Almond Agriculture Is Bad for Bees—Try These Other Plant-Based Milks
The popularity of almond milk comes at an environmental cost, but there’s a range of other tasty and nutritious alt milks on the market
For those who are lactose-intolerant or opt for a plant-based diet, the alternative milk boom of the past couple decades has been a welcome development. It started with soy and rice milks, which were for a time the only options on the market. Then almond milk descended on the scene and became wildly popular, only for the nutritious nut to be scapegoated as a substantial contributor to California’s 2014-2015 drought (80% of the world’s almonds are grown in the Golden State, and the widely exported nuts are a thirsty crop). The drought thankfully ended and almond milk consumption continued to soar. However, we were recently dismayed to learn of the nut’s hidden cost: a massive mortality rate among almond-pollinating honeybees, caused by the use of pesticides and the spread of disease in almond tree groves. While the almond growing industry is committed to expansive research efforts to promote honeybee health, it’s helpful to know of alternatives to almonds to help mitigate the issue.
So what’s a plant-based milk drinker to do? We’ve rounded up our favorite plant-based milks that aren’t sourced from almonds, yet are just as—if not more—delicious.
Cashew milk has been touted as a tasty alternative to almond, but we prefer the richer flavor of macadamia. It’s super-creamy, foams up well, and the mac nuts are sourced via low-impact farming methods.
The alt milk du jour among the barista crowd isn’t sourced from a nut, but rather a grain. No longer reserved for warming bowls of oatmeal or raisin-flecked cookies, oats surprisingly produce a tasty beverage that works well in smoothies, golden milk, and more. While it’s not as high in protein as nut or soy milk, it’s rich in fiber. It’s also (for the most part) gluten-free. Here are our editors’ top picks:
Pretty much the O.G. dairy alternative, soy milk has been in use since the ’70s. While it’s not quite as creamy and frothy as nut milks, this plant-based option is packed with protein.
Hemp Seed Milk
Protein-filled hemp seeds have taken the wellness and nutrition world by storm in recent years, ranking as a popular topper for smoothie bowls, salads and the like. Now they’re being milked as a plant-based beverage, although we caution you to use it mixed into smoothies and such rather than drinking it straight (it’s not as naturally neutral and sweet as other alt milks).
The latest plant-based milk on the market comes from a surprising source: peas! Also surprising is that it’s very high in protein and calcium, and it requires astoundingly less water to grow than a certain nut.