Technically speaking, palm oil is vegan. It is derived from the fruit of the palm tree, so it is a plant-based product.
The controversy around palm oil, however, does not relate to its origin but more so to the farming practices which are involved when producing this product. Most of the world's palm oil comes from plantations in South East Asia, namely Indonesia and Malaysia. The problem is that to establish these plantations, palm oil companies destroy forests and peatlands in areas such as Sumatra and Borneo.
These forests are habitats for many different species of mammals such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and rhinos, as well as many species of fish and birds. As these forests are destroyed, so are the habitats for these animals, some of which are facing extinction.
Plus the draining and burning of peatlands cause insurmountable suffering for these animals as they try to flee the fires. And to add to this, poaching is rife in these areas adding further to the reduction of the animal population. Not to mention the tremendous amount of carbon gasses which are released into the atmosphere when the peat is burned.
The sad reality is that palm plantations could be established on non-forested land thus reducing the need for deforestation or sourced from native palm plantations in West Africa, for example.
So in conclusion, although palm oil is technically vegan, many vegans choose to avoid it as its production is causing animal suffering, abuse, and possible extinction.
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Written by Rachel Adams | 01-30-2017
Written by Rachel Adams
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