When hubby and I went vegan almost five years ago it was definitely “for the animals”, I’d been raised a vegetarian since birth and it felt like the natural next step. For me any other benefits of veganism, say environmental or health benefits, were just a lucky by-product of my ethical decision to go plant based. (Incidentally it felt to us that about a year after we went vegan it began to march from the fringes to the mainstream in the UK – but we’re not taking the credit for that!).
However, over the years there has been more and more emphasis in the UK media on the environmental benefits of veganism, as well as a real focus on the effects on the environment of single-use plastics and palm oil, in particular, and I know that this has been playing on my husbands mind greatly.
It was whilst we were on holiday this month that we watched a BBC TV programme called, Climate Change – The Facts which again highlighted the environmental impacts of palm oil in a very powerful way, this programme was the final prompt we needed to challenge ourselves to go palm oil free for at least the month of May and hopefully beyond. In fact, some argue that you cannot call yourself vegan if you eat foods with palm oil, even sustainable palm oil, as it cannot be called ‘cruelty free’.
According to Greenpeace:
“An area the size of a football pitch is torn down in Indonesia’s rainforest every 25 seconds, with palm oil driving the destruction. These rainforests are hotspots for biodiversity, and vital for regulating the Earth’s climate.”
and the really scary thing is:
“it’s in 50% of supermarket products – some of which we come across or use everyday like Kit-Kat, Colgate toothpaste, Johnson’s baby lotion, Dove’s soap, Doritos, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Ritz crackers, M&M’s, Head & Shoulders shampoo, and many others!”
Since we made the decision to give up the palm oil we’ve noticed just how many of our vegan favourites it is in, foods such as, vegan spread (I can’t find any that don’t use palm oil), Linda McCartney sausages, gravy granules, biscuits, the list is pretty endless when you start delving.
I think that we are going to be doing a lot more cooking from scratch in May, which can only be a good thing as we have a tendency to fall into the ‘junk food vegan’ category sometimes and it is getting easier everyday to eat convenience food as a vegan.
Wish us luck!
P.S. you can find Greenpeace’s petition on ‘dirty’ palm oil here.