How many Litres does it take to make almond milk?
It takes a bonkers 1,611 US gallons (6,098 litres) to produce 1 litre of almond milk,” says the Sustainable Restaurant Association's Pete Hemingway. Over 80% of the world's almonds are grown in California, which has been in severe drought for most of this decade.
It takes 1.1 gallons (5 litres) of water to grow one almond, and thanks to the big profits they bring in, almond orchards continue to be planted (this isn't to say cow's milk, which takes about 100 litres of water to produce 100ml of milk, is more environmentally friendly – more that its production is not concentrated ...
A study based on the global milk supply and conducted in 2018 demonstrated that 628 liters of water are required to produce one liter of cow milk. Other plant-based milk alternatives reported lower amounts of water. In fact, just 28 liters of water are used to produce soy milk.
With almond milk, there is generally a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 cups of almonds to water. This means that it can take up to 101 gallons of water to make just 1 cup of almonds, plus an additional 3 or 4 cups of water to make a small serving of almond milk.
If you're purely looking at numbers, the answer is clear: It's mostly cheaper to buy packaged milk than to DIY. This is likely because non-dairy milk producers buy massive quantities of nuts in bulk, which reduces cost significantly.
Consider this: It takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce one almond or pistachio nut.
For instance, studies show almond milk spends almost 20 times more water than dairy milk (though the latter performs worse on GHG emissions). In fact, a recent study estimated the total water footprint for one California almond is on average 3.2 gallons (128L).
A whopping 106 gallons of water goes into making just one ounce of beef. By comparison, just about 23 gallons are needed for an ounce of almonds (about 23 nuts), the Los Angeles Times reported recently. So stop with the almond shaming, and start eating less red meat.
To grow just a single almond, 1.1 gallons of water is required. To make just one cup of almond milk, 92 almonds are needed. If you do the math, about 101.2 gallons of water are required to produce 1 cup of almond milk.
In Canada, producing one litre of milk requires, on average, about 25 litres of water – but as mentioned above, this number varies from region to region. In some provinces, like Quebec, it's closer to 10 litres. By comparison, in some European and Asian countries, it can take 60–100 litres of water or more.
How much water does it take to make a gallon of almond milk?
In turn, it takes about two pounds of almonds to make one gallon of Almond Milk, or 920 gallons of water.
IME state that to produce 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water whereas to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water.
Cow's milk has significantly higher impacts than the plant-based alternatives across all metrics. It causes around three times as much greenhouse gas emissions; uses around ten times as much land; two to twenty times as much freshwater; and creates much higher levels of eutrophication.
This means that many mainstream almond-milk brands are made of approximately 98% water and additives with only a few almonds. So if you're buying almond milk hoping to reap the nutritional benefits of almonds, you might not be getting as much benefit as you think.
Almond Milk has one of the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and uses less land than dairy milk but almond milk is known for its high water usage. Almond milk requires more water than any of the other dairy alternatives: It takes 130 pints of water to produce a single glass of almond milk.
“If the product looks, smells and tastes normal after 7 to 10 days in the fridge, it should be fine—you just need to use your good judgement and be on the lookout for signs of spoilage, especially as a bottle gets closer to empty,” says Neumann.
Studies have shown a link between heart disease and saturated fat consumption, so one benefit of almond milk is that you're getting your fats from a healthier source. It also has a higher nutrient profile, and contains more potassium, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, magnesium and calcium.
We find that on average, DIY almond milk lasts 4-5 days. If it becomes sour before then, make sure to fully sterilize your equipment before use by running it through the dishwasher or pouring boiling water in your jars (make sure the jars aren't too cold when you do this or they may crack).
While almond trees use around the same amount of water as other fruit and nut trees, plants require more energy, and thus more water, to create protein than sugars. So though nuts need more water than fruits and vegetables, they are also rich in essential nutrients, good fats and protein.
Don't worry, I did the math for you, and in the most depressing word problem ever, found that this means between 33 and 248 gallons of water go into producing just a half-gallon of almond milk.
Which milk uses the least water?
When it comes to environmental impact, soy milk and oat milk are the winner in this comparison. Both use the least water of all milk alternatives, with only slightly higher emissions than almond milk.
Almond milk is incredibly hydrating since it's made mostly of water and is safe for anyone with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance. "Compared to other plant-based milks3 , almond milk is naturally a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin E," one study says.
The milk with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions is almond milk, because the trees lock up a lot of CO₂ as they grow. However, it does require the most water to produce of the vegan milks. Soy milk uses the least water with only slightly higher emissions.
While comparing several vegan milks, Niranjan explains, “The research shows that soy and oat milk have the smallest environmental footprint. They take little water to grow and have low emissions.” That said, he emphasizes, “compared to cow's milk, the differences between these vegan milks are pretty small.
1. Almonds. To produce 1 pound of almonds, 7302 litres of water is used, making them the nut with the biggest water footprint. It actually takes 5 litres of water to produce just 1 almond!