Maybe more so than ever, consumers are willing these days to entirely opt out of products they don't feel comfortable buying. Not all of it is about boycotts — sometimes we're just looking for a more ethical alternative. Dairy has become a huge market for that, with new non-cow milks available from seemingly every weird grain and nut known to humankind.
There are lots of reasons for wanting to avoid dairy, from lactose intolerance to fears about what factory farming does to the environment and the climate. If you're trying to find the right milk for you while still maintaining an ethical supply chain, The Guardian has broken down the pros and cons of the most commonly available vegan options. The list takes into account everything from water usage to greenhouse gases to how much strain a crop puts on bee populations. If all that sounds a bit too overwhelming, don't worry — taste and price matter here too.
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Some products, like hazelnut or flax milk, score high on experience but aren't as widely available. Others, like rice milk, produce a surprising amount of pollution along the way. While perennial favorite soy milk comes out well ahead (its reputation for messing with drinkers' hormones is vastly overstated), the winner is a relative newcomer: oat milk. One of its key features? We're already growing so many oats for animal feed that production doesn't disrupt any ongoing agriculture.
That said, according to one expert, any plant-based milk is a step in the right direction: "If you're going with plant milk instead of animal milk, you've already addressed most of the environmental problems that your animal milk habit was causing."