Let’s clarify this first…all milk alternatives are far better for the planet than dairy. A 2018 study* by researchers at the University of Oxford showed that producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times more greenhouse gas emissions than any plant-based milk and it consumes nine times more land than any of the milk alternatives. The land is required to pasture the cows and grow their feed, which the animals belch out in the form of methane. However, not all plant-based milk is perfect. Here’s the skinny:
Almond milk requires more water than any other dairy alternative. But even worse, over ⅓ of *bees imported to pollinate almond trees die by season’s end every year. Everyone knows that humanity doesn’t survive if it doesn’t have a robust population of bees to help farmers grow food, so you might want to cancel that almond milk latte you just ordered.
Soy milk is appealing because it’s protein-rich. Soy milk comes from soybeans grown in massive quantities to feed livestock destroying the Amazonian rainforest to make way for soy plantations.
Rice milk is cheaper and relatively tasty. But it offers little in the way of nutrition and produces more greenhouse gas emissions than other plant milk.
Coconut milk is yummy but have you ever thought about how it’s harvested? The coconut farming pickers are usually from poor regions in the Philippines, Indonesia and India, where workers are often paid less than a dollar a day.
It’s easy and fun to create your own nutritious nut milk. All you need is a blender. Not only will you save a ton of money but you will be helping the planet since the cartons are not recyclable. These simple recipes are good for you and good for the planet!
What’s the deal with oat milk? Like hemp, it is one of the more promising plant milk options. Oats tend to be grown in cooler climates like the northern US and Canada. However, it’s not ideal that oat farms do not typically engage in regenerative farming. The monoculture is harsh. Most crops are sprayed with Roundup, so expect to consume some glyphosate with your cappuccino. And yup, this is true for both conventionally and even organic-grown oats
Hazelnut milk is more sustainable because these cute little nuts are pollinated by the wind rather than bees and they grow in the Pacific North-West, not South East Asia. This is not an ideal option if you have a nut allergy but hazelnuts are typically not as allergenic as almonds.
Hemp milk is one of my favourites, not just for its rich nutty flavour but because its health benefits include omega-3 fatty acids, protein, essential amino acids, calcium, Vitamin A and Magnesium plus it is super easy to make into milk.
Here are a couple of my favourite milk alternatives to make:
Strawberry Milk Recipe:
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1 cup water
10 strawberries, rinsed and cut in half
1/2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp hemp seed oil – optional, for extra richness
Fresh turmeric and ginger – optional, for an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant punch
Hazelnut Maple Milk Recipe
Makes close to 4 cups - almost a litre/pint
1 ½ cups of hazelnuts soaked in a bath of warm water overnight
4 ½ cups of filtered water
4 tablespoons of maple syrup (agave, honey or date syrup if you prefer)
3 pinches of Himalayan or sea salt
Optional - for an extra creamy texture add 1 teaspoon of oat flour.
For even more decadent deliciousness, add 1 teaspoon of coconut butter not to be confused with solid coconut oil.
Rinse your hazelnuts under tap water and pour away the brown soaking water down the drain. Soaking the hazelnuts helps you get more of the healthy fats out of them when they’re pulverized in the blender which will make your milk extra tasty.
Pour the softened hazelnuts into your blender with the 4½ cups of water.
Add maple syrup, salt and if desired optional ingredients and blend until very smooth.
If necessary, let the froth in the blender settle.
Pour the hazelnut milk into a strainer generously lined with cheesecloth placed over a bowl.
Hold the strainer over the bowl until the liquid has stopped flowing out.
Gather the ends of the cheesecloth and squeeze carefully to get all of the delicious nut milk into the bowl.
Don’t throw out the hazelnut grounds. They are great to add to your cereal, or breakfast bowl, enjoy over yogurt, ice cream or eat right out of the jar. They are packed with protein and healthy fat.
Pour into a clean 1-litre mason jar with a lid.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Shake well upon use.
Drink on its own, enjoy in your tea or coffee and use in a smoothie.
*Note: You can have a pretty pink tweak to this recipe by adding 2 pitted black (or if necessary maraschino) cherries, ½“ cube of raw beet, and optional 1 tsp rosewater to the blender.
My favs in this list are hazelnut, hemp and oat milk. It’s easy and fun to create your own nutritious nut milk. All you need is a blender. Not only will you save a ton of money but you will be helping the planet since the cartons are not recyclable. These simple recipes are good for you and good for the planet!