Joghurt-Dilemma: Glas+Tierisch vs. Plastik+Vegan
Kitchen,  Less Waste

The Yogurt Dilemma

Until a few years ago I was busy spooning fruit yogurt out of plastic cups. At some point I got tired of producing so much plastic waste and eating so much sugary stuff. So I switched to organic natural yogurt in 500g deposit jars. So far so good. In the meantime, however, I have had more and more doubts as to whether this is actually the ultimate answer.

Is it safe to consume dairy products?

No, unfortunately not. Consuming dairy products is critical for several reasons:

  • On the one hand, there is the ecological balance of dairy farming: the methane emitted when cows puff and belch is many times more harmful to the climate than carbon. It is also released when manure from cow dung is spread in the fields. The water requirement of cows should also not be neglected. Each cow drinks up to 40 liters of water per day in the pasture and up to 80 liters of water in the stable (with dry feed).
  • Then the animal welfare aspect : Even milk from organic farming does not come from happy cows. In order to be able to fulfill their function as “milk machines”, dairy cows are artificially impregnated every year. Otherwise they would – like any other mammal – give no milk at all. In addition, the calves are separated from their mother animals shortly after birth, which is anything but species-appropriate. So ultimately we humans drink the milk away from the calves. You have to keep that clear to yourself.
  • And finally there are the health risks associated with milk consumption: The image of milk as a calcium supplier, still often promoted by advertising, has been severely damaged in the meantime. Various studies suggest that dairy products are more likely to remove calcium from the bones. Women are said to be exposed to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Concerning men, dairy products are now considered a risk factor for prostate cancer. Not to forget the widespread lactose intolerance and a certain allergy potential.

Anyone who would like to deal with this topic in more detail can look at the NDR documentation “The Milk Lie “ (in German) – some years old, but still up to date.

Vegan yogurt alternatives in a jar – nonexistent

So I turned around again and came up with vegan (organic) yogurt alternatives. Cool, finally eating yogurt without a guilty conscience, problem solved. Or? No, unfortunately not: Plant-based yogurt alternatives are currently only available in plastic cups . It is mostly just thin plastic with cardboard around it – but: it is and remains plastic, with all its disadvantages for the environment – including for mankind itself.

In the last few months, the plastic catastrophe has finally reached a broad public: The plastic pollution of the oceans, low recycling rates, health risks from microplastics. All of this allows only one conclusion:
We have to say goodbye to plastic as one-way packaging material – quickly and consistently.

Real plastic recycling is an illusion. If plastic is released into the environment, it takes centuries for it to break down. And if it is ingested as microplastic with food, it is deposited in the organism. The consequences of this for human and animal health cannot be predicted today.

The future therefore lies in the consistent avoidance of waste or in the development of sustainable packaging .

What do the manufacturers say?

We wrote to several manufacturers of vegan yogurt alternatives and suggested the use of deposit jars. The answers we received were as follows:

“For ecological reasons, reusable systems made of glass only make sense if they are standard glasses that are used nationwide. The way to the nearest bottler must be as short as possible. For transports of several hundred kilometers, the negative ecological effect due to the high weight (more emissions during transport) exceeds the advantage of the reusable system.

Reusable filling systems are relatively widespread for certain dairy products (such as yogurts) and beverages (such as mineral water and beer). There are only a few manufacturers of vegan yogurt alternatives. The transports would be correspondingly long, the transport costs correspondingly high – rising prices for the end user would be the result.

A switch to glass is therefore not currently planned. We take note of your complaint and will forward it to our marketing and development departments.”

In summary: Too few filling stations, long transport routes and high transport costs, so everything stays the same.
The manufacturer’s point of view is understandable, but of course it also has to do with the fact that plastic as a packaging material is still far too cheap today. The follow-up costs for one-way packaging urgently need to be factored in. If it was worthwhile for manufacturers to switch to reusable glass, the network of filling stations would also become more tightly meshed, which in turn would reduce carbon emissions – and transport costs.

Incentives are needed to get such a change going. Here politicians are asked to finally show the courage to break away from the packaging lobby and to set responsible guidelines.

A solvable “problem” – the taste

Oh yes: soy yogurt is not everyone’s taste – neither is mine. The variants “with taste” often contain sugar and flavorings – as was the case with “normal” fruit yogurt. It’s not that easy. But at least for this problem there are already ways out: Simply buy soy yogurt “natural” and stir in your own pureed fruit – the vegan fruit yogurt without added sugar is ready – many thanks to was.mit.bildern for the hint! And by the way: Coconut yoghurt (vegan!) is tasty as well – even pure.

And when it comes to muesli, oat milk is a delicious alternative to soy or coconut yogurt – preferably from regional cultivation. You can even very well produce oat milk yourself – easy, inexpensive and packaging-free.

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