Our household stopped drinking cow’s milk several years ago. I jumped on the bulletproof coffee bandwagon, and then when good coconut oil was difficult to come by, I stopped adding anything and drank my coffee black.
Then when my daughter began feeling ill after her morning cereal, we switched to toast for breakfast. Now we utilise our almond meal from making almond milk and use it to make muffins for breakfast!
Someone once said to me: 'How do you milk them? They are so small!'
It's much easier than this.
But why switch to almond milk?
Every household has its own reasons.
I am not against cow’s milk, but I do prefer alternatives when available. This comes from a feeling of unease related to the ethics of production (there are a good number of other ethically dubious foods I continue to enjoy for now. When did food become so complicated? If this tricky topic interests you, check out the Foods Future Summit).
There have been a number of studies done to investigate the environmental impact of plant milks and cow’s milk. There is no one-size-fits-all result.
This article cites a study that concludes that cow’s milk is clearly worse for the environment in the production phase, but due to the transport cost of fresh almond and fresh soy milks, alternatives are not exactly environmentally friendly if you live a long way from the production facility – which most of us do. Most of the plant milks consumed are not fresh, and so the transport component is less (there’s no refrigeration and they’re less time sensitive), but the Tetra Pak packaging must be considered.
Adding to the complexity, the environmental factors also depend on where the product is grown. Most of the world’s almond production is now in California (82%!), which is currently experiencing a drought. Redirecting precious water resources for the very thirsty almond production is devastating for the region. It has been reported that large parts of California have been sinking owing to reduced water table levels. Perhaps there may be a more suitable location for growing almonds, or you can choose another plant milk.
BBC article using data from Poore & Nemecek
Whilst still not as much are dairy, almond milk uses a _lot_ of water.
Cow’s milk has many health benefits, with calcium being the most obvious. My health check-ups have not shown any deficiency in calcium, so there are many other dietary sources. However, I have been deficient in vitamin D, which your body gets from sunlight, and milk and cereals are often fortified with it.
If you buy milk – for example, Clover Organic Whole Milk ($68 per 946ml), Kowloon Dairy Australian Whole Milk ($35), Trappist Dairy Fresh Milk ($26) or Almond Breeze ($33) – 100 grams of almonds (which make 1L of almond milk) works out to be $18 if you buy online at iHerb.
All these factors can be controlled by making your own
We use a ChufaMix nut milk maker, but you can use a nut milk bag, which is much cheaper. The Chufamix is available in Hong Kong at JustGreen for an eye-watering $768 (I received it as a Christmas present); it took roughly 39 litres of almond milk to come out ahead (it still looks as good as new though!).
Check out these 5 almond milk recipes for use with a nut milk bag
Recipe: Almond Milk made with a ChufaMix
- hand blender
- Chufamix nut milk maker
- 100g almonds (more or less)
- 2 dates (vary to taste)
- 1L water
- Soak the almonds for up to 12 hours – this “activates” them (they will sprout after being soaked), and the resulting milk has a stronger flavour. I sometimes soak them for only 30 min if I am making the milk fresh in the morning. After soaking, the water looks gross, and you will need to rinse the almonds afterwards.
- Fill your Chufamix container with 1L water and put in the sieve. Seed 2 dates and then add to the sieve for sweetness.
- Add your soaked and rinsed almonds and blend for 1 min or so.
- Use the Chufamix pestle to compact the almond meal and squeeze out all the “milk”.
- Store in the fridge in a sealable container for up to 3 days. It is not pasteurised, so it needs to be shaken prior to use.
- Optional: dry the almond meal in the oven at 80°C or so and store until you are ready to blitz it for making almond flour. Coming soon - recipe for the very best carrot cake you will ever eat.
That’s it! Almond milk is incredibly easy to make. You can also make all sorts of vegan milks with a ChufaMix, and it comes with a recipe book.
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