Soy Milk Vs. Cow Milk: Which Is Better For You And The Environment?

Claudia Jeffrey
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There’s a growing awareness of the importance of replacing animal-based products with plant-derived ones. Many of these campaigns target dairy milk, with soy milk especially cited as a healthier alternative to the more popular cow milk.

Since dietary changes are not made on a whim, conducting extensive research is important before replacing cow milk with soy milk. A considerable part of your research would focus on the health benefits of soy milk vis-à-vis its potential downsides. However, there are also aspects of eco-friendliness and sustainability to consider. Choosing the more sustainable product is an ingenious way to contribute to the 7th Millennium Development Goal (MDG), which entails achieving environmental sustainability.

We’ve researched how soymilk compares to cow milk regarding health/nutrition and eco-friendliness. Read on and be inspired.

Why Does This Topic Matter?

Environmental sustainability and food security have been on the lips of policymakers for years now. The topic is of particular interest to soy producers.

According to U.S Soy latest news, the demand for soy protein is at an all-time high. The implication is that there may be a shortage of these nutritious legumes at some point in the future if we do not embrace sustainable farming methods today.

Fortunately, soy growers can implement certain innovative agricultural solutions to ramp up harvest and forestall any future shortages of these essential beans. It’s even more reassuring to know that most soy cultivation techniques are friendlier to the environment. And that applies to soymilk production too.

What Is Soy Milk?

Soymilk, also known as soya milk, is a plant-based drink made from soybeans. the process of extracting soymilk may differ slightly from one manufacturer to another. However, it typically begins by soaking and grinding soya beans. The mixture is then boiled and filtered to remove the particulates. What remains is a stable emulsion comprising oil, water, and protein.

Soymilk may be consumed as is or used to produce other soy-based products like tofu. Most importantly, the drink can serve as a healthier substitute for dairy milk. That’s primarily because it’s lactose-free and contains more healthy fats than cow milk.

As a substitute for cow milk, soymilk may also manufacture common imitations of dairy products. These include soy cream, soy cheese, and soy yogurt. The drink is also a common ingredient in baked goods, mayonnaise, and milkshakes.

Soy Milk Vs. Cow Milk: Which Is Better For You?

The best way to understand the difference between soy milk and cow milk is to compare the two products based on their nutritional profiles.

Soy Milk provides decent amounts of the most nutrients you’ll find in raw soybeans. These range from protein to dietary fiber, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin K, to mention but a few. However, the three most abundant nutrients in the drink are protein, oil, and water. Cow milk also contains decent amounts of water, protein, and oil.

You probably already know that water is the most important nutrient all living organisms require. But considering multiple water sources besides soy milk and cow milk, the focus should shift to protein and oil.

Soymilk contains 3.3 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). For comparison, cow milk provides 3.4 grams of protein in the same serving amount. That means there’s no significant quantitative difference between the protein content in soymilk and cow milk. It would also interest you that soy milk and cow milk are considerably high in all nine essential amino acids. However, soy milk is better when considering the other common nutrients in both products.

For starters, cow and soy milk are relatively high in fat. The primary difference is that soymilk is higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, while cow milk is higher in saturated fatty acids. Research has shown that consuming products high in saturated fatty acids, like dairy fats, may increase the risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD). On the contrary, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats might offer numerous benefits for your heart. These include regulating cholesterol levels and alleviating cardiovascular inflammation.

Soymilk also presents ZERO risks of lactose intolerance, unlike cow milk. Lactose is a simple sugar found in dairy products. It makes up around 2 – 8% of milk, which is enough to cause lactose intolerance in some people. Common symptoms of lactose intolerance include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort.

Lastly, unlike soymilk, cow milk may harbor bacteria. These bacteria can quickly replicate in unpasteurized milk and cause severe disease. The only noteworthy side effects of soymilk include gastric irritation and thyroid problems. Even then, you’ll need to consume huge amounts of the drink over a considerable duration to develop these complications.

Soy Milk Vs. Cow Milk: Which Is Better For The Environment?

Not only is soy milk better than cow milk in terms of nutritional profile. The process involved in producing soya milk is also easier on the environment.

Cow milk contributes more to the environmental footprint than soy milk. That’s especially considering the volume of greenhouse gas emissions. A 2018 study found that the production of dairy milk might contribute up to three times more greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based milk.

Cow milk, in particular, has a global warming potential (measured in kilograms of carbon dioxide for every liter of milk), ranging from 1.14 in Oceania to 2.5 in Africa. For comparison, the global warming potential of plant-based milk is around 0.42 for coconut and almond milk and 0.75 for soymilk. Soymilk is also friendlier to the environment than cow milk in terms of the required size of production land. Dairy milk needs about nine times more land to produce than their plant-based alternatives.

Conservative estimates suggest that each liter of cow’s milk utilizes 8.9 square meters of land annually. That’s a far cry from the paltry 0.8 liters required for oat milk production, 0.7 for soymilk, 0.5 for almond milk, and 0.3 for rice milk production. There’s also the water consumption aspect to consider. Dairy milk production requires 3 – 20 times as much freshwater as plant milk production.

Last but not least, cow milk creates higher levels of eutrophication than soymilk. Although eutrophication may offer certain benefits, it’s primarily associated with the blooming of harmful algae and the spread of gastrointestinal infections.

Wrap Up

Both cow milk and soymilk are chock full of nutrients that may benefit your body in various ways. However, soymilk exceeds cow milk in all major metrics, including nutritional profile and eco-friendliness.

Soy milk can be a nutritious option for those who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or following a plant-based diet. It is a good source of protein, essential fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals. However, individual nutritional needs may vary, so it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Soy milk is made from soybeans and water. It may also contain added vitamins, minerals, sweeteners, or flavorings depending on the brand or variety.

The main difference between milk and soy milk is their source. Milk is derived from animal mammary glands, while soy milk is made from soybeans. Soy milk is a suitable alternative for those who prefer to avoid dairy or follow a plant-based diet.

People drink soy milk for various reasons, including lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, ethical or environmental concerns, or adopting a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. It provides a creamy texture and can be used as a substitute for milk in various recipes and beverages.

While soy milk is generally considered safe for consumption, some individuals may have soy allergies or sensitivities. Additionally, soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. While the effects of phytoestrogens are still being studied, it’s recommended to consume soy products in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Drinking soy milk every day can be part of a balanced diet, especially if you have specific dietary needs or preferences. However, it’s essential to consider overall dietary diversity and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Soy milk has a distinct taste that differs from dairy milk. It has a creamy and slightly nutty flavor, but the taste may vary depending on the brand and any added flavorings.

The choice between almond milk and soy milk depends on individual preferences and dietary needs. Almond milk is lower in calories and fat, while soy milk offers more protein. It’s best to consider factors such as taste, nutritional content, and any specific dietary requirements when choosing between the two.

The healthiest milk to drink depends on individual dietary needs and preferences. Dairy milk can provide essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, but plant-based options like soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk can be suitable alternatives for those with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, or following a plant-based diet. It’s recommended to choose unsweetened varieties and consider nutritional factors that align with individual needs.

Both oat milk and soy milk can be nutritious options. Oat milk is known for its high fiber content, while soy milk offers more protein. The choice between the two depends on individual nutritional needs and preferences.

The nutritional profile of soy milk differs from that of regular milk. Regular milk is a good source of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. Soy milk, on the other hand, is free from lactose and cholesterol and is suitable for those with specific dietary restrictions. The choice between the two depends on individual dietary needs and preferences.

Claudia Jeffrey
Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as a Senior Editor at Crowd Writer. She loves to play guitar and spend some time in the kitchen where she tries new recipes. Claudia often blogs at WordountJet to share her ideas with the readers.

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