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Vegan company touts benefits of its 'free-range trees': 'A ticket to a better future'

"We can do better, and we are doing so when we make mindful choices each time we shop."

"We can do better, and we are doing so when we make mindful choices each time we shop."

Photo Credit: Milkadamia

More and more people are turning to plant-based alternatives for dairy and meat, often for environmentally conscious reasons — plant-based foods create far less pollution and planet-overheating gases than the dairy and meat industries. 

However, that does not mean that all plant-based foods are equal when it comes to environmental impact. One company, the Australia-based vegan milk brand Milkadamia, is showing how to responsibly create a plant-based milk alternative.

Milkadamia focuses on farming the macadamia nuts it uses for its milk with methods that restore soil health, balance carbon levels, and support the local ecosystem.

"We always said Milkadamia is a ticket to a better future, so we can choose foods that nurture the earth, that rebuild our soils, that are grown by letting nature do what she knows best, and with care and flair," Milkadamia CEO Alexandra Newman told VegNews. 

The company calls its macadamia trees "free-range trees," a somewhat tongue-in-cheek label that points to the fact that the trees thrive solely on the water they receive from rainfall, without artificial irrigation, which can have ripple effects throughout an ecosystem.

"Grown where they originated, our free-range trees are supporting life, not trees on life support," Newman said.

The company specifically called out palm oil as a plant-based ingredient that is farmed using environmentally destructive practices. Last year, Indonesia fined palm oil companies operating in its rainforests over $310 million for destroying trees.

"If you produce palm oil, you are removing the forest. This is unacceptable in our book," Newman said. "There is no such thing as sustainable tropical forest destruction. We can do better, and we are doing so when we make mindful choices each time we shop."

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Almonds — another type of nut used for dairy-free milk alternatives — have also been pointed to as needing an excessive amount of irrigated water to farm. In California, a state already suffering from droughts, this has been a big problem.

While it is great to keep in mind that plant-based alternatives are better for the planet than dairy and meat, it is also important to stay aware of which specific companies and food sources are doing the least harm.

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