How sustainable are milk alternatives really?

Drinking cow’s milk is now frowned upon: for health or ethical reasons or because of climate protection. There has to be an alternative. But are plant-based milk alternatives really better for the climate? Depends on!

If you want or have to do without milk, there are many alternatives. There should be something for every taste, whether rice, oats, soy, almond, pure, with a chocolate or vanilla flavor, the variety is almost overwhelming. But are we really doing something good for the climate if we drink plant-based products instead of cow’s milk?

An overview of the ecological balance of the popular alternatives

Oat milk :Oats are grown in Europe. He is at home here and used to the conditions, so he does not have to be sprayed and does not need excessive water. Another advantage of domestic cultivation: Long transports are no longer necessary. The grain also impresses with its mild taste. Oats also provide fiber and minerals. Some manufacturers enrich the oat milk with calcium and vitamins. Some, however, also contain sugar so that it tastes sweeter.   

Soy drink :Soy is a hotly debated topic. Because soy contains plant-based hormones that could affect the human hormonal balance, and because soy is also grown on a large scale in South America and thus leads to the deforestation of the rainforest and pollutes the soil and groundwater.  

Both are hardly relevant for soy drinks. Soy contains so-called isoflavones, which could also work in the body. However, hardly any soy is consumed in this country, so only very small amounts are consumed. If you want to be sure, you better clarify this with your doctor. The second argument can also be refuted. According to the  Albert Schweizer Foundation  , most of the soybeans for the drink come from Europe. Soy is often grown here in organic quality, so that it is more sustainable cultivation without genetic engineering. In this respect, soy cultivation definitely has a positive balance here.  

Rice drink :A lot of water is needed to grow rice. In addition, methane gases are produced during cultivation and fertilizers pollute the waters. All points that have an unfavorable effect on the climate. Rice milk tastes sweet, but contains hardly any valuable nutrients. 

Almond drink :In terms of taste, the almond milk can definitely score: It tastes mild and slightly nutty. But mostly the almonds come from California and because of the dry climate there they need a lot of water to grow. Then there is also the transport. In terms of environmental balance, the almond milk cannot score. 


For those who do not drink cow’s milk, herbal substitutes are a good taste alternative. But as with many products, it is worth taking a closer look. Take a look at where the raw materials come from and which other ingredients have been added to the milk / drinks. If you are primarily concerned with protecting the climate, oat milk is a good alternative to cow’s milk . Preferably in organic quality with oats from Europe.

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