Why I use plant based milks
The issues around milk from intensively farmed cows are widely discussed. This is not a post around the pros and cons of intensive dairy (or non intensive dairy) versus plant based milks. I had been cutting down my intake of diary based milk due to some of these issues, and the plain convenience of plant milk being stored in the cupboard. Then I developed a form of eye inflammation blepharitis and worked out that for me it seemed to be exacerbated by dairy products.
Some of the issues with plant based milks
Information in this section from Ethical Consumer Magazine EC169 Nov / Dec 2017.
Soya – although most soya is grown for animal consumption there are the issues of labour rights, land use and GM from South American soya. Look for soya grown in Europe organically to avoid these issues.
Coconut – issues around workers rights, extreme poverty, expansion into pristine habitat, mono crop farming, biodiversity. There is no Fair Trade option and Ethical Consumer magazine suggest not purchasing coconut milk.
Almond – 4.5 litres of almond milk takes 4,182 litres of water to make. More than the other plant milks. 80% of almonds come from drought stricken California, where honey bees are trucked in to pollinate the almonds and suffer from the mono culture diet and insecticide poisoning. Choose organic almond milk to avoid some of these issues.
Rice – it takes 554.6 litres of water to grow 4.5 litres of rice milk. Rice paddies are responsible for 10% of agricultural emissions. Choose plant milks grown closer to home.
Additionally as someone trying to reduce household waste Terapaks were becoming a huge part of our recyclable waste. They are part of the items I choose to take to recycling in a different borough because ours doesn’t take them! It is always better to save energy by not using something than to use energy recycling it.
I realised thanks to the article mentioned above in Ethical Consumer magazine that it was super easy, super cheap, and super sustainable to make plant milk from British organic oats. No shipping carbon footprint, no workers rights issues, no habitat destruction, no excessive water use, no wildlife killing and no single use packaging.
Check out my video showing how.
My recipe is as follows, adapted from P22 of EC Magazine noted above;
- approx 3/4 cup / 75g of British organic porridge oats
- 4 cups / 750ml of water
- drop of Fairtrade vanilla essence
- Soak the oats overnight, or for a few hours, so they are well covered with lots of water.
- Drain the liquid and discard.
- Place the oats, water and vanilla in a blender and wizz for around 30 seconds.
- Depending on the speed and strength of your blender it might need longer. It also may need straining. Mine leaves almost nothing behind so I don’t bother. If you do strain, add the remnants to your porridge so nothing is wasted.
- Pour into a suitable bottle or container. The liquid will separate so you need to give it a good shake before you use it each time. This makes around 1 litre of oat milk.
- Adjust water and oats to find a thickness you like. On my first attempt it came out like cream!
Most plant milks are around £2 – £2.50 depending on brand and where you get it. But lets assume you are able to shop in a local independent store where oat milk is £2 a litre.
The oats I buy are £2 per kilo, so 75g costs around 15p. A drop of vanilla essence is negligible and I have this at home anyway. Let’s say I use 2 litres of bought oat milk a week, that is around £208 per year. And 104 Tetrapak cartons. VERSUS £15.60 a year for oats I can buy in my own packaging.
Saving of £192.40
Calorie & nutrient comparison per 200ml
- Whole cow milk 126 calories
- Semi skimmed cow milk 92 calories
- Oat (bought) 92 calories
- Soya sweetened 86 calories
- Hemp 78 calories
- Oat (homemade) 60 calories
- Soya unsweetened 52 calories
- Almond unsweetened 48 calories
- Coconut (drink not tins for cooking with!) 44 calories
Note; bought plant based milks tend to be fortified with extra vitamins and minerals (calcium and vitamin D) to mimic those found naturally (or added) in cow milk. If you decide to make your own milk you need to ensure your diet is suitably diverse to get these vitamins and minerals form elsewhere.