Guide to plant milks
Our Nasty Vegan Super Shake tastes great just mixed with plain old water, but if you prefer to mix it with milk, this guide is designed to give you some helpful guidance.
Plant milk vs cow milk?
If you’re a fan of Nasty Vegan then chances are you’re already onboard with choosing plant milks rather than dairy, but just in case, let’s quickly summarise why diary milk should be avoided:
- Dairy milk produces nearly three times more greenhouse gas than any plant milk.
- Milk from cows has been connected to all sorts of health issues, including high cholesterol, acne and ovarian cancer.
- Milk production is incredibly punishing for cows, who are condemned to give birth each year in order to continually produce milk, while their calves are taken away within 24 hours of being born, causing huge levels of stress. What’s more, the ongoing milking process often leads to painful infections and lameness. This relentless cycle of pregnancy and milking sadly sees dairy cows have an average lifespan of just five years, compared to their natural lifespan of 15-20 years.
So, clearly, plant-based milk is the future! But with so many varieties, which one is best?
Which plant-based milk is best for the environment?
There are more plant milks on our supermarket shelves than ever, each with their own pros and cons. Below is our guide to making an environmentally aware choice:
- Almond milk: The production of almonds requires vast amounts of water, with 130 pints needed to produce a single glass of almond milk (according to research by the University of Oxford). So, a definite no-no.
- Coconut milk: Sadly, coconut milk is strongly linked to deforestation, due to coconut trees requiring a tropical climate. This has seen trees felled across the Philippines, Indonesia and India in order to meet global demand. If coconut milk is your variety of choice, please try and choose a brand that is Fair Trade.
- Hazelnut milk: Hazelnut milk is a great choice, as hazelnuts grow on trees (which remove CO2 from the atmosphere) and are pollinated by the wind rather than bees (removing demand on commercial honeybees).
- Oat milk: This is a great option, as oats can be grown in cooler climates such as Europe, the US and Canada, removing demand for deforestation in tropical climates. What’s more, the carbon footprint of oat production is one of the lowest of any plant milks.
- Rice milk: This option produces the most greenhouse gasses of all plant milks, largely due to the methane that’s created by the bacteria living in rice paddies. So, one to avoid if possible.
- Soy milk: Soy is packed full of protein, which is great, but its often an unpopular choice as it contains a high concentration of hormones and is also heavily linked to deforestation in the Amazon, with trees being felled to make way for soy plantations. For this reason, always try and get soy milk that uses organic soybeans grown in Europe, the US or Canada rather than the tropics.
Taking everything into account, our preference would be to go for hazelnut or oak milk.
The best plant-based milk brands
If you’re looking for brands to try, below are a few suggestions of popular choices:
- Good Hemp
- Koko Dairy Free
- Rude Health
Don’t forget that most supermarkets now offer own-brand plant milks too. Also, each of the brands will likely offer a sweetened and unsweetened version, so you can try and find the one that suits your taste palette. Once you’ve found one you like, trust us, you’ll never feel the need to go back to dairy.
One downside of plant-based milks is that some don’t mix well with tea and coffee, but there is a solution. There are now specialised tea and coffee brands out there designed specifically for use with plant milk, such as PG Tips Perfect with Dairy-Free tea bags. And of course, there’s plenty of hot drinks that are designed to be drunk without milk at all, such as peppermint tea, green tea, red bush tea and black coffee.
Health benefits of plant milk
People living a vegan lifestyle will know it can be hard to get enough essential vitamins such as B12 (usually found in meat, eggs and fish, and essential for boosting your immune system and preventing fatigue) and calcium (usually found in dairy products, and vital for building strong teeth and bones).
Thankfully, most plant milk products are fortified with the likes of B12 and calcium, so you’re not missing out on anything by not having dairy milk. And of course, if you use plant milk to mix with Nasty Vegan’s shakes, then you’re getting a great hit of vitamins and minerals from both our shake and the milk, so it’s a win-win.
Credits: Thanks to the Guardian and Veganuary for sources of information.