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Plant based milk 'a better choice' than cow's milk if you're concerned about the environment

In the third of a 1 NEWS series on being a more sustainable consumer, Kimberlee Downs looks at how Kiwis are going about reducing their environmental impact with their choice of milk.

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    1 NEWS reporter Kimberlee Downs looks into the issue. Source: 1 NEWS

    New Zealand’s milk is more sustainable than the rest of the world’s, but a recent study suggests it still cannot match plant based alternatives when it comes to the environment.

    That’s according to data from a recent study from Oxford University, that looked into the environmental impacts of 38,000 farms, producing 40 different agricultural goods.

    The study’s measurements covered the process of production, from land use, to the emissions from transport, processing and packaging.

    When it came to milk, it found on a global average cow’s milk performed the worst when it came to emissions.

    But New Zealand milk performs much better – including half the amount of emissions.

    The study’s author, Joseph Poore, told 1 NEWS he had concluded that while New Zealand milk performs better than the global average, "It's probably still better to drink plant based milk."

    Fonterra’s head of Global Consumer and Foodservice business Judith Swales, says they know New Zealand milk is some of the most sustainable in the world.

    "Our farmers are continuing to invest in sustainable outcomes, they've spent a billion dollars of their own money to improve the environmental outcomes and sustainability," she says.

    "So we're here to protect our environment and pass it on for generations."

    But Future of Food scientist Dr Rosie Bosworth, says with taste, intolerance, and environmental concerns, demand for dairy is declining.

    "Particularly the millenials and the gen z's, they want something that is healthy, but they want something that is ethical," she says.

    She predicts a future where lab grown milk proteins and plant based alternatives play a major part in the future of milk.

    Also from the 1 NEWS sustainable consumer series:

    New Zealand tourism operators stepping up to help the environment

    Auckland Zoo ditches throwaway coffee cups for the sake of the environment

    Top tips for Kiwis wanting to limit harm to the environment while on holiday