If you've given up dairy in a quest to be a little kinder to the planet, we've got bad news. Your almond milk latte obsession may be doing more harm than good.
Billions of bees across the US are dying reportedly due to the booming popularity of the almond milk industry - despite being essential to the growing process.
According to The Guardian, during the US winter of 2018/2019 more than 50 billion bees were reportedly wiped out - more than six times the world's human population and a third of commercial US colonies.
The high demand of producing almond milk is one cause, placing strain on the hives of bees used to pollinate the orchards.
"The high mortality rate creates a sad business model for beekeepers," Nate Donley, a senior scientist for the Centre for Biological Diversity, told the newspaper. "It's like sending the bees to war. Many don't come back."
According to environmentalists, it's down to the bees being denied a biodiverse landscape to thrive in, instead forced to participate in the industrialisation of one of nature's most delicate natural processes.
In the 2019 survey from the University of Maryland, quoted by the Guardian, beekeepers reported the highest winter loss since the annual survey began 13 years ago. However that report quoted the main threat against the bee population as varroa mites, lethal parasites which have been decimating colonies for years, with institutions like the University of Maryland actively researching ways to combat them.
The news of the doomed bee population has triggered a wave of chastising of the almond industry. Unsurprisingly, notorious anti-vegan broadcaster Piers Morgan weighed in, saying in a tweet that "the mass slaughter of billions of bees is on YOU vegans [and] vegetarians".
"Your 'animal ethics' don't extend to the little guys," he added.
He doubled down on his show Good Morning Britain on Wednesday morning (local time), saying; "The vegans don't care about the billions of bees that get killed every year, the billions of insects that get killed in the pollination process, they don't care. "
According to Neilson, from 2015 to 2017 New Zealanders' consumption of almond milk more than doubled, becoming the third-largest segment nationally and accounting for more sales than the remaining alternative milk options combined.
Luckily there are other alternatives to almond milk if you don't want to go back to dairy. According to a BBC graph showing the environmental impact of different kinds of milk, soy and oat milks are more sustainable options.