I recently became aware of a pretty serious issue regarding palm oil which is consumed most notably by vegans in the form of vegan butter, other commercial baked goods, vegan cheeses and spreads, as well as soaps. Popular commercial butters and spreads like Smart Balance and Earth Balance use this ingredient in their products and although they claim to be using sustainable palm oil, I’m a bit skeptical of that.
In short, the obtaining of palm oil has been the root cause of the environmental degradation and deforestation of critical rainforest lands. This increases CO2 emissions, more of which we do not need with the ever present threat of climate change already upon us. It has resulted in habitat loss for endangered species like Sumatran tigers and rhinoceroses, and Borneo orangutans, and home loss for the people who live in the rainforests of Malaysia and Indonesia. Moreover, unfair wages and dangerous work spaces for workers have been documented.
So, as you can see, this is a vegan issue. Ethical veganism is often singularly focused to being about respecting (and acting justly) toward non-human animals, but it’s also about responding to human and environmental rights violations in the same way. Because a large part of veganism is dedicated to focusing on respecting animals–and it’s not a surprise given our global and cultural beliefs that “otherize” non-humans–it obscures or completely neglects the larger focus of veganism which is that of practicing nonviolence.
I know it can seem overwhelming to consider all the aspects of veganism that don’t focus on just not eating animal products, but it gets easier with time (and a little research). Eventually, you find yourself intentionally making really considerate choices and giving your money to companies and organizations that respect animals, the environment, and people too.
I urge my readers to do an internet search to find out more about palm oil and to seek alternatives. Lush, the cosmetics company that makes a good deal of vegan products has provided this easy-read pamphlet on the issue which provides some links for more information as well.
So, in light of this information and the fact that I eat A LOT of toast and enjoy baking quite a bit, I decided to look for commercial palm-oil free vegan butters and I came up lacking, which was sad. But then, I remembered an article I once read about making your own vegan butter. And boy, was I glad I did! Last night, I decided to make my own butter and to my surprise, it came out fabulously! Better yet, this was incredibly easy and not time consuming to make. The ingredients were all very easy to find. They were a bit expensive, but they also came in large quantities so they will last a very, very long time. Here’s the link, which provides recipes for regular butter, coconut butter, garlic butter, herbed butter, and even banana butter! I can’t wait to try them all! I highly recommend getting the silicone ice cube trays for this endeavor. I bought mine at Crate and Barrel, they are also sold at Target and are only $8. Skim through the comments as well for some helpful tips on making your butter the best butter ever!
Start churnin’! And as always, thanks for reading and for being vegan!