Palm oil has invaded the public debate for many years. Criticized by many for its strong environmental impact, it remains the most consumed oil despite everything. About 25% of world consumption of vegetable oil.
Although its production does not require the direct exploitation of an animal, palm oil is considered by many vegans to be a non-vegan product.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is extracted from the pulp of oil palm fruits by a hot pressing process. These trees are very profitable in terms of production since they can last more than thirty years and produce several tens of kilos of oil per year.
Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s leading producers.
Where palm oil is used
Given the growing demand for this product, which is found in many everyday products (Nutella, many ice creams, KitKat, M&M’S, Kinder chocolates, etc.), it is always necessary to make more room to plant oil palms. This need for space inevitably leads to ever more aggressive deforestation of the Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests. As these forests are burned, they also release a high level of CO2 into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to global warming.
What are the impacts of Palm oil
The environmental impact does not stop at the release of CO2. The monoculture imposed by the production of palm oil contributes to the impoverishment of the soil, and its exploitation generates heavy pollution of the rivers. This ecological impact of palm oil particularly affects the indigenous populations living near these rivers.
The other victims of this exploitation are the animals, and in particular, the Bornean orangutans, hard hit by the destruction of their habitat. Their population would have decreased by 60% in 60 years, according to figures from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), and a decrease of 22% is expected by 2025. Between 1,000 and 5,000 orangutans die every year due to deforestation. The hope has become the symbol of the fight against palm oil and its destructive effects. But other animals are seriously impacted by this production: the IUCN estimates that 193 species would be threatened by the destruction of these forests.
Palm oil is not vegan.
After analyzing the different environmental impacts of palm oil production, it seems clear that this product is not vegan if we deviate slightly from the strict definition of veganism.
Although palm oil is not extracted from an animal, its consumption leads to the disappearance of many species and, therefore, cannot be considered a cruelty-free product.
The alternative of “sustainable” palm oil is not really an option. It, therefore, remains only to eliminate as much as possible the consumption of this product, which is unfortunately found in many vegan products.