You've heard of soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk. There's also milk from hemp, peas, and rice already on the market. But what about milk from microbes? It's not as gross or outlandish as it sounds – although it is cutting-edge and could significantly decrease the environmental footprint of our global love of milk.
Milk is more popular than ever, with a 27% increase in cow's milk production since 2010. In 2020, nearly 998 million tons were produced. However, the existence of 270 million dairy cows comes at a significant cost – deforestation, massive use of water, and the release of methane and nitrous oxides into the atmosphere. And although plant-based milk has a smaller environmental impact, the use of resources is still significant.
That's where Betterland Milk comes in. Using a technology called precision fermentation, microbes can be genetically programmed to produce whey proteins that are exactly like those found in milk – but without a single cow. It's the same technology that allows Impossible burgers to "bleed" red heme proteins. Combined with a blend of vegetable oils, the whey proteins in Betterland Milk taste closer to "real" cow's milk than any other plant-based alternative on the market, and work better for drinking, mixing with coffee, making soft cheeses, and baking. It's also lactose and cholesterol free.
You'll be able to try it for yourself later this year, when it becomes available on Amazon and then on supermarket shelves. For now, it's a pricey $6.89 a quart, but with none of the environmental costs associated with the dairy industry.
Making sense of milk from microbes:
- The dairy industry's carbon dioxide emissions are on par with emissions from global aviation and shipping, combined.
- Microbial production of whey proteins results in 97% fewer greenhouse gases and uses 99% less water than traditional cow's milk production.
- In addition to cow's milk, whey proteins from microbes are already used in vegan ice cream and chocolate.