By now, we’ve gotten used to the idea that not all milk on the market comes from cows, which is a great thing for lactose-intolerant people or those who prefer not to consume animal products: there’s soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, and almond milk, among other things. One non-dairy product we never saw coming? Pea milk — which is now a real thing.
While it apparently doesn’t taste anything like the vegetable, milk made from pea protein is a very real thing that’s heading to grocery stores soon from a company called Ripple Foods, which is the brainchild of one of the founders of sustainable soap brand Method.
It took a year for Ripple to tackle the challenge of making creamy, sweet milk from peas, reports Co.exist, and come out with something that doesn’t actually taste like peas. In fact, Ripple says, it tastes more like dairy milk than the other dairy-alternatives out there.
Milk made from peas isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. Compared to cow’s milk, it has the same amount of protein (about 8 grams per cup) but fewer calories (75 calories per cup of unsweetened original flavor plant-based milk, compared to 86 calories in the same amount of skim milk), less sugar, more calcium, and a healthy dose of omega-3 fats — the good kind of fat that slows down digestion so you feel full for longer — according to nutrition information published on Ripple Food’s website.
Compared to almond milk, milk from peas has eight times as much satisfying protein — well worth the difference in calories (it has about 35 more calories than unsweetened almond milk). And compared to soy, plant-based milk has an extra gram of protein, less sugar, and more calcium. (For what it’s worth, the stuff still has way more ingredients than you’d find in pure cow’s milk: pea protein, sunflower oil, algal oil, a bunch of vitamins and minerals, guar gum, and gellan gum.)
Dairy has a massive carbon footprint, and a single gallon of milk takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce. Plant-based alternatives, from almond milk to coconut milk, are gaining in popularity, but they have issues of their own.
“It’s a lot more like dairy milk than any other dairy-alternative milk on the market”
Making milk from peas also has a substantially smaller carbon and water footprint. While almonds are grown in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley, with heavy doses of both irrigation and fertilizer, peas are mostly grown in the upper Midwest without the need for much of either. Ripple has calculated that its milk takes 96% less water to make than almond milk, 99% less than dairy milk, and 76% less than soy milk. The carbon footprint is 93% smaller than dairy.