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Environmental comparison of soy milk and cow’s milk

Environmental comparison of soy milk and cow’s milk

how sustainable is…

…soy milk compared to regular milk? The following is a summary of a study which investigated the environmental impact of 1L of soy milk and compares the results to the environmental impact of 1L of regular milk from cows. The study is based on Swedish conditions but assumes that the soy beans are grown in and imported from Brazil. In terms of the environmental impact, the study looks specifically at the following impact categories:

  • Land use
  • Fossil energy use (or energy use)
  • Eutrophication
  • Acidification
  • Climate change
  • Ozone layer depletion

The study suggests that soy milk has a lower impact on the environment than regular milk in all of the above impact categories except ozone layer depletion. However, it also notes that some of the results should be investigated further.

Link to full report

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

Based on the results from the above study, drinking soy milk instead of cow’s milk is better for the environment.

However, be aware of the differences in nutritional content of the two different products, such as calcium, cholesterol and fat, to name a few. We suggest that you consult other independent information sources on this topic, especially if you have a health condition or want to be mindful about what you eat for some other reason (or you have children and cow’s milk is currently a key source of calcium for them) . However, if that’s not the case you may want to consider switching to soy milk – especially if it’s mostly the source of white froth on your daily coffees…

Report Rating: 3 of 3

Report Published: 2009

Country: Sweden

Author(s): Sandra Birgersson, Britta-Stina Karlsson and Leif Söderlund

Publisher: unpublished (prepared at Royal Institute of Technology, University in Stockholm, Sweden)

Funder: not known (assumed to be prepared without third party funding)

Keywords:  environmental impact, soy milk, cow’s milk, farm, drink, soy bean, sustainability, agriculture

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