As growing numbers of people start to become more environmentally aware, many are starting to switch to non-dairy milk alternatives.

Non-dairy alternatives including almond, soy and coconut milk have been popular with vegans for a while now, but more and more people are starting to switch as it can be better for the environment.

Many people have moved away from consuming dairy products like milk and cheese for a range of reasons. Many choose to avoid dairy for environmental reasons because these products are produced from animals. People believe animal products can contribute to climate change through water and air pollution. Some even avoid dairy as they see health benefits from consuming more plant-based foods and drinks.

There are plenty of health benefits to drinking the dairy option of milk. Cows’ milk contains more protein compared to almond milk for example. Protein is essential for muscle growth, skin and bone structure and enzyme and hormone production.

Some plant-based milks contain nuts, which is not that helpful for people who suffer from nut allergies. Not to worry though, because there are plenty of options. If you are looking for an alternative option which is both dairy and nut-free, you could try oat or soy milk. Both products have the same health benefits as other non-dairy milks.

All milk contains sugar whether its dairy or non-dairy milk. But non-dairy milk contains more sugar in the sweetened product. There are other non-dairy milk products, with most having an unsweetened version which cuts sugar levels to near zero.

Although both products are good for you, drinking alternative milk products has more health benefits than dairy milk from the likes of cows, sheep and goats. Almond milk is low in fat and contains half the calories of dairy milk. The same goes for both soy milk and rice milk. Both are naturally cholesterol-free so it can lower your cholesterol and help your cardiovascular health.

It has been discovered that almond milk might not be as good for the environment as everyone had thought, however. The almonds are made in California, but in recent years the state has suffered from extreme droughts. To grow almonds, you need gallons of water just to produce a handful. So, where do the farmers get the water from for the plants? They use irrigation to grow the almonds. The water that is meant for other crops and the local people is being used to water almond plants instead.

Another ethical issue with producing almond milk is the pesticides that are used to keep insects from destroying the crop. In the production of commercial almonds, the pesticides that farmers use are contaminating other water sources, as a result contaminating drinking water sources for the local farming communities. The pesticide residue which is left on the almond can also be harmful to wildlife too. Some pesticides are toxic to honey bees who help protect the environment by pollinating wildflowers, plants and some types of trees.

To reduce the environmental impact, you can buy organic non-dairy alternatives. Certified organic almond milk means that no pesticides have been used on the crop and less water has been used to produce the almonds themselves.

Companies are seeing a rise in the number of people buying non-dairy products. One of the most popular dairy-free milk brands, Alpro, owned by Danone, has recently been rebranded to encourage more customers to go dairy-free. Figures show that £1 out of £10 is spent on non-dairy products currently. Smoothie brand, Innocent have also jumped on the bandwagon and produced plant-based drinks. The company owned by drinks giant Coca-Cola now produces almond milk drinks along with coconut, hazelnut and oat milks.

Experts believe that persuading the public to add plant-based products to their daily diets could save the UK government billions of pounds. The initiative sees healthcare costs reduced as studies are showing that having a plant-based diet may be able to reduce the risk of strokes, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

As dairy-free milk alternatives start to become more popular, many people will start to change their habits again to organic non-dairy products to help the environment.