Almond Milk Has Been Popular For Longer Than You Think

Plant-based milks have witnessed extreme growth in popularity as wholesome replacements to cow milk, which has been heavily consumed by humans for centuries, as per Science. Cashew milk, oat milk, hazelnut milk, coconut milk, walnut milk, soy milk, almond milk, and other varieties are typically enjoyed by people who are lactose intolerant, adhere to a vegan diet, or simply want to limit their dairy intake. In fact, these alternatives currently represent about 10% of the global milk market, according to Dairy Foods, with no signs of stopping. However, even though nut milk may seem like a wildly innovative category in the eyes of many American consumers, these products are nothing new.

Almond milk is the frontrunner of the subset, accounting for two-thirds of its sales. But some people may not realize that almond milk has been around for quite a long time. How long, exactly? Let's just say that people went absolutely nuts about it (pun intended) in ancient Arabia and medieval Europe (via Discover).

Almond milk was a crowd favorite during the Middle Ages – and even earlier

The European Middle Ages, which spanned between 500 to 1500 CE, is an era that has been studied in history classes as a time of cultural and political reorganization, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. During this iconic millennium, the people of Europe expanded their palates by introducing new foods from far and wide to their diets. According to a number of experts, this shift included the inception of almond milk, which has roots that likely trace back to the Middle East. Vahid Karizaki, a renowned historian at Quchan University of Technology, notes there were references to almond milk in the "Al-Risalah al-Dhahabiah," a famous 8th-century Islamic medical book (via Discover). "Almond milk is recommended as a cough treatment and also a treatment for shortness of breath in this book," Karizaki explains.

Thanks to Middle Eastern trades, almond milk eventually made its way over to Europe, where it became a culinary sensation along with other spices and crops. It has been found that almond milk appeared in European cookbooks written back in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was a common ingredient in many recipes for Lent, the 40 days observed before Easter Sunday, during which animal byproducts are forbidden by practicing Christians. So, next time you add almond milk to your cereal or coffee, remember that you're consuming a product that made its debut thousands of years ago.