Is Palm Oil Vegan?

Palm oil is a contentious subject and many people believe that the consumption of palm oil is not in line with the ethos of veganism, so I hope to address some of these issues.

Firstly, let’s define veganism. As per the Vegan Society’s definition, veganism is ‘a way of living that seeks to avoid, as far as is possible and practicable, the 

exploitation and abuse of animals.’ It is absolutely possible to extend this to non-animal derived products that could be considered environmentally destructive and cause habitat loss for wild animals.


Many people who oppose palm oil talk about how the production of it leads to vast swathes of deforestation, resulting in habitat loss and death for many wild
animals – including those threatened with extinction.

However, the issue isn’t as simple as it may seem. Many conservation and environmental groups agree that the problem isn’t palm oil itself, but rather unsustainable palm oil production – and that a blanket boycott of palm oil is not the solution. 


Deforestation-free palm oil

Instead of a blanket boycott of palm oil, conservation groups instead call for consumers to support producers of sustainable palm oil. This means only buying palm oil that is certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and checking with organisations like the Palm Oil Innovation Group.

So is palm oil vegan?

Whilst the above doesn’t cover nearly a fraction of the arguments for and against, I believe palm oil produced to RSPO deforestation-free standards is suitable for a vegan lifestyle. The best step forward is to support companies who use certified and guaranteed deforestation-free palm oil, NGOs who work with producers to end deforestation – and ensure you avoid those companies using unsustainable palm oil, but also remember to urge them to switch!


Ultimately, this is a topic that each individual needs to decide for themselves. There are people who would still want to avoid palm oil completely – and it is absolutely possible to eat vegan whilst avoiding palm oil.


Further reading

Sumatran Orangutan Society:

What is sustainable palm oil?: