Your Almond Milk Addiction Is Aggravating the California Drought

Indrani Sengupta
Almond Milk is delicious. There's no doubt about it. But what does it offer us that raw almonds don't already? And what has the recent craze for almond milk done to California's already depleted water resources?

Almond milk. It’s like regular milk, but with none of the cholesterol. Loved by vegans. Loved by the lactose-intolerant. Loved by the occasional calorie-counter. Almond milk is no longer the gastronomic monopoly of hipsters, niche consumers, and those among us who shop exclusively at that one adorable co-op with the punny name. It’s 2015, and almond milk is as mainstream as blue jeans.

So what’s the problem? 

A single almond takes 1.1 gallons of water to grow. And almond milk is a composition of pulverized almonds, vitamins, and even more water.


And the US state that’s famously wanting for water, as of the past four years? California, where 80 percent of the world’s almonds are grown.

Which isn’t to say we’re suggesting that you boycott almonds. Far from it. Almonds are still an excellent source of protein, fiber, and good fats. So much so that you’re better off eating an ounce of raw almonds than a glass of almond milk.

According to Mother Jones, “A bottle of Califia delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as [one] mighty jug of this hot-selling beverage.”

What’s more, almond milk derives much of its healthfulness from a cocktail of vitamin additives. So maybe next time, skip the almond milk in favor of a fistful of almonds and a quick vitamin pill. And if you’re still hankering for a bowl of milk with your cereal, there’s always coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, oat milk (!), and kefir.

Note: We’ll let you know if we find out any not-so-great facts about those, too.