Since 2019,  all hot drinks purchased on site at our flagship event, Shambala Festival, have been entirely free of cow’s milk. Instead, all of Shambala’s traders offer a range of dairy-free, plant based milks. Explore how we did this, and the impacts and audience reaction, below.

Update: In 2022 we took another step – conscious that our oat milk supplies were using thousands of Tetrapak cartons. So, instead, we sourced our oat milk from a super local, sustainable producer (Wild & Furrow) in reusable bottles, cutting out the Tetrapak middle man. Check the video to find sourcing oat milk from a local sustainable producer in reusable bottles, cutting out thousands of Tetrapaks. In this film, Miles from Wild & Furrow spills the details.

The Brief

Removing cow’s milk from all the hot drinks served at our flagship festival, Shambala, to lower the environmental impact of our on-site hot drinks, and to show our audience how little changes, like reducing your dairy intake and swapping to plant based milks, can make a huge difference.

The Process

First, we did our research. The sustainability of any plant based milks are dependent on crop type, supply chain, travel miles and individual brand ethics. We did our research, and trawled the Ethical Consumer ratings, before deciding on the most sustainable options – in a nutshell, oat, coconut, (European grown) soy and hemp are on the menu – rice and almond milk are not. You can deep delve into the impacts of these various plant based milks in more detail, over on the Shambala website, here.

Every non-dairy option has it’s pros and cons, but the science shows that even keeping the negatives in mind, cow’s milk is by far the worst for overall environmental impacts – and (whilst this is an environmental initiative for us rather than an ethical one) it seems important to at least mention the brutal reality of most dairy farms. If you want to go down that particular rabbit hole, you can do so here.

We took our audience and crew with us on our journey, sharing our research, explaining our decisions and surveying them post-event, to see how it all went down.


The Result

We’re saving nearly two olympic swimming pools worth of water a year!

  • The production of an average pint of dairy milk requires around 1020 litres of water whereas oat milk only requires 150 litres.
  • As a result of making the switch, we have reduced the water impact of our supply chain alone by 4,927,680 litres!
  • That’s nearly enough to fill two Olympic size swimming pools, per year.

We cut emissions by at least half!

  • In terms of carbon impact (CO2e emissions) the average production and transportation of a litre of dairy milk produces is at least double for cows milk compared to oat milk.

But would it all turn sour on site – how would people react to us messing with that most beloved of British institutions; the humble brew?

    • Half of our audience (46.4%) reported that ‘they didn’t notice the difference’ – showing just how easy it is to make the switch.
    • We discovered after surveying our audience that 40% of them don’t drink cow’s milk anyway – showing just how normalised plant based milks are becoming.
    • 24% of our audience (and 26% of our crew) said they intended to reduce their dairy intake