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What Mic.com doesn’t want you to know about almond milk

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Every day someone attempts to convince us that the dairy industry is still deserving of our blind support. But whether it’s the FAO’s World School Milk Day campaign to hook children on the white stuff or the Bloomberg report on dairy cooperatives killing cows more quickly to drive up the cost of sales, we are being bombarded with corruption that’s pretty hard to ignore. So it takes a special kind of person to turn around and villainize the non-dairy alternatives on the market as being the real lesser of two evils for people to face. Mic.com did just that, and published an article called “Almond milk isn’t the silver bullet you think it is. Even worse, it’s ravaging the planet.” I have to admit, reading it made me lose my shit. And that’s not even because they already tired this anti-vegan bullshit once before.

Author Melissa Kravitz decides to take up a personal vendetta on almond milk, and uses two arguments to persuade readers to abandon favouring it. First, she calls it “environmentally unfriendly.” Then, she hones back in on the individual with a section called “doesn’t do a body much good.” From top to bottom, Kravitz conveniently excludes the environmental and personal effects of drinking cow’s milk in favour of assuring everyone almond milk is chalky, unpleasant, and mostly water. So also forgets about cows. Let’s debunk this, shall we?

We can breeze past the part where disses hip restaurants and Starbucks (a moot point we can agree on), and we’ll even disregard the part where she asks someone from the National Milk Producers Federation if you can get milk from an almond (hilarious). Her first real argument for skipping out on almond milk is that there’s almond pulp leftover from making the beverage. The “excessive waste” that “no one wants to eat” is first related to sawdust by a popular chef, before later being attributed to wicked body scrubs. So new real argument from team dairy there, since taste is subjective and humans have already ingeniously found a solution for the harmless, edible, and fun-to-rub-on-our-body byproducts.

Next, we get hit with the hard stuff. Kravitz pulls up some stats that say nearly 100% of the almonds we use are produced in California, and that at 1.1 gallons of water to produce per almond, almond milk drinkers are single-handedly sending the city in to drought. The same Mother Jones article they reference to back those stats up lists a larger water footprint for broccoli, walnuts, lettuce, and tomatoes (but those don’t compete with dairy sales, so we can carry on purchasing them). And while we’re referencing the hard hitting facts of Mother Jones, another of their articles shows that if one glass of almond milk takes 23 gallons of water to produce, one glass of traditional dairy takes 30 (a commonly argued stat that sometimes goes as high as 880 gallons of water per 1 gallon of milk). That article goes further to point out that yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and butter will go on to triple those amounts of gallons of water to produce because of their dairy content. Since the California Milk Advisory Board takes credit for 20% of the U.S milks supply as the #1 milk producer, maybe if we care about California and the drought it’s facing, we’ll consider leaving dairy off of our grocery lists instead. Even the Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Water Footprint report on crops says coffee beans are more taxing, but go ahead and dump some cow’s milk in to your morning brew, you’re saving the planet if you skip almond milk? Still no score on the board for ditching almond milk in favour of cow’s.

You know what’s been forgotten here? The footprint of the plants we feed to cows to make milk. Alfalfa, in particular. Not to victimize everyone’s favourite sandwich sprout, but this choice feed, by far, uses the most water for a single agricultural product in the state of California (about 15 percent, or more) according to the Department of Land Air and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis. Another few gallons could be spared if we further veganized our plates, and took animal products out completely. I mean, it might not be as impactful as ditching almond milk, but it’s worth a shot. And if we want to go further, we can look at the land used to raise cows, the waste they produce and the water it contaminates, the greenhouse gas emissions they create, and the rest of the environment the dairy industry at large disrupts. It’s not just water, folks, and each and every aspect points to dairy as the ultimate evil. 

Towards the bottom half of this article, Kravitz appeals to people’s waistlines and goes for the argument that 1% milk (one single variety of dairy) has less fat and more protein per serving than almond milk (one single variety of non-dairy milk). No doubt this opens up a debate that I could spend years on. Does the possibility of metabolic crash and sugar cravings really scare you more than increased risk of cancer, weight gain, and antimicrobial resistance? Does the low percentage of almonds and high percentage of water in the beverage gross you out more than the fecal coliforms swimming in your cereal bowl? Sunflower lecithin might be a scary enough word, but a quick google search would teach you that it’s just a fatty substance obtained by dehydrating a sunflower seed and separating it into three parts: the oil, gum, and other solids. I don’t recommend looking up what mastitis adds to milk, though. Again, we can’t give you any points here, as almond milk doesn’t pretend to be a superfood. After all, most people aren’t drinking any kind of milk alone to meet their daily macros. I think the score is two-zero.

I can forgive the environmental ignorance. I can even let go of the health claims. What I cannot ignore is that Melissa Kravitz completely neglects the moral aspect of choosing non-dairy milks over cow’s, and the fact that animals are killed to make one product and not the other. Almond milk doesn’t require the forced insemination of a female, or the forced separation from her resulting baby. Almond milk doesn’t cause the suffering of a living being day in and day out, until her body gives out from exhaustion. And almond milk doesn’t produce a carcass that can be shipped off and sold to the highest bidder for slaughter and the next level of animal-product production that is also contributing to the mess we’re in. Almonds aren’t responsible for this vicious chain of breeding, killing, and breeding again for our own selfish pleasures. Even if cow’s milk promised to save California from drought instead of adding to it, it wouldn’t take in to account all the lives it costs. There is no figure, no percentage, and no value we can truly place on the torture, murder, or use of a living being.

Cow’s milk isn’t the silver bullet you think it is. Even worse, it’s ravaging the planet. And what mic.com and other dairy promoters don’t want you to know is that almond milk is better for cows, the planet, and people. Don’t buy in to the propaganda, go vegan. Always choose products that don’t exploit animals and reap the environmental and personal benefits along the way.

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  • vegan truth seeker

    again, humans are emotional and not rational beings!

    if you want to convert people into ethical vegans the best way to do it is to shock the hell out of them with footage of animals being tortured and slaughtered!

    an image, or a video, is worth a thousand words, or something like that…

    after that people will educate themselves on veganism… that’s how it happened with me.

    this is war, and if you want to keep playing nice then don’t be surprised if the animal industry is winning in every front!

    • Alex McMillan

      Well, you’re certainly not rational. Are you blind to the fact that you’re advocating the use of propaganda? Combined with your use of the verb “convert,” you seem less a truth seeker and more a zealot, flailing your arms and waving signs depicting the torture of animals all in a mad attempt to have people think exactly as you do. Forcibly denying people the freedom to think for themselves by indoctrinating them with propaganda is not only precisely where truth ends, it is to dangerously walk in the footsteps of Nazi Germany or the Catholic Church.

  • Bernadette

    What really grinds my gears is all of the articles I’ve read that diss almond milk because it has little protein compared to dairy milk, as if you need milk to get your protein.

    • So true. Milk substitutes are mostly about having something to put in your coffee and on your cereal. Vegans have plenty of other sources of protein!

  • Alex McMillan

    The problem with this article in particular, and with many vegans in general (and before you snap at this red herring, consider that I was raised a vegetarian from birth in the 1980s–how many vegans can claim that?), is that their arguments tend to be distastefully moralising. Rarely is the “milk question” considered objectively (i.e. that it is both unnatural and unnecessary for a species to drink the milk of another species continuously from birth until death); instead, as is the case here, the personal overwhelms the political and the article quickly devolves into a finger-wagging op-ed much in need of an editor. The fact that the author of this piece keeps score of her presumed moral victory is enough to make me want to drown myself in a pool of milk, almond or otherwise.

  • Ryan Phillips

    This was banned by facebook, but nicely shows how cows are treated by the dairy industry.


  • I was getting so sick of hearing about almond milk and water waste that I made a video about this. I can’t believe how manipulative news outlets are when it comes to dairy (well, actually I can believe it, sadly). It’s sad that there is so little journalistic integrity these days. It doesn’t take a genius to look at the inputs and outputs and realize that dairy farms decimate the environment, torture living beings and use tons of water. Almonds use more water than some crops. I see a massive difference there! As soon as you look into the water pollution dangers of dairy farms, the two alternatives aren’t even in the same ballpark. And then there’s the antibiotics…Of course, that’s not even considering that the dairy industry is probably the most horrific example of animal exploitation in the history of humanity.

  • Clarissa Thompson

    First of all, kudos Alex McMillan! Secondly, I am a user of almond milk because of its low sugar content & neutral flavour and I appreciate the facts presented in this article setting the record straight on the impact of almonds on the environment compared with dairy milk. As soon as I heard the hype I smelled a rat.
    Lastly, I do my best to eat little dairy and meat in order to have a well balanced diet alongside great vegetable based food options as we, as humans evolved as omnivores, are built to primarily eat vegetables.
    I do not feel a moral obligation to stop eating animal products but I do feel that farmers are responsible with providing them with a healthy, happy life before being sacrificed for my plate or drinking glass. Those who choose to eat animal products should do so with more reverence to the life that is nourishing them and need to consume less.
    To deter others from animal products via propaganda has shown to be the path of zealots and I don’t think scare tactics would be any more effective than pictures of diseased lungs on cigarette packs. If we want food animals to be treated humanely we need to encourage people to respect animals by showing responsible farmers and insisting that all animals be raised in that fashion. We also need to encourage delicious cooking of vegetable based foods without hyping the “vegetarian-ness” of them and just show them as good, yummy healthy food. Let’s not be gimmicky, let’s just eat well and be reverent.

  • StrongBelwas

    Also, many non-vegans like myself just prefer the taste of almond milk to dairy milk. And one point that I don’t understand is the issue of almond milk being mostly water. Literally every drink is mostly water. Whole milk is 85% water, skim is 95% water.

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