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Food Chemistry

How do plant milks compare to cow’s milk?

Three-column Infographic on how plant milks compare to dairy milk. The first column highlights how plant milks are made: plant materials are either soaked and milled or dry milled, filtered to remove fibrous components, then formulated with water and other additions. They are then homogenised, heat treated, and packaged. The second column highlights the environmental impact of cow's milk, which has higher carbon emissions, land use and water use per litre produced compared to all plant-based milks. The final column highlights nutritional differences. Plant milks are fortified with calcium, and some are fortified with iodine, both found naturally in cow's milk. Protein content for plant milks is lower than for cow's milk.
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For plant milk manufacturers, business is booming. In 2021, 32% of British people surveyed drank plant-based milk as part of their diet, compared to 25% in 2020. How are these milks made, and how do they compare to cow’s milk when it comes to their environmental impact and nutritional value? This graphic takes a look.

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