How To Get Enough Calcium On A Plant-Based Diet

Got Milk? Many of us know that meat production is a large driver of climate change, but how does dairy fit into the equation?

Livestock emissions account for at least 15% of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions. This equates to more emissions than the entire global transport network. And as population rises, it's predicted that so too will our consumption of dairy. That means more emissions and more harm to our planet.

The 270 million dairy cows living on earth today are not only responsible for methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Cattle raising is largely to blame for 20 per cent of the Amazon rainforest being destroyed, a wonder of the world often referred to as the "lungs of the earth". Dairy cows are also contributing to a growing global waste problem. It is estimated that one cow produces the same amount of waste as 164 people!

The dairy industry's water footprint may be even larger than its carbon footprint. Dairy cows require more than double the amount of water that a non-lactating cow does and it is estimated that it takes 144 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk.

It's undeniable that dairy production is harming our planet, but we can't just cut dairy out of our diets can we? The health benefits of dairy products are indisputable. Milk and yoghurt are fantastic sources of calcium, an important mineral for strengthening teeth and bones and warding off illnesses such as osteoporosis. Despite what the dairy industry will have us believe though, we really can maintain strong bones and teeth without the consumption of any dairy products.

Here are 5 delicious plant-based foods which contain loads of calcium and inflict a fraction of the impact on the planet.


When I first heard about kale 'the superfood' I was skeptical to say the least. What is a superfood anyway? Putting my skepticism aside though, I tried the leafy green and although it wasn't love at first taste, I grew to appreciate the vegetable for what it is, a versatile, tasty (if cooked in the right way) and extremely nutritious plant-based food.

According to the USDA, a cup of kale contains more calcium than a cup of cow's milk does! It also contains almost all of your recommended daily vitamin C intake and double your recommended vitamin A intake. I guess they don't call it a superfood for nothin'!

If you're after a healthy snack, kale chips are nutritious, delicious and are really easy to make. Kale stems can be sauteed, pickled or barbequed for a delicious lunch or dinner.


Sometimes referred to as "lady's fingers", okra is a great source of vitamin C and folates, and just a handful of these elegantly shaped vegetables will give you almost 10 per cent of your daily calcium intake.


If you're reducing your dairy intake, increasing broccoli's presence in your life is a great way to boost your calcium intake. Because the vegetable is also a good source of iron and Vitamin C, it's a fantastic staple for vegetarians and vegans.

Simply boiled or steamed, broccoli can be a little bland. So if you'd like inspiration for your next broccoli based meal, why not try a crunchy broccoli salad or charred broccoli with roasted garlic coconut cream. Also, if you're a bit of a cheese fanatic like I am, 'cheezy' broccoli soup is a great reminder that you don't need dairy products to get your cheese fix.

Dried figs and apricots

For the common sweet tooth, just a handful of dried figs and apricots can provide a large amount of your recommended daily calcium intake. These fruits are often recommended to osteoporosis patients to increase calcium intake and are not just good for a snack. Dried figs and apricots taste great in a salad, they can be baked into bread to make delicious fruit toast, or added to your morning cereal.

Dairy is undoubtedly contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, global waste and water depletion and the problem is growing. It's not all bad news though! Plants can provide us with all the nutrients we need to live healthy and happy lives and they're versatile and delicious!

[Updated: 16/08/2018]

Read this next: How To Become A Vegetarian When You Love Meat

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