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The future of dairy is plants

As Fonterra is projecting multi million dollar losses for the second year in a row, it is clear the writing is on the wall for dairy as more and more Kiwis turn to plant milks. 22nd August is International Plant Milk Day and there is now a different plant milk for each day of the week available right here in New Zealand. As the country's green credentials are, like the cows, dragged through the mire over the winter cropping issue, diversifying into crops is becoming a very sound alternative for many dairy farmers.

Even here in New Zealand, it can take up to 2000 litres of water to produce just one litre of milk, not to mention the problems in certain areas of nitrate runoff causing river pollution, reducing our water quality, all the while taking up precious groundwater in traditionally dry areas of the country. The fact that so many cows exist is pushing up our greenhouse gas emissions, burping methane in huge quantities and of course breathing out carbon dioxide. Then there's their consumption of palm kernal extract adding to the deforestation of Indonesia and orangutan habitats.

As people become more aware of the need to change the way we live, certain choices are being made. When you choose a plant milk you can be sure the resources used were far lower than the dairy counterpart (no matter what Fonterra scientists will try to spin to you). Many Kiwi dairy farmers are already exploring growing plants alongside their current dairy business. Hemp is often a great choice for such people as it grows in a diversity of environments, doesn't require pesticides, herbicides or much in the way of fertiliser. We need government incentives to help farmers diversify and not bear the brunt of the cost. They need to be rewarded for doing their part for the Zero Carbon Bill.

Today's plant milks are no longer just soy, rice and almond, now there are milks made from oats, coconut, cashews and even hemp, the next new delicious and nutritious milk out on the market. Hemp has a great protein profile and with omegas 3 and 6 in the right balance, it is ideal to keep your skin and tissue supple and supplies all the essential amino acids. Whichever plant milk you enjoy, you are not getting any saturated fats or cholesterol, while some such as soy and oat, actively reduce your blood cholesterol.

Why not take up the dairy free challenge for the week 22nd to 29th August to celebrate Plant Milk Day and get your chance to try one of the 34 vegan cheeses available in NZ!


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