How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative

October 1, 2018 by  
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Scientists agree that the dairy industry has an overall negative affect on the environment. For starters, it takes a lot of land, fertilizer and water to grow food for the cows. It also takes a lot of energy to process raw milk , package it and deliver the goods to supermarkets around the world. Then, there is the fact that cows generate loads of methane, which is more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. With the dairy industry disrupting the environment, more people are turning to alternative sources to meet their dietary needs. There are a variety of milk alternatives on the market these days, including almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, oat milk, soy milk and pea protein milk — each with its pros and cons. If you are considering ditching cow’s milk for something more sustainable, here is a quick guide to the best milk alternatives and how they impact the environment . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Almond Milk Almonds feature a plethora of health benefits, including good fats, flavonoids and protein. Almond milk, on the other hand, does not include the same amount of nutrients. In fact, many of the benefits found in almonds are not present in almond milk, because it only contains about 2 percent of almonds. While it might not compare to regular almonds, this milk does not have a lot of calories and is usually fortified with additional calcium and vitamins. That said, you have to be careful when purchasing almond milk, because many products are not fortified and provide little nutritional value. Although almond milk seems like a great milk alternative, its environmental impact is fairly high. The biggest problem with almonds is that they require a lot of water to produce. On average, it takes a little over a gallon of water to grow a single almond. Even worse, many almond growers are located in California , which has suffered extreme droughts over the past few years. Related: DIY vegan almond feta cheese Coconut Milk Like almond milk, coconut milk does not feature as many nutritional benefits as you might think. Aside from being low in calories, coconut milk features little on the vitamin and protein front. It also has a watery texture and does not pair well with other foods. Fortunately, companies fortify coconut milk to make it healthier, making it a viable milk alternative. Another positive aspect of coconut milk is that it has a very low environmental impact. The farms are eco-friendly and use small amounts of water to produce coconuts. Coconut trees can also filter out carbon dioxide, which is great for combating greenhouse gases . The transportation and processing are the only environmental impacts to consider in the production of coconuts. Rice Milk Rice is farmed all over the globe and requires a lot of water to produce. The plus side is that there are new varieties that make farming rice less damaging to the environment. The downside is that a lot of modern varieties are genetically modified, which many countries have deemed unsafe. There is also the risk of arsenic contamination in rice paddies. When it comes to taste and texture, rice milk is about as close as you can get to cow’s milk. It is naturally sweet and pairs well with cereal or cookies. It is a little more watery than traditional milk, but its sweet flavor makes it a good milk alternative. Rice milk is also good for people who suffer from lactose or nut allergies, and it can be fortified to include more vitamins and calcium. It is, however, low in protein. Related: DIY gluten-free flours with a coffee grinder Hemp Milk There are a lot of health benefits associated with hemp milk. This milk contains plenty of protein and important fatty acids. These fats are good for improving the cardiovascular system, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and fortifying skin. The one downside to hemp milk is that a lot of the nutrients are stripped away in the production process, although plenty still remain to make this a healthy milk alternative. As far as the environment is concerned, hemp production is actually quite eco-friendly. This plant is hardy, meaning less pesticides and sprays are needed to combat weeds. Hemp also helps fight global warming by filtering out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Just about every part of the hemp plant is usable, resulting in less waste than other plants on this list. Oat Milk Oats have long been used to fight bad cholesterol, and these same nutrients are present in oak milk. The only catch is that you have to consume a handful of servings every day to get the benefits. While oat milk also contains B vitamins, it does not have as much protein and minerals as other milk alternatives. There are companies, however, that fortify oat milk, which adds in extra vitamins. Like most plant-based milks, it takes a lot of energy to turn oats into milk. Oats, however, contribute less carbon to the atmosphere than other plants and require less water to grow. For example, it takes six times as much water to grow almonds than it does oats. This lessens the environmental hazards in the oat industry, making it a sustainable milk alternative. Soy Milk The nutritional value of soy milk is close to cow’s milk. It has plenty of macronutrients, carbohydrates and fat. The main difference is that it does not have large concentrations of iodine, B vitamins, calcium or lactose. Soy is a plant product, so sugar is added to make it sweeter (there are unsweetened options on the market). The main downside to soy, however, is its negative environmental impact. Soy requires massive chunks of land and pesticides to produce. This crop is also genetically modified to better withstand various growing conditions and combat pests. There are large areas of the Amazon rainforest that are being destroyed in order to grow soy. If you think soy is a viable alternative to traditional milk in your diet, consider purchasing organic brands that are produced only in the U.S. Pea Protein Milk With the amount of protein per glass matching cow’s milk, pea protein milk is a healthy alternative to dairy. It also boasts enough omega-3s and calcium to rival traditional milk. Unsweetened options contain a fraction of the sugars found in milk, but the chalky, flour-like taste of pea protein milk will leave many choosing a sweetened option. Still, this amount of protein in an alternative milk is hard to come by. Better yet, pea protein milk is a great option for eco-conscious consumers. Peas can often grow without irrigation and are easily rotated by farmers, naturally fixing nitrogen in soil and reducing the need for artificial fertilizers. Growing peas requires up to six times less water than almonds, and this milk alternative has a much smaller carbon footprint than dairy. Via Sierra Club , Grist , Huffington Post  and NPR Images via  Adrienne Leonard , Nathan Dumlao , Vegan Feast Catering , Raw Pixel ,  Nikolai Chernichenko and Shutterstock

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How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative

A couple converts an old prison bus into a criminally beautiful tiny home

October 1, 2018 by  
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Riding on a prison bus is probably not something most people would like to do for an extended period of time, but when Ben and Meag Poirier saw a retired 1989 Chevy B6P for sale, they knew they could turn it into their dream home. The ambitious couple worked on the 31-foot-long, retired prison bus for two years, resulting in an ultra cozy, solar-powered tiny home on wheels lovingly named The Wild Drive . When the Poiriers purchased the prison bus , its dilapidated state clearly demonstrated its past as a prison vehicle. Complete with three locking prison cage doors and bars on the windows, the bus even had a 12-gauge shotgun shell hidden in one of the walls when the couple purchased it. After gutting much of the interior, they turned to Ben’s experience as a former manager of a reclaimed lumber company for design guidance. Using as many repurposed materials as possible, they began to renovate the space from top to bottom. Most of the flooring, paneling, countertops and furnishings were made out of reclaimed wood. Related: Family of five moves from a 2,100-square-foot-house to a beautifully renovated school bus According to the couple, their proudest DIY project was the bathtub/shower installation made from a single reclaimed southern yellow pine floor joist found in an old shipyard. Ben removed all of the metal from the joist, cut it into two lengths and used a wood mizer to split it into boards. The panels were then kiln dried and put together using pocket screws and waterproof adhesive epoxy. The interior design shows the couple’s love of DIY projects, but their favorite feature of the tiny home is the miniature wood-burning stove. At the heart of the living space, the stove warms up the entire bus, creating a cozy atmosphere during the winter months. Although they managed to save on the renovation by using reclaimed materials wherever possible, they did allow for a few practical indulgences. They spent more than $3,000 on an off-grid system, which is comprised of solar panels , an inverter and a battery. The lights, refrigerator, fans, charging station and kitchen appliances all run on solar power. The couple knew that they would be living on the road for extended periods of time in remote areas, so having energy independence was an invaluable investment. Ben and Meag Poirier are currently traveling in their solar-powered bus, and they post updates of their adventures on their Instagram page . + The Wild Drive Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Rachel Halsey Photography and Meagan Poirier

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A couple converts an old prison bus into a criminally beautiful tiny home

Incredibly Useful Guide Lists the Pros and Cons of Six Cow Milk Alternatives

February 10, 2013 by  
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Have you been waiting to remove cow milk from your diet because you don’t where to start with some of the alternatives available on the market? If so, you might find this handy guide incredibly useful. Inhabitots discusses the pros and cons of six different milk alternatives, from almond milk to coconut milk and even oat milk, covering everything from cost, taste and the environmental impact of each option . This simple but detailed guide will spare you the trial and error process that went into it and bring you one step closer to a healthier, cow milk-free life. Image courtesy of Shutterstock READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: almond milk , alternative to cow milk , coconut milk , cow milk , Environment , environmental impact of cows , Health , hemp milk , Inhabitots , list of cow milk alternatives , oat milk , rice milk , soy milk , sustainable food , vegan milk

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Incredibly Useful Guide Lists the Pros and Cons of Six Cow Milk Alternatives

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