Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives Contribute to a Healthy and Sustainable Diet

Winston Craig*, Virginia Messina, Ian Rowland, Angelina Frankowska, JANE BRADBURY, Sergiy Smetana, Elphee Medici

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Plant-based foods are increasing in popularity as more and more people are concerned about personal and planetary health. The consumption of plant-based dairy alternatives (PBDAs) has assumed a more significant dietary role in populations shifting to more sustainable eating habits. Plant-based drinks (PBDs) made from soya and other legumes have ample protein levels. PBDs that are appropriately fortified have adequate levels of important vitamins and minerals comparable to dairy milk. For the PBDs examined, the greenhouse gas emissions were diminished by 59–71% per 250 mL, and the land use and eutrophication impact was markedly less than the levels displayed by dairy milk. The water usage for the oat and soya drinks, but not rice drinks, was substantially lower compared to dairy milk. When one substitutes the 250 mL serving of dairy milk allowed within the EAT Lancet Planetary Health Diet for a fortified plant-based drink, we found that the nutritional status is not compromised but the environmental footprint is reduced. Combining a nutrient density score with an environmental index can easily lead to a misclassification of food when the full nutrition profile is not utilized or only a selection of environmental factors is used. Many PBDAs have been categorized as ultra-processed foods (UPFs). Such a classification, with the implied adverse nutritional and health associations, is inconsistent with current findings regarding the nutritional quality of such products and may discourage people from transitioning to a plant-based diet with its health and environmental advantages.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3393
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2023


  • sustainability;
  • ultra-processed food
  • environmental footprint
  • dairy alternatives
  • plant-based drinks
  • protein
  • calcium
  • vitamin B12
  • iodine
  • vitamin D


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