Is palm oil vegan? By Tod Bradbury

Palm oil is quite a controversial topic; whilst it is ‘vegan’ in that that it doesn’t contain any animal products, there are issues involved in its production that we should consider.

Palm oil is often found in ‘processed’ foods – such as biscuits, some peanut butters and margarines.

The environmental implications involved in palm oil production should not be ignored. Vast amounts of rainforests, mostly in South East Asia, are destroyed in order to plant palm oil plantations.

No doubt you will have seen the heart-breaking images of orang-utans and other animals whose homes have been destroyed for palm oil production; and let’s not forget the implications of deforestation on climate change. So it is very clear to see why some people choose to avoid palm oil and products that contain it.

But it is also worth noting that because palm is such a high –yielding crop, if producers were to switch to another oil production, this could result in more of the above effects. Additionally, palm oil is also used in bio-fuel –  half of palm oil imports in the EU are used for bio-fuel, although thankfully the EU has said that it will be phasing out palm-oil use in bio-fuels, with an end to such use by 2020.

The Summer Vegan Pledge exists to share information about plant-based eating, in order to make the transition to veganism easier. Indeed, some may find the idea of removing animal products from one’s diet difficult and ‘restricting’ enough, without having to worry about other products which aren’t of animal origin.

All food production does have some impact on the environment and animals, but it is important that we reduce this as much as possible. Animal farming is one of the biggest causes of deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions globally, not to mention the suffering it causes animals. Therefore, it is vital to end our reliance on animal products. Of course, once you have got the vegan thing down, the next logical step would be to start addressing other issues of concern.

Other useful links!

Should vegans eat palm oil?
An inconvenient truth: Vegan products and palm oil
Orangutanuary: Palm oil free vegan foods (UK)