Why Oat Milk?
We live in amazing times when it comes to the enormous variety of foods we have available to us. If there is a flavor, sensation, combination, or craving out there, it has its match somewhere in the food industry. When we set out to make the very best tasting vegan pudding snack possible, we wanted to cover all the bases. First, it needed to taste better than just good; it needed to taste amazing, crave worthy, moreish! Next it had to feel incredible to eat. We didn’t want some grainy, pasty, gritty, mealy plant based pudding. We wanted smooth, creamy, silky, and utterly divine to slide off the spoon. And most importantly it had to not only be a healthy nutrition boost to the body, it also had to be environmentally sustainable and leave as small a footprint in its production as possible.
So you may still be asking, then why oat milk? We have soy milk, almond milk, rice, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, hemp, macadamia, and so on, so why did we choose oat milk? Because this was the very best in flavor, texture, health, and the protection of the planet. Here’s why!
There is simply too much that can go wrong with soy. Some people love it, some people hate it, and others can’t have it regardless. Soy is one of the top eight known allergens. That alone made us realize that we simply couldn’t make such a delicious vegan pudding that so many people still could not enjoy! It can also be tricky to source organic, non-gmo, and environmentally friendly production as so much of the world’s soy production is done in the Amazon, where the jungle is being destroyed at an alarming rate. So we continued our search.
Coconut milk, while delicious, was a firm “no” on two fronts. First, its flavor is strong and would alter the flavors of noops’ delicious pudding snacks. The worst is production. Sustainability, Fair Trade, and love of the planet are nearly impossible in the coconut industry. Coconuts only grow in the tropics which drastically limits farming opportunities. The palm groves are often worked by impoverished communities who are paid horribly, and to keep up with demand, more and more tropical landscape is being destroyed. This simply would not do.
Rice milk seems like a probable choice. It is a common staple, seemingly benign, and yet of all the plant milks, rice milk is responsible for the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions. It also consumes a huge amount of water in both growth and production using up a valuable resource. Add to the fact that it has nearly zero health benefits, and it simply wasn’t the right fit for noops!
Currently, milks such as hemp, flax, hazelnut, and macadamia nut are produced in smaller quantities for more of a niche market. Some have stronger flavors than others and can significantly alter the taste of whatever food you are preparing. Any nut milk was a no-go for us as to the great number of people with nut allergies in the world. You may be wondering, what about almonds? Almond milk is the most common plant milk on the market. It can be found as a dairy substitute in thousands of products, and it is widely available.
While only 0.5 to 1% of the people in the United States have allergic reactions to tree nuts, that’s still over three million people. While all three million may not be searching for the world’s best plant based pudding snack, there are simply too many that are, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint!
There are also some key environmental reasons that almond milk didn’t make the cut. Most importantly is the staggering amount of water that almond trees need to grow. A study in 2019 showed that one single California almond uses around 3.2 gallons of water to produce! The average container of almond milk uses around four almonds which equals 12.8 gallons of water.(1) This does not include the enormous amount of water used in production. If one box of almond milk only uses around four almonds, then the rest of the product is, you guessed it, water. When you consider around 80% of the world’s almonds are grown in California which is constantly in stages of drought, this makes the environmental impact that much more severe!
Along with the extreme water consumption, is also the impact on the bees. Almond trees are pollinated through bees rather than wind. Because of the high demand for almonds, over 70% of the commercial beekeepers in the United States have to migrate their bees to the almond fields each season. This puts incredible pressure on the bees and results in a death of around one-third of the commercial bees every season.
This leads us to our final choice of oat milk. To be fair, any plant, animal, and process of food production is going to have an impact on the planet. We wanted to choose the best option for taste, health, and sustainability. That is how oat milk won.
First, the taste cannot be beat. It has a neutral flavor that allows each of the smooth, sweet noops’ options to stand out clearly when savored. It is a naturally creamy plant based milk, which is always good for pudding, and it requires very few additives to make it truly delicious.
Oats are allergen friendly and healthy. Oats are high in protein making noops a vegan protein snack as well as a crave worthy dessert, so that’s a win, win! Depending on production, oat milk is also a good source of soluble fiber and is often fortified with calcium, iron, and vitamins A and D. Oats are also high in vitamin B, thiamin, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and copper, and many of these nutrients remain after processing. This makes it an extremely healthy plant milk for noops!
Lastly is the environmental impact. While oats do take a considerable amount of land to grow, they have already been in production for decades, and the quantity is substantial enough to support demand. At the moment, around 70% of the oat production is used in animal feed. As popularity for plant-based foods increases, the production can shift. Most of the oats are grown in the U.S. and Canada. As both countries have large amounts of land dedicated to agriculture, there is no need to decimate tropical jungles, and there is no abuse of local labor.(2)
All in all, it was oat milk for the win!
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