Plant Milk or Dairy, Which is Better for Your Health and the Planet

Sustainable Lifestyle Jun 05, 2019

Which is better, dairy milk or plant milk? This currently a thriving debate! In some countries, like the UK, Canada and even parts of the USA, there has been a massive increase in plant milk sales. With this increase, so comes a decrease in dairy. With this decrease we're seeing huge advertising investments from the dairy industry, showing off the benefits of dairy. But which is actually better?

We can only really find the answer by looking at how milks effect animals, people and the planet.

Pros of Plant Milk

For Animals
🥛 Plant milk is a cruelty-free option, requiring no animals to be farmed, impregnated and slaughtered.

Cow dairy milk farming

Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

For People
🥛 Approximately 70% of the world is lactose intolerant, plant alternatives provide a solution.
🥛 Plant milks provide a wide variety of flavour and nutritional content.
🥛 Plant milks contain less natural sugar and saturated fats than dairy milk, making them a healthier option.
🥛 Commercial plant milks can be fortified to include additional nutrients, such as B12.
🥛 Plant milks can easily be made at home, making them an easy option for zero waste and low impact lifestyles.
🥛 Plant milk doesn't contain hormones that can mess with the hormonal system (with the exception of soy which contains a hormone-like component).

Zero Waste Homemade Almond Milk

For the Planet
🥛 Plant milks use up to 9 times less land per litre than dairy, use less water, and create fewer emissions.
🥛 Some plants milks are highly sustainable such as; coconut and oat which use far less water, hemp which requires fewer pesticides, and soy which requires less land and pesticides.

Dairy and plant milk comparison chart of environmental impact

Cons of Plant Milk

For People
🥛 Some plant milks have less essential nutrients than dairy unless they are fortified. For this reason, parents should be wary of potential deficiencies in children.
🥛 Plant milk tends to cost more than dairy. This can be a barrier for some people.
For the Planet
🥛 Not all plant milks are created equal. Some are less sustainable than others. For instance, rice and almond require far more water than other plant milks.
🥛 Some milks, like soy and oats, put biodiversity at risk through deforestation, when land is cleared for farming.

Are plant milks better than dairy?

Yes. Plant milks are undoubtedly better than dairy for people, animals, and the environment. However, they aren’t without their concerns. As consumers we should be aware of these issues and try to overcome them, seeking the most sustainable alternatives.

As always, thanks for reading.
Chelsea ✌️🐌


Activist and organizer with Greenpeace Vancouver. Writes about climate and social justice, feminism, greenwashing, and fossil fuel fuckery.

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