Is Palm Oil Vegan? – 2023

Palm oil seems to be one of the most common ingredients out there. It seems nearly impossible to flip over a package, read the ingredients, and not see this included in the list. As we stand there in the store looking at this ingredient list, we are often left wondering, is palm oil vegan? 

It seems simple enough. Palm trees typically grow coconuts, dates, and açai berries, among other things. Another thing they grow is oil palm fruit. Because palm oil comes from this fruit called oil palms that grow on palm trees, one would assume that it is vegan-friendly.

Unfortunately, the creation of palm oil causes a lot of damage to the earth and nonhuman animals, leading a lot of vegans to avoid it. So, what’s the deal with this oil? Is palm oil vegan? Let’s find out.

Is palm oil vegan?

Palm oil is vegan in a dietary sense. It is entirely plant-based, meaning no animal products or by-products are used in the creation process. Just because it is free of animal products does not mean that it is vegan in an ethical sense.

It can be difficult for people to wrap their heads around the fact that palm oil might not be vegan, even though it is plant-based. If you are not vegan for the animals and are comfortable eating anything that doesn’t come from animals regardless of the impact it has on the plant, feel free to eat this oil. 

If you are an ethical vegan, keep reading before you make up your mind about this plant-based oil.  

Palm oil is one of the most popular ingredients out there and it can be hard to escape. 

Around 54 million metric tons of this oil are produced each year… crazy right? There are many reasons why that number is so large. 

Palm oil is a neutral-tasting oil that can be harvested all year. It happens to be the cheapest vegetable oil to produce and refine. Because of these qualities and how low-cost it is, it has made its way into countless products. Palm oil is found in cooking oil, margarine, foods, ice cream, detergents, soap, and beauty products. Around 50% of the goods used in the United States every day contain palm oil. 

How does palm oil impact the environment?

There is a large demand for palm oil because it is found in so many products throughout the world. This demand leads to large amounts of production that the earth can’t really keep up with. 

The palm trees that grow oil palms can only be grown in tropical environments. This has led to deforestation and the destruction of the rainforest. Previous studies suggested that 98% of the forest may be destroyed by the end of this year.

is palm oil vegan

How does palm oil harm animals?

According to WWF, many endangered species are threatened by unsustainable palm oil. We’re talking about orangutans, elephants, rhinos, and tigers.

You may remember this commercial from Greenpeace International. Things really haven’t gotten any better since it came out. More than 85% of the palm oil used throughout the world is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. These places are the only remaining home for orangutans. Now, less than 80,000 orangutans are alive today thanks to their habitats being destroyed by deforestation.

That just goes into detail on one kind of animal, but this is the reality for many

Is sustainable palm oil vegan?

In theory, sustainable palm oil is more vegan-friendly than regular palm oil. Some companies have pledged to only use 100% sustainably produced palm oil. This sends a great message to other companies, but the system is not perfect yet. 

There has been a rise in creating palm oil in more sustainable ways, which is great, but this process is in no way perfect. According to a report from Greenpeace about the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), many openly disregard laws that are in place.

Hopefully, in the future, we can perfect sustainable palm oil practices to ensure that the environment and animals are protected. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Palm oil is entirely plant-based and is considered vegan in a dietary sense. However, palm oil does a lot of harm to the environment and animals which is hard to ignore as an ethical vegan.

Palmer’s coconut oil lip balm is free of animal ingredients and animal testing making it safe for vegans. This product uses coconut oil and not palm oil, so don’t be fooled by the name. 

Palm oil is responsible for mass deforestation and destroying the habitat of many animals. This negative impact leads many people to believe that palm oil is not vegan. 

Palm oil is often used in vegan food. It can be made sustainably, and when done so, it is safe for all vegans to consume.

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Cruelty Free Reviews

CrueltyFreeReviews serves as a digital guide and a handy manual for new vegans and experienced plant-based veterans alike. Founded back in 2018 by a group of plant-based enthusiasts, we are dedicated to a vegan lifestyle and animal rights. With our team having more than 10 years of plant-based guidance experience by now, we want to give back to the vegan community and support anyone on this journey.