses, but I can’t know for sure. I do think that almonds (and almond-milk drinkers) are unfairly targeted. The issues go much deeper.
The ‘Packaging’ Issue
It is not the growing of almonds that is so bad for the planet. It is the mass manufacture of almond milk and the global shipping to stores worldwide that is having a negative environmental impact.
Shipping water all around the globe is crazy. Most of us wouldn’t dream of buying bottled water (assuming we have drinkable water coming from the tap), but carton nut milk is 98% water. It is virtually the same thing!
Then there’s the containers. Nut milk is usually packaged in Tetra Paks, and these aren’t as easily recycled as their manufacturers would like us to think they are. Theoretically recycable is not the same as actually recycled in our town/municipality/state.
Recycable or not, they are designed to be used once only and not refilled.
Buying carton nut milk, especially one that has been manufactured overseas, is not an environmentally sound choice. From a transport (and energy) perspective, dairy milk has a lesser impact as demand is typically for fresh milk, so it is sold locally.
The great news is, it is really easy to make your own almond and other plant-based milks. I typcially make my own cashew milk and almond milk, but you can use any type of nuts. I’ve made macadamia milk, walnut milk, and brazil nut milk. I’ve even made seed milks! Experiment, and find your favourite.
What is the Most Environmentally Sustainable Milk Option?
At it’s heart, I don’t think this is about almonds. Or dairy cows.
The real issue here is industrial agriculture in a fragile, sensitive environment, and pursuing profit at the expense of the planet.
If you can, support local farmers, and buy products produced in your local area – or as close to your local area as possible. If you choose to drink nut milk, consider buying nuts and making your own. Oat milk is another (nut free) option.
If you’d rather buy packaged plant milk, look for one that has been manufactured locally (even if the ingredients are from overseas). Coconuts require far less water than other nuts, and grow in climates where rain is plentiful.
Of course, we could refuse milk entirely, dairy, almond or otherwise. We could drink black coffee. We could just drink water, which we harvested from the roof in our rainwater tank. We could… but will we? There’s the perfect world, and then there’s the real world – the one we live in.
I think it’s important to ask questions, and to try to understand where our food comes from. I think it’s valuable to understand why we make the choices we do. Sometimes our choices are less than ideal. It isn’t about being perfect. It’s about trying to do the best we can.
This is outstanding. Thank you for all your research and hard work.
Echo my thoughts exactly!
Thanks Sarah! You ladies are so kind :)
Thank you Rebekah, glad you liked it! :)
Yes, thank you so much Lindsay! I’ve had a few people tell me “almond milk is even worse for the environment”, and it’s been bothering me quite a bit, so I really appreciate this post. I do make my own nut milks, and these days I try to alternate between nut and seed milks.
I was ruminating about this when someone told me the same thing! I don’t have a blender to make my own but at least I won’t feel guilty when I go buy my almond milk at the store!
Thanks Lindsay for the time and energy spent putting this together. your work really helps me refine my choices and become clearer and more confident. Well done and thankyou for what you do
Thank you Glenda, that’s such a lovely thing to say :) Happy to be able to help!
I don’t recall the name of the company but there is one in the US that has totally gone out of the cow’s milk market and into alternative plant based milks.
That’s interesting, Ingrid! I just wish more people knew how easy they were to DIY, it would save so much packaging…
Amazing and informative article! Thank you for sharing your research! (Btw, just started drinking seed mylks and they are SO good! My favorite so far is sunflower seed mylk )
Thank you! My pleasure. Have you tried pumpkin seed milk? I’ve been meaning to try flax seed milk since forever, that is next on my list!
Thank you very informative!
Impressive research, Lindsay! Thanks & cheers Urban Tucker Woman
Thanks Caroline :)
Thanks for such a well written post. I often see similar arguments (just looking at the base carbon footprint, and not the whole environmental impact) used to defend plastic bags.
Thanks Elizabeth. Oooh I hear you – such a one sided argument. That’s the argument ‘Boxed Water Is Better’ (hah!) use – their very-hard-to-recycle containers use less energy to transport than glass or PET water bottles. Butthey aren’t commonly recycled, so how is that better? That’s worse! I find these kind of one-angle arguments very frustrating, and often misleading.
Fantastic: thanks for that!
I’m from California and my husband farms avocado and citrus in San Diego & Riverside counties, south of Los Angeles. Water is a very complex and controversial issue here & in many other parts of the world. It has been for as long as man wanted to claim rights to it.
Good job looking into this, cause ithere is always more to one of these stories.
In California, farmers can apply for a discounted rate, but there are a lot of avocado, citrus & almond trees that have had their water turned off. You can point your finger at the drought or many other things, but I like to focus on the housing developments with their new water meters. …and all the green lawns that remain. Too many people in this state at the expense of agriculture. Agriculture is huge in California and should be with its prime growing conditions. Less (big) houses means less people, means more water for agriculture.
That’s just my 2cents.
Pat, thank you so much for this contribution to the story! Yes, you are right, water is a complex issue – well I guess most things are. Everything is interconnected, after all!
You’re right, I didn’t touch on development at all. Here in Perth we have a similar problem. We have huge urban sprawl and everyone wanting green lawns and swimming pools, meanwhile 40% of our water is from desalination plants and we now treat sewage to make it drinkable. The energy required for these processes is immense! And yet, I could fill my 3000 litre rainwater tank with tap water for less than $5. Tap water is cheap, and people do not value it as they should.
Thanks for raising these points! :)
I have thought that very way for some time now. With such a bounty of agriculture in California it seems like a sin to squander it by watering lawns, etc.
Well argued Lindsay! As you suggest, the factory dairy farming industry must be in a panic now that people are becoming aware of the environmental damage, as well as health and animal welfare issues with intensive dairy farming. Nut milk does seem to get a bad rap and I think your idea of buying locally produced nuts is a sound one environmentally. There’s also oat milk – I can buy local oats so I make oat milk. I like the taste of Organic Oatly too and buy that (I live in the UK), but you’re right to question whether the waxy cartons can be recycled.
Thanks Tracy! I think locally produced anything is a better option. Of course, sometimes it isn’t possible, but we should always try to, I think. I have been meaning to make oat milk for oh-so long! I really must get round to it. Also, I met someone who made peanut milk! Peanuts are technically legumes and grow in the ground, so don’t need much water at all. Another option ;)
Those tetra pak type cartons aren’t recycled in Australia. Because of all the layers, it is hard to separate. The companies that make them spend an awful lot of time and effort (and no doubt money!) convincing us how green they are, and that always raises alarm bells for me…
Great post, yes it would be interesting to know if the dairy industry is behind these alarming but false headlines. I drink almond, oat and soy milk. I think the whole bad rap that soy milk has has also been false and alarmist when you look into the research. Might have to move over to coconut milk though if that’s a better option from an environmental perspective.
Thanks for all your posts. Jenni
Thank you Jenni… and yes it would! I’ve always avoided soy because it’s meant to be an estrogen-mimic and because it’s also one of those high allergen foods. I remember reading an article about it when I was in high school – so maybe I need to revisit that sometime!
Coconuts tend to grow in places where rain is plentiful, and I can’t imagine there’s many chemicals used in their growth. I think carton coconut milk is about 20% coconut. My husband buys a tin of coconut milk for his coffee, that is 60% coconut. To make it the same consistency as the “coconut milk” you buy in cartons, it needs diluting with water. Saves buying the water! Another thing about coconut milk is that it doesn’t have stabilisers and gums like carton almond milk, so less additives. Just an fyi ;)
Good point! I try to avoid major sources of soy, because most soy is GMO meaning it is aerial sprayed with glyphosate (round up) and there are likely traces of the herbicide that remain. Glyphosate has been shown to disrupt gut flora balance as gut bacteria have the same metabolic pathway found in plants that round up targets. Which means that soy isn’t a great health choice or environmental choice because of the way it’s grown unfortunately
Great post Lindsay. Thoroughly reasearched as usual.
Thank you Kate :)
Great arguments, Lindsay. There are a lot of problems with the majority of our produce (and almonds) coming from California. Monocrops are not healthy to begin with. When it comes to almonds, almond trees can be grown in the majority of the country and I feel if a few people in each location planted a couple of trees there would be enough to go around and the transportation costs would decrease. I have two almond trees here in Pennsylvania that will produce all my almond needs and then some. We get enough rain that I never have to water my fruit and nut trees either.
Also the almond crops in California have to be pollinated by bees trucked in which adds to the cost.
My argument is that decentralizing our food production would be better for the environment and add more security to our food supply no matter what the food is.
Lois! So good to hear from you :) Ah, I agree completely. There are so many more blog posts that could be written on the subject. This whole industrial production of our food, and disconnect with where our food comes from – that’s a whole other issue. I love that you have two almond trees. We have an almond tree in our local park but the parrots made light work of those almonds before I could get a single one. Luckily I have fared much better with the pecan tree next to it – I’m thinking I will get a couple of kilos from the pecans by the end of the season. The cockatoos and crows are helping themselves, but they don’t like getting them from the ground – and I don’t want to climb the tree. A symbiotic relationship :)
Hope your garden is going well :)
I looked at planting a pecan tree but it takes so long for them to mature enough to produce that I don’t know if I would even be able to live here then.
Great post, Lois! Thank you for mentioning the bees. Decentralizing/localizing our food production makes so much sense environmentally and economically. Thank you for mentioning the bees. They are flown across country then trucked to the orchards. Flying and trucking also add to the carbon footprint. Many bees die in the process, or are killed when the trees are sprayed. According to an article in Mother Jones magazine, thousands of king salmon are also threatened by low water levels during the drought as water is diverted to almonds trees from the Klamath River.
Tina, I missed the Mother Jones article but it makes sense to me that the salmon are as affected as all other animals on earth. The trucking of the bees just makes me so upset. We are losing our bee populations after harsh winters and so on, they need our protection not being trucked to their deaths.
Fantastic post! Thank you so much for all your information – so interesting to read!
Thank you! glad you found it helpful :)
Thank-you for a well balanced article with no emotive language.
Thank you :)
Loved reading your article Lindsay, especially because you researched it well and gave the bigger picture. Have you seen ‘Queen Bee’? (I think that’s what it’s called), it’s about how they transport bees to fertilise the almond tree flowers’ around America. The bees are stacked up on pallets which are then wrapped in glad wrap and put on the back of trucks to be dropped off at the almond plantations. They have to do this because growing monocultures reduced the number of bees at the plantations. Just another aspect to consider when weighing up the environmental impact of US produced almonds versus cow’s milk. Cheers for reading! Jacqui x
Hi Jacqui! I haven’t seen the movie, but I read a damning report about California’s fruit and veg industry and the link to bee colony collapse disorder. It wasn’t just almonds but all the fruit trees – as you say, monocultures are bad in so many ways. The study I read said that as well as overwork, the bees were also mal-nourished because they only ate one type of pollen, as any other flowering plant was removed to increase almond yield. It was quite eye-opening.
By all means double check this, but I suspect things might be similar in Australia. Not in the sense that we’ve experienced colony collapse disorder to the level that has been seen overseas, but commercial bee keepers do service our agricultural sector to ensure crops are pollinated.
Love your article.
Great informations and a good point of view.
Thanks Jule – glad you found it informative and useful :)
Thanks for the research Lindsay! It would be interesting to dig more into the drought/water usage question for California and Australia. Having said that, my top level research for Victoria suggested that dairy is the most concerning user and if we don’t get the Murray darling agreement right it’s a moot point anyway :(
It’s interesting for sure, Rachel. I’d love to know more. It would certainly be interesting to know the details about Australia, but it always seems to be California that is talked about.
Brilliant piece! Please pitch the story to one of the weekend lifestyle magazines. With a slight re-write, it deserves and would get, a mass audience.
Thanks Debbie :) Ah, it’s something else for the to-do list!
Great article! I get a lot of value from your articles. Keep doing your thing- the world needs more movers and shakers like you!
Thank you! I’m so glad :)
Before I read this article I read an academic paper which found very different information to you, namely that the amount of water required to produce a litre of almond milk was well over 1000 gallons. Almond milk used 17 times more water than dairy in their examination of multiple studies into the issue
I should add the overall environmental impact is probably higher in dairy according to the paper, although it did not take transportation into account. My interest mainly lies in wanting to compare with my local farm from whom I buy directly to support the farmer, I want to know if an extremely local focus on meat and dairy could offset the environmental impacts of my diet
According to the following study livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
while transportation exhaust is responsible for only 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
So while buying local is of course better than buying things shipped from far away, shipped products that are not produced by livestock are much better than locally produced meat & dairy products.
Here is what looks to be an undergraduate paper: https://www.ioes.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/cow-vs-almond-milk-1.pdf
Apart from the environmental impact of growing almonds in drought-stricken California, and then using water to produce the nut milk, what happens to the nut meat once the milk has been extracted? Is it thrown away, composted, or made into something else?
When I eat a nut, any nut, I eat the whole thing, but what happens to the residual almond grounds, or any other residual grounds to make vegan milk?
If it’s not used to make another food then it sounds very wasteful. However, making that food also uses more energy and possibly water too.
This is SUCH a good article. All other articles I’ve read before were either extremely biased against almond milk or didn’t paint a complete picture. This one is by far the most complete and most practicable article (no other post I’ve read suggested how to enjoy almond milk in a more environmentally friendly way for example). Great work!
thank you for this information! great to have a few points cleared up in one location
I don’t think it’s right to compare the water usage with cows milk. You already stated that “most almond trees are grown in drought-hit California.” Most dairy farms are definitely not, most are in lush green lands with plenty of water. Smoke and mirrors is what i see here.
Hi Mark! I’m intrigued as to why you say you don’t think it is “right” to compare? I’m not sure what you mean by “right”. Sure, almond trees and cows are very different, but when we look at environmental footprints, they both have one (as does everything). My reason for comparing the water use of almonds versus that of dairy was in response to the articles I was reading saying that almond milk was bad for the planet comparing the water use to cow’s milk. That is what I looked into. I could have looked into soil erosion, or methane gas release, or transport emissions of products produced, or other aspects, but I only really touched on them above.
“Lush green lands” – where exactly are you referring to? Are you meaning places that are lush and green as the result of irrigation? I was interested to find out how much dairy is produced in California. The California Dairy Board tells me that 18.5% of US milk is produced in California and California is actually the biggest milk producer in the US. You can read more here: http://www.californiadairypressroom.com/Press_Kit/Dairy_Industry_Facts
His point is that it’s not a 1:1 comparison. This is from the last part of the full quote from that Guardian article:
“this isn’t to say cow’s milk, which takes about 100 litres of water to produce 100ml of milk, is more environmentally friendly – **more that its production is not concentrated in one area of the globe**).”
Lindsay this topic is always…well…food for thought, so thank you. I happen to like most of the milk alternatives, coconut water and milk as well, but I always hear coconut milk is very rich and not good for you. I dk how true that is though. So my question is putting taste, environmental issues and of course moderation aside, which milk alternative do you think is the healthiest choice?
I was thinking the same as you Darryn! I would like to know the true facts compared to say, oat, rice and soy milks,
This a great read, interesting, and although I am not a vegetarian this was informative and has made me think about the greater environment a little bit better. I do however want to say, in the field of research you need to compare apples with apples – for me I would have thought that the proposition of almond milk being more harmful to the environment would have been in the context of comparison against other non-dairy milk products such as soy milk etc – and although some above have hinted the report against almond milk could have been instigated by the dairy industry, I would look more inward to other vegetarian sources as the culprit who are competing in a very tight market for market share, but that is not what I wanted to ask – it would be interesting to see the same research above as a comparison against other non-dairy milk products – once again thank you for the above.
Nice article! But concerning the water issue, I think its important to be factual correct.
According to the guardian, 1 litre of industrial produced almond milk, takes 6098 litres of water to produce:
Thank you for your hard work and insight!
I don’t see your source for these statements: “A litre of cow’s milk requires 1016 litres of water to produce.
“Almond milk requires 384 litres of water per litre, and cow’s milk requires 1016 litres of water to produce, which is 2.5x more water. Almond milk is less water intensive than dairy milk.”
Can you cite your source(s)?
I believe it was from the Guardian article referenced a couple of comments above. Unfortunately the Guardian mixed up gallons and litres in the initial article and have since corrected it so the water estimate for almonds is dramatically higher
My almond tree is doing awesome. I got my first almonds off it last year. It’s doing so well I am going to plant another one this year.
This is factually incorrect; it takes 920 gallons of water to produce a gallon of almond milk. A cow drinks about 40 gallons of water a day and produces 7 gallons of milk i.e about 6 gallons of water to produce a gallon of milk. The figures quoted about methane production from cows are hugely inflated (lol). The nut solids are filtered off and discarded and degrade producing huge volumes of methane. Almond milk is a totally unnatural chemical concoction and unless you are unlucky enough to be lactose intolerant, to be avoided like the plague. Unless the almonds are scrupulously produced, stored and tested, they may well contain aflatoxin, the most potent carcinogen known to man. Drink this alchemists spawn at your peril!!!
Very nice article! I am more of a cow milk drinker but it is good to know what all the impacts are. In my country, the netherlands, we have to import all kinds of nut while we are a big producer of cow milk. We always buy the 2 liter plastic containers instead of the small packaged cartons. I think that is a sustainable choice because they get collected seperately and re-used.
What I always wondered was, why not just eat the almonds instead of drinking it’s milk? Do you know anything about the losses of making milk out of the almonds?
Good article. I have to add that growing almonds is relatively new to the US and it is a water-sucking crop, no doubt, but it is the very ‘newness’ to growing the crop that caused this. In Europe, and not sure about AU, many water-saving practices are in place for hundreds of years….water-saving ground cover, for example. The US does not do this, to their demise. On another note, honestly, we have become rather greedy in our ‘need’ to eat/drink that which is not within our own country. That would create a sustainable world…the 200 mile diet. Do we really need the avocado (much more water than an almond and contributes to the exploitation of a country that is governed by a cruel cartel). Seriously, if it grows near me, I eat it and limit the imported foods as much as I can, increasing my awareness of what is really happening out there.
While there are some quantitative arguments cited from other articles most are qualitative, sadly. Cows are breed for milk and meat and offspring, no offspring no milk. So water consumption is not exclusive for milk but rather to sustain 700lbs of body eventually ending up as meat. Almonds do not have another use once milked. So the direct comparison is misleading, because apparently meat needs no water…
That said, almond trees are put on existing farmland replacing low water crops and range land therefore net increasing water demand. They also will be replaced now and then leaving them up for burn, yet burn is not allowed. So there is an issue. Finally, trees produce almonds in hulls and shells, which are leaving huge piles, with nowhere to go.
There is no argument that we all would be better of as vegetarians, but we are not, so the reality is that an increasing population will eat more meat and nuts and resources get tight because of growth.
There’s not a single mention of the calorific value of different milks. Full fat cow’s milk has about 5 times the calories than plain almond milk. So, the amount of water required on a per calorie basis is less for cow’s milk (about half). If you want to feed people, you need calories.
This is a biased article. I start with that because its true. It is a mix good facts with much padding to hide the crux of the argument, which is, if you buy commercially made milk in the UK, for example, you should buy cows milk. UK cows milk is made in the most efficient and best welfare farms in the world and is on your doorstep and you get good protein beef too. If you live in California buy Almond mik. If you must have Almond milk due to lacto free, for example, make your own or better use a local version like oat milk if in the UK or whatever geographical sources work best.
For another example a Scottish person should eat Beef or venison when nothing else will live sensibly in their geographical area while at the same time it is wrong to eat imported Argentine beef in the middle of in Thailand.
Wonderful article, I appreciate the time and effort put in to present the facts and uncover some hidden meaning behind certain issues. Especially pointing out that the overarching issue seems to stem from certain harmful industrial agricultural practices for profit.
Will you please consider sharing your thoughts on the Guardian article released today about almond milk “sending bees to war”?
Have you considered where almonds are grown in Australia?
They are grown in northern Victoria, southern NSW and along those borders in SA also. Many of these areas could not naturally sustain such crops, These are areas where the Murray river water has been diverted, privatised and sold to the highest bidder to the detriment of ecology and the natural habitat that relies on the Murray Darling basin.
It’s all good and well comparing almonds to cows milk, but there is much more going on behind the scenes that have allowed this crop to flourish in a relatively short time.
Almond farmers also use high amounts of pesticides because they have not adapted to farming methods such as symbiotic planting which would allow the crop to flourish healthily naturally because they want led the crops to provide nuts in a shorter timespan to satisfy their international backers.
It may be the case that trees are better than cows for the environment, but imagine a world where an almond farmer and cow farmer coexist in the knowledge that the fertile soil created by cows supports almonds and the lush patures created by less intensive almond farms support cows.
If you feel the desire also look into the effects on the planet of intensive plantations on bee populations, which as David Attenborough has made us aware must be protected at all costs.
I do hope our government stop allowing the precious resources of our nation be sold, diverted and pillaged at the cost of the planet.
Good article, thank you.
Watch out for sensational headlines such as “…like Sending bees to war…”. Many California almond growers are planting wildflowers between hedgerows to encourage native pollinators as well as honey bees. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/seeds-for-bees-millions-of-wildflowers-and-cover-crops-set-to-bloom-alongside-californias-annual-almond-blossom-300987220.html
What an awesome article. My family is trying to switch from dairy milk to plant based but it’s pretty expensive and harder to convince the kids than we thought. Almond milk is readily available and makes great lattes so we were using heaps of it until I read about the California bee and water issues. We’ve been loving oat milk but it’s hard to get and always sells out at the supermarket. At least now I won’t feel too guilty and still buy some almond milk.
Wish we could buy it in glass bottles though.
Actually completely wrong about cows milk it takes on average 3litres to produce 1 Litre of milk an average cow will produce 28 litres so a cow on average drinks 84 litres of water to make 28 litres of milk, compared to your one almond that can take 1 gallon, and as you said it can take 384 litres to produce 1 litre of almond alternative drink so 1 litre of almond drink uses more water than a cow would to produce 128 litres of milk
In terms of environmental impact – did you mention the number of bees killed in the production of almond milk.
Google search: how much litre of water for 1 litre of almond milk?
= 6000 litres.
Google search: how much litre of water for 1 litre of cows milk?
= 1000 litres.
How is it also, seemingly a person at home making homemade almond milk uses less litres of water than a economy of scaled factory making almond milk… and the same question regarding a lifestyle block inhabitant making homemade cows milk?
Seems mostly just bogus information wars.
Nice article , over all most points make sense however the environmental impact of growing , processing the almonds has not been discussed. Tractor usage and other mechanised farming practices, also no mention of stabilising chemicals used in processing of almond milk hasn’t been covered
Hi Anujay, thanks for your comment. I didn’t have the time, space or inclination to research and write about the different mechanisation processes for different crops or animal milk production, nor any additives or even different packaging materials, transport costs (there would be a higher carbon footprint to transporting fresh versus long life product, for example) but I think it goes without saying that all mechanised processes use power, but very few of us live off the land. We are all just trying to make the best decisions we can with imperfect systems.
I had a dream about stomachache and throwing up after eating too many almonds. What does it mean?
I am a dairy farmer in uk,and I use 10 litres of water to produce 1 litre of milk.This does not include water falling as rain.You should drink oat milk if you are vegan ,as it is way more environmentally friendly .