I first heard about oat milk at a coffee shop near my house.

“It’s the most environmentally friendly milk.”

I was eavesdropping on the barista’s conversation with another patron. I wanted to interrupt and set the record straight, but then my toddler took off running and my chance to interject myself into a conversation I wasn’t invited to passed.

Then last month, as I was picking up my Califia Farms coconut milk, a woman stopped to ask me if I’d tried oat milk. She admitted she was recently diagnosed as lactose intolerant.

I’m going to tell you what I told her: I don’t recommend oat milk, from a health or environmental perspective.

Here’s why.

From a health perspective:

Oatly, the most popular brand of oat milk, doesn’t just contain good ol’ oats and milk. It also contains canola oil, preservatives and synthetic vitamins.

Canola oil, or rapeseed oil, is not a healthy oil.

Even though Oatly sources non-GMO canola oil that has not been extracted with hexane, which I can appreciate, this is still a highly processed industrialized oil.

Canola oil, which is derived from the rapeseed, undergoes an intcredible amount of processing including intense pressure, heat, bleaching and deodorizing. The polyunsaturated oils in canola oil are very delicate and this process causes rancidity.

Canola oil is not only rancid, it is high in omega-6 fatty acids, making inflammatory as well. We know that inflammation is a driver of many diseases including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc.

Read more about canola and the plethora of sources I use here.

It’s high in sugar, carbohydrate and calories.

One cup of oat milk contains a whopping 16 grams of carbohydrate, 7 grams of sugar and 120 calories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no calorie counter, but that is high. It’s higher than even my coconut milk (which for the record: 45 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of sugar).

Current oat production is no friend to the environment.

While Oatly and other brands try to source environmentally friendly oats, the fact is that oats in general are just not environmentally friendly. In fact, Oatly claims that their oats are glyphosate free. And while their supplier, Grain Millers, does try to keep their oats glyphosate free, they released this statement six months ago,

“According to the press release issued today, the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), headquartered in Washington, D.C. has found glyphosate residues in several oat-based products. In light of this announcement, we feel it is important to share with you, our customers, our ongoing engagement in this area.”

Glyphsate has also been linked to cancer (read more about that here and here).

Oats destroy soil, and what destroys soil destroys the environment.

So many people, plant based advocates in particular, make the mistake of assuming that because something is grown without the use of animal products or production, that it’s environmentally friendly.

This reductionist thinking is going to get us into a huge mess. Let me break this down.

Oats require a tremendous amount of nitrogen. Oats require 97-117 lbs of nitrogen per acre. Canola requires 100-123 lbs. So we add synthetic nitrogen to the soil. What happens when synthetic nitrogen is added to the soil?

A few things:

Over time, the soil is completely depleted. Eventually, the soil is completely unable to be farmed. When people worry about food scarcity – this is what they should worry about. Not pasture based farms; they need to worry about the intense damage being done to the soil by industrial agriculture practices.

In fact, studies have shown that adding nitrogen to the soil not only ends up depleting the soil of nitrogen, but it impairs the ability of the soil to retain nitrogen. Over time, more and more nitrogen is needed, until the land is completely useless. And then, not only can food not be grown on this land – the land will not sequester carbon. Leading to excess green house gas emissions.

Interestingly, said study used manure on land and guess what? The soil not only retained nutrients but the nutrients increased. That’s because nature is smarter than we are. Animals nourish the land when grown correctly (ie: pasture based farming).

When cows are put to pasture, they nourish the soil. The manure imparts nutrients into the soil, often making once unusable land potentially farmable. This system also sequesters carbon and encourages plant growth. See? Oat milk ain’t fo environmentally friendly after all. Grass-fed, raw milk from your local farmer on the other hand…

Let us not forget how nitrogen fertilizer is made.

This production gets bigger every year. Supplies of nitrogen fertiliser, which is produced almost entirely from natural gas, are expected to grow nearly 4% per year over the next decade.5 And this production will increasingly rely on natural gas from fracked wells, which leak 40 to 60 percent more methane than conventional natural gas wells. (Methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.) Source

Furthermore, each year, soil erodes and is washed downstream via lakes and rivers, eventually making its way to the Gulf. When fertilizers, nitrogen in particular, are washed into local waterways – it destroys animal and plant life.

By the time all of this nitrogen reaches the Gulf, it has created an entire dead zone the size of Delaware. And that’s a good year. Let me reiterate that: the fertilizers required to grow crops like oats and canola have created a dead zone in the Gulf the size of Delaware. This dead zone kills animal and plant life alike.

This article provides numerous studies and a comprehensive overview of just how damaging synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is.

The good news.

There is evidence that practicing crop rotation with oats, ie: alternating soy, corn and oat crops can lessen the need for all of these harsh fertilizers and prevent soil erosion (source). But you, as the oat drinking public, need to demand this.

Write to the companies that sell oat milk, comment on their social media. Insist that they begin sourcing oats from farmers that absolutely do not use glyphosate. Encourage them to find and work with farms that intend to practice crop rotation.

Every time you buy food, you vote.

So vote wisely. Vote for your local farmer. Vote for organically grown, sustainable produce. Vote for grass-fed cows and wild seafood. Because this is what will make a difference. Not another plant based milk that puts an incredible demand on the earth, stripping it of nutrients.

The soil is a living organism. If we have unhealthy soil, we don’t have food. It doesn’t sequester carbon. Soil is the skin of the earth and it’s crucial that we start to take care of it. Oat products strips the soil and necessitates synthetic fertilizer. Grass-fed cows nourish the soil and impart a plethora of nutrients. You might just be better off finding a local farmer to purchase grass-fed milk.





Why Oat Milk Is Not a Healthy or Environmentally Friendly Option -have you recently transitioned to drinking oat milk latte? Let's take a closer look at this supposedly eco friendly dairy-free milk substitute! Ancestral Nutrition #health #dairyfree


  1. This was hard to read and accept but wow. Thank you for the knowledge. My eyes are opening up. wide

  2. This blog is totally off by saying that animal based milk is 1 healthier for human consumption (it is an acid forming substance) and 2 saying its environmentally friendlier. Have you looked into the amount of land and water usage it takes to raise animals? Do you understand how much space these large animals take? I hate when people pay for some certifications, learn how to set up a blog and take photos, and all of a sudden they’re to be trusted and followed.
    While YES, store bought oat milk has added ingreds, you can EASILY make your own at home and save some money without the excessive ingredients. You can even do cashew milk perhaps (even more environmentally friendly?).
    If you don’t consider the amount of resources it takes for animals to be fed and watered, plus the space they take up AND the fact that they’re exploited and separated from their calves regardless of if they’re grass-fed or pasture raised, then idk what else to tell you. This information is not credible dude, sorry.


    • Sadly although your article may be well intentioned it is intentionally or otherwise very misleading.

      There is no product that is completely eco friendly, so you look for the least worst option. Fertilisers can be harmful…so why use them? To improve yield. If you don’t we run out of land, which is why swathes of biodiversity is being lost to deforestation. If you think this is ok then go for organic oat milk.

      Cow milk does have some benefits, but takes up huge amounts of land, the animals are often given fertilised feed anyway, and to top it all cows are a huge source of greenhouses gasses , especially methane. Look up the effect of cows on the environment. Fine to point out concerns with products, but suggesting anything that comes from cows is eco friendly is just wrong

  4. 1 star
    When did they start letting birds write articles? Regular milk has same amount of calories + horomones. You didn’t tell us what’s bad about oakmilk you just stated you’re a bird and can only have 4.5 calories at a time thanks

  5. While I appreciate the information presented in this article, I wish there were alternatives given instead of simply saying “Oat milk is bad.” Everyone needs to make the best informed decision for themselves and having alternatives is helpful. Thanks.

  6. Painful read Reply

    1 star
    i regret reading any part of this. it’s 15% accurate at best ?

  7. 1) you completely fail to address the impacts of animal milk. Vegans do not drink oat milk because it is healthy or wonderful for the environment, they do it because it is significantly less damaging for the planet than animal milk. 2) there are like 14 other plant based milks to evaluate 3) Oat milk uses less land and water than animal milk 4) many studies show animals are indeed huge sources of carbon emissions, species loss, deforestation, water pollution, etc REGARDLESS of if they are raised “holistically” (cows are not migrating bison, smh). 5) the whole point of plant based is not that it is perfect, but that it is significantly better than animal farming.


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