Vegan milk alternatives have existed in America for over 100 years, but never have they been more popular and readily-available than today. With every passing year, more and more Americans are ditching dairy and eating their cereal with soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, hemp milk, cashew milk or rice milk - to name just a few. These non-dairy beverages or “mylks” have become so popular that even fast food chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and McCafe are adding them to the menu. Why so much demand? It might have something to do with the fact that approximately 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. That’s more than 5 billion people! This impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, can result in abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, or diarrhea beginning 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating dairy. Sound familiar? If you regularly experience any of these symptoms, it could very well be your body’s inflammatory response to milk products. Unaddressed, such “little annoyances” can exacerbate to become far bigger problems like leaky gut, IBS and Crohn's Disease.
Another reason so many people are going dairy-free is the environmental impact of the dairy industry. As of 2019, food production is responsible for one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy farming is absolutely a contributor to this number, as cows produce large quantities of methane gas. Manure management and the production of cattle feed also releases nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, another cause for concern is the use of water in dairy farming. It takes an average of 628 liters of water to produce only 1 liter of cow's milk. Plant-based alternatives use a fraction of that.
I don’t have a study to back it up, but I suspect that curiosity and the desire to experiment with our food is another driving factor here. With so many dairy-free alternatives to try, why not give them a shot? And while most of us will never have our own cow to milk everyday, we do all have the ability to create fresh, plant-based milks from scratch! At Nüssli118°, our go-to is cashew milk made from organic, activated cashew nuts. That’s the creamy base for our famous cashew smoothies and chia puddings! To make your own at home, simply soak cashews in filtered water overnight, drain, and then blend them with 3 to 4X the amount of new water. You can kick up the flavor by blending in some whole dates, a pinch of salt or a dash of vanilla, too. Just have fun with it! And feel great knowing you’ve made a healthy choice for both your body and the environment.