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5 questions about… vegetable yoghurt

  1. If you eat vegan or are lactose intolerant, a plant-based version of yogurt is a godsend. But is it also a good idea for other people to switch to yogurt based on soy, coconut, almonds or oats? And is this sustainable? Five questions and answers about plant-based yogurt.

1. What is vegetable yogurt?

  1. Plant-based yogurt is a lactose-free alternative to dairy. Vegans, people with lactose intolerance or people who do not want to consume animal dairy products can take the yoghurt based on, for example, soybeans or almonds. To these products are added (vegetable) yoghurt cultures, but also vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

2. What types of vegetable yogurt are there?

  1. More and more types of dairy substitutes are appearing on the shelves. Soy yogurt, almond yogurt and coconut yogurt can be found in supermarkets as a replacement for yogurt - often with flavors such as vanilla or fruit. Yogurt based on oats is also made, but this is not yet available in Dutch shops.

3. Is vegetable yogurt healthy?

  1. As with animal yogurt, there are healthy and less healthy varieties of the product. The flavored (vegetable) yogurts are often less healthy, because sugar is usually added. When buying a vegetable variant of yogurt, it is important to pay attention to the amount of sugars, fats and whether vitamins and minerals have been added to the product. According to the Netherlands Nutrition Center, yogurt fits into the Wheel of Five when it per 100 grams: - Contains less than 1.1 grams of saturated fat - Contains up to 6 grams of sugar - Contains protein, calcium and vitamin B12. Most vegetable variants of yogurt meet these requirements, such as soy yogurt, almond yogurt and oat yogurt, but yogurt based on coconut often contains more saturated fats than the requirement set by the Netherlands Nutrition Center. This is because the coconut itself contains a lot of fat.

4. Is vegetable yogurt sustainable?

  1. It can differ per type of vegetable yogurt how sustainable it is and what its impact is on the environment. Various factors contribute to this, such as the effect of manure, greenhouse gases, animal feed, transport and water consumption. In 2016, the Nature and Environment Foundation researched the sustainability of yogurts. Ten types of yogurt, including soy yogurt, coconut yogurt, different types of cow yogurt and goat yogurt, were tested on various environmental and animal welfare themes. The best in the test, namely with a 9.5, was soy yogurt. In terms of the environment, this vegetable variant scores a 9 and animal welfare even a 10. This is because the soy that is used for human consumption comes from areas in Europe and North America where no forestry clearing has taken place for cultivation. Coconut yogurt has the lowest environmental score, because a lot of coconuts are needed for a cup of coconut yogurt: for one kilo of coconut milk, almost one kilo of coconut is needed. In the case of soy, this is 0.08 kilos of soy per kilogram of soy yogurt. Cow and goat yogurt were divided from the test. Where soy yogurt is number 1 with a 9.5, the number 2, organic low-fat cow yogurt, received a 6.6. It was concluded that an organic label is always better, but that a lower fat percentage also ensures a better environmental score. The animal products score lower on animal welfare than the vegetable products, although the organic cow yoghurts still receive a 7 in this area. Goat yogurt, together with full-fat pasture milk yogurt, came out worst in the test: they scored an average of 5.2.

5. Where can you buy vegetable yoghurt?

  1. Vegetable yoghurt can be found in almost every supermarket. This often involves soy-based yogurt, but the larger supermarkets also offer coconut yogurt and almond yogurt. You can also buy these products in most organic stores.

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