Got Milk? Having It Is Bad For The Environment


“You can’t call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat. Period.” Howard Lyman

Maybe it is true on some levels, but that quote hurts.

Oh Vegans. Even the label gets people’s dander up. Is that why there is a movement towards using the term plant-based diet? *Sigh*. Veganism Vs. Plant-based diets; who will save the Earth from impending destruction? It sounds like a comic to try to get kids to eat more broccoli.

I watched the documentary Cowspiracy The Sustainability Secret last night. As a lacto ovo pesca vegetarian I was shamed. *Forlornly hangs head*. There were LOTS of great facts packed into the hour and a half but it did what so many of them do; the producer tried to sell me on an all or nothing approach to saving the environment.

I want to be a good little environmentalist and do my part to save the planet. I have been a vegetarian for twenty years. I have been car free and bicycling for six months. I use greywater to flush my toilet, I have eliminated most chemicals brought into my house. I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic in my life. I am working towards a local, more sustainable, minimalist, zero-waste lifestyle. I even volunteer for an organization which is trying to reduce food waste and raise awareness about food insecurity. Yay me. Pats on the back. By the way it is not good enough.

This blog is supposed to be about milk. Here it is.

It can take up to 2,000 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. The cow needs water to perform basic biological functions from day to day, and only a fraction of the water the cow consumes is actually converted into milk.

Yikes. That is a lot of water. Well what about almond milk?

According to Capitalism is Freedom, it takes 1.1 gallons of water to produce a single almond, or about which would translate to about 460 gallons of water per pound of almonds. In turn, it takes about two pounds of almonds to make one gallon of Almond Milk, or 920 gallons of water.

Of course, no animals are dying or being abused to make almond milk.

How about soy milk?

A gallon of soy milk requires 208 gallons of water to produce.

That is not bad for water usage, just remember most soy grown is genetically modified. There are also many reports questioning whether or not soy may negatively affect hormones and possibly cause cancer.

Ask me how bad I am feeling about my latte I have every morning. Sure I brew it at home. I have a reusable coffee filter. I do not need any disposable cups or lids. I don’t waste gas driving anywhere to satiate my addiction but growing coffee is another slave labour inducing, rainforest depleting crop. Did you know coffee uses 1,056 gallons of water per gallon of brewed magic bean juice?

So what am I to do? Even if I wanted to embrace a homesteading lifestyle and grow all my food in the backyard, this just is not feasible for me at this time in my life. I really want to make positive changes and reduce my carbon footprint but I honestly do NOT want to go completely vegan. I enjoy dairy and eggs and even a little fish now and again.

Every single egg requires an average of 53 gallons of water to produce.  That may be far less than a 1/3-pound burger requiring 660 gallons of water, but is the environmental cost really worth it?

I just don’t know. I suppose I could calculate out the water required to commercially produce everything I eat and carefully negotiate and defend every choice versus every gallon used. I could swear off animal products and chose my fruits and veggies based on water usage, farming techniques, and overall sustainability. Or I could just do my best.

What would I have to do to call myself an environmentalist? Honestly it does not matter. I don’t need a label to do good in the world. All I have to do is my best. Every positive change is a move in the right direction. I want to be educated on how my food gets to the dinner table. The lessons learned are not easy to stomach, but I need to know the truth.







2 thoughts on “Got Milk? Having It Is Bad For The Environment

  1. Thank you for facing the truth and doing your best. I am mostly vegan, but animal products are ubiquitous and nearly impossible to avoid. I know some vegans are very obnoxious and I apologize on their behalf. Keep up the good work and exposing the truth.


  2. On water it takes to make a gallon of cow milk, the thought that it takes 2000 gallons is not true a typical cow produces 2-8 gallons of milk per day, simple logic tells you there is no way a cow can drink up to 16,000 gallons of water per day, the truth is it takes around 4 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk, including the water for the crops.

    Liked by 1 person

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