Every holiday I buy myself a gift, practical or for pleasure. This year I got to thinking about the numerous cartons of alternative milks I purchase for my family, not to mention the cost and how much waste I could reduce if I made my own. Alternative milks are rising in popularity due to health, animal welfare and our environment, but do we get the necessary nutrients from plant-based milks? Are they affordable?
One option is to purchase a machine: a nut-milk maker. The initial cost can be high (approximately $100 to $300), but the product is fresh and can be customized. Another option is to make your own by soaking soy, oats, or almonds followed by draining, blending, and straining. It may be time-consuming, but it’s worth the wait to know the source of the products.
If you’re thinking about making the switch to dairy-free, it’s essential to evaluate your overall diet if you decide to limit or avoid dairy to make sure you’re supplementing nutrients from other foods. Dairy-free milk can be protein-rich and fortified with calcium, D, B2, B12, or more with a bit of research. Whatever the desire – rice, soy, quinoa, oat, almond, coconut, cashew, flaxseed, or pea – it’s worth a try to nix the grocery purchases, except for the bulk nuts or grains. Access to composting is important too as residue will result.
That being said, dairy contains important nutrients for bone and muscle health. If making the switch to dairy-free is not something you’re interested in now, we are lucky to have a lot of local dairy farmers in Utah that do container refills and home delivery. You can still reduce your carbon footprint from milk and continue to consume dairy by supporting local agriculture! Maybe it’s time to start mixing up habitual routines in consideration of our planet as local agriculture and milk alternatives are improving every day.
By Mary Closser