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Milk Makes Me Nuts

Published on
11 January 2024
Chef Silvano
Chef Silvano

In the quest for sustainable and health-conscious living, Milk Makes Me Nuts. Many have turned to nut-based alternatives to dairy products. These plant-based substitutes offer a lactose-free and vegan-friendly option for those looking to reduce their dairy intake. Among the plethora of choices, five nuts stand out for their popularity in producing dairy alternatives: almonds, cashews, coconuts, hazelnuts, and macadamias.

The Nutty Side of Dairy Alternatives:

A Balanced View on Nut-Based Milks


Almond Drink

Almond drink is perhaps the most widely recognised dairy alternative. However, it’s also a thirsty crop. To produce just 1 liter of almond milk, it’s estimated that around 371 liters of water are used, making it one of the more water-intensive options. The majority of the world’s almonds come from California, a state that has faced significant droughts, raising concerns about the sustainability of almond production.


The Creamy Cashew

Cashews provide a rich and creamy texture, making them ideal for dairy-free cheeses and milks. It takes about 270 liters of water to produce 1 liter of cashew drink. While less water-intensive than almonds, cashews often come from places like India and Vietnam, where labor issues and environmental concerns have been raised.


The Tropical Coconut

Coconut milk, with its tropical origin, offers a distinct flavor and is often used in cooking and baking. To produce one liter of coconut milk, approximately 250 liters of water are needed. Coconuts are typically grown in diverse ecosystems, and when done responsibly, can have a lower environmental impact compared to some other nut crops.


The Hazelnut’s Charm

Hazelnuts are another option, particularly popular in Europe. They require about 1,270 liters of water to produce 1 liter of hazelnut drink. Hazelnuts are often grown in Turkey, which dominates the market, and the cultivation practices there can have varying impacts on the environment.


The Luxurious Macadamia

Macadamia milk is a more luxurious choice, with a rich, buttery flavor. It’s also water-intensive, needing around 2,500 liters of water per 1 liter of macadamia drink. The majority of macadamias are grown in Australia, where water resources are also a concern.

The Monoculture Menace

The monoculture of these nuts can have significant environmental impacts. Large-scale plantations often replace diverse ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, and can lead to soil degradation and increased pesticide use. It’s crucial to consider these factors when evaluating the environmental footprint of nut-based dairy alternatives.

Weighing the Environmental Impact

So, do nut-based alternatives really help the environment? The answer isn’t black and white. While they offer benefits like lower greenhouse gas emissions and no animal welfare concerns, their environmental impact in terms of water use and monoculture effects cannot be ignored. It’s about finding a balance and making informed choices.

The Bigger Picture: Consumption vs. Population

When it comes to planetary problems, both meat consumption and the growing human population play roles. The high demand for meat has led to deforestation, biodiversity loss, and high greenhouse gas emissions. However, the sheer number of people on the planet also puts pressure on resources. It’s a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach, including reducing meat consumption, improving agricultural practices, and considering the impact of our population growth.

In Conclusion

Nut-based dairy alternatives offer a plant-based option for those looking to reduce their dairy consumption. While they have their own environmental impacts, they can be part of a sustainable diet when produced and consumed responsibly. As for the broader questions about meat consumption and population growth, it’s clear that both factors contribute to environmental challenges. The key lies in making conscious choices, whether it’s about what we eat or how we plan our families, always striving to tread lightly on our planet for the sake of future generations.