Review on milk substitutes from an environmental and nutritional point of view

Beatriz Queiroz Silva, Sergiy Smetana

Milk consumption in humans lasts longer than in other mammals species. Today consumers' awareness of the environmental burden that some products carry, like milk, keeps growing. Consequently, they are looking for alternatives that are more environmentally friendly and well as nutritionally similar. This review explores the data available in the literature and compares the nutritional profile and the environmental impact of several milk alternatives with the profile of milk from different mammals. Overall plant-based beverages available on the market shelves appear to be nutritionally richer than animal milk: their profile shows a possible fortification in some nutrients, which is a normal practice during the processing step of these products. On the environmental impact of these products, a lot of data is missing, making it impossible to make a full comparison across environmental categories. Overall, the environmental impact of plant-based milk is lower than milk, with exceptions in some categories. This study has many limitations since the available data for the different products is limited, for both nutritional profile and environmental impact. For example, while mammals’ milk is very well characterised, the biggest occurrence of missing data is found in the nutritional profile of plant-based beverages, where some products only have available information on macronutrients.