There are various reasons for choosing vegan milk instead of milk. There are different reasons why people choose vegan milk, such as low calories, lactose intolerance, and animal freedom. Recently, more people seem to choose vegan milk due to the problem of the factory-style livestock industry and environment that occurs during the milk production process. I think it is very meaningful to choose vegan milk for sustainable consumption.
If the value of “sustainability” is important in purchasing a product, there are so many things to consider. Until the release of various vegan milk on the market, the representative food that replaced milk was surely soy milk. I was always cautious when I bought soy milk. ‘Do you use GMO beans? (Domestic soybeans?) , do they include food additives?’ Because it’s natural to want to buy healthy products.
According to an analysis of a research paper by Oxford University’s research team, the land area, water consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions needed to produce vegan milk produce fewer resources and greenhouse gas emissions than conventional milk production.
In terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land-use areas, milk is ahead of vegan milk. With the exception of milk, the share of vegan milk is similar. But the water use sector was different. The amount of water used to produce almond milk seems to be quite high.
It is only ‘green compared to milk’ but cannot be ignored by absolute figures. According to data on almond supply and water consumption, most of the articles were about California. It is an area that produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Excessive almond production is directly linked to the survival of honeybees as well as water shortage problems. Generally, honeybees are needed to grow almonds to hydrate the crops. The deal between beekeepers and almond orchards is concluded, and as the almond industry expands, the number of honeybees is also put in more to keep up with it. Although pesticides are used in all crops, almonds use 35 mlb a year, more absolute than other crops.
For the first time in 2006, a record number of bees disappeared or died. The main culprit is a type of insecticide called “neonics” that has had a fatal effect on bees. There are many chemicals that are not classified as toxic, even though they can make honeybees sick and weaken the immune system. This will prevent them from enduring the winter and exterminate the entire colony. Pesticides used in the cultivation of almonds have a fatal effect on the disease and death of honeybees.
Even if it is not necessarily related to the almond industry, the threat of bees becoming extinct has been a much-debated issue. Honeybees play an important role in the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature as a medium for helping plants reproduce. Currently, honeybees are declining worldwide, and major causes include insecticide exposure, habitat loss, and climate change. The causes are also intertwined with each other, making it difficult to clarify the causal relationship. To solve these problems, almond orchard and manufacturing enterprises are working to develop sustainable farming methods, composting processes. However, consumers also need to keep an eye on such corporate efforts.
Recently, it refers to oat milk as the most eco-friendly vegan milk. As you can see in the graph above, the amount of water used to produce oat milk is much less than that of almond milk. It is not encouraging to drink oat milk, but it is more fundamentally important to recognize its production process and mechanism whatever it consumes. Also, choosing a product with a certification mark can be one of the solution. For example, Haagen-Dazs ice cream is producing products with Bee Better Seal. I think sustainable development is possible when we are always on the lookout for the negative effects that exist on the growth plane.
“‘Like sending bees to war’: the deadly truth behind your almond milk obsession”, The Guardian, 8 Jan, 2020.
Poore& Nemecek(2018), Science. Additional calculations, J.Poore
Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs, “Climate chagne: Which vegan milk is best? , BBC News, 22 Feb 2019.