Palm oil. How negative is it really?

The great palm oil debate has been going on long before Veganism was even a thought in mind. When you discuss being Vegan with a fellow Veg friend, more than likely, they will ask “So do you consume palm oil?”

But what is palm oil exactly?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fruit of oil palms. It has a higher yield than other vegetable oils and can be used in a variety of products, making the desire for it all the greater. It’s found in just about everything. From chocolate to lipstick to bio-diesel. It’s almost impossible to avoid. 

Why is it such a bad thing?

Palm oil is said to be one of the top three contributors to deforestation in Indonesia. In order to clear areas of forest land, fires are set, releasing carbon into the atmosphere. 

The rain-forest in Sumatra, Indonesia is the only place left in the world where Orangutans, Rhinos, Tigers, bears and elephants can be found in one place. This, however, is being threatened by the palm oil industry.

There has been a 50% decrease in the Orangutan population within the last 65 years. That’s so crazy to even think about! So many animals have lost their homes due to the growing palm oil industry.

In addition to the loss of habitats, villagers have been pushed off of their farming lands and cultural sites have been lost. 

These are just a few of the negative effects that palm oil production has on  the environment, the animals and of course the people. 

How can we reduce our impact?

Do some more research 

Now, this is an obvious one but you can dig a bit deeper into things and learn more about the industry. After all, education is key. 

Read labels

When shopping, you can simply read the labels and figure out what contains palm oil and what doesn’t. Then, you can start looking for and researching brands that offer products without palm oil. Some labels that state ‘vegetable oil’ may suggest that there may be palm oil in there. So when possible, purchase items that state the specific type of oil being used e.g. Canola oil or Sunflower oil. 

Learn about sustainable palm oil

Yes. sustainable palm oil is a thing. But sadly, less than 7% of palm oil production is sustainable. If it is sustainable however, the packing will state so. 

Inform others

The negative impact that the palm oil industry is not common knowledge. I certainly didn’t even notice that the products I was eating contained palm oil. Maybe because I was never looking for it? But once you know, you know. And in addition to reducing your own intake, you can inform others and encourage them to reduce theirs. Maybe even offer some tips of your own. 

What is your take on palm oil and the industry? Let me know

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Other posts you may enjoy:

A gift guide for the budding environmentalist 

International Coastal Cleanup 2018

12 years to halt climate change

Until next time,


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