Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the reddish pulp of the palm fruit from a plant native to West and South West Africa, but also in several Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Indonesia (Sumatra). It is use worldwide in foods such as chips, cakes, peanut butter and Oreos, because it is cheap and neutral in taste compared to other vegetable oils. Whether your vegan or not, one thing you should definitely consider is to ditch palm oil. Palm oil is not only an unhealthy fat contains saturated fats, but it also comes at a tremendous cost to the environment. Palm oil has been linked to many environmental, animal, and human rights violations, yet companies continue to use this particular oil in everything from laundry detergent to foods, skin and hygiene care.
Palm contributes to deforstration and extinction
The palm oil industry plays a larger role in human induced climate change as palm oil plantations have cleared some of the worlds most effectively, carbon capturing forests. According to the ‘Say No To Palm Oil’ campaign, every hour an area the size of almost 300 football fields is cleared in Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for palm plantations! This rapid deforestation not only impact the climate, but also poses a very huge threat to endangered species that lives in these tropical areas. Palm oil production in contributing to the extinction of orangutans. Scientists predict that the fragile orangutan population could become extinct within our lifetime if we continue to destroy their natural habitats for palm oil plantations. The Orangutan Conservancy estimates that orangutans have lost over 80 percent of their natural habitat in the last 20 years. Check out the Orangutan Conservancy website to find out how you can help. Orangutans are not the only animals that are at risk of extinction. Only about 400 tigers are left on the island of Sumatra. In 1978, there were estimated to be 1000. Sumatran rhinos are also disappearing with population numbers equally less than 200.
Photo credit: obrag.org
The best thing you can do to ensure that you are not contributing to these injustices with the products you buy is by starting your own boycott of palm oil. To help you decode the many names palm oil is listed under, check out this article from Worldwildlife.org. Some corporations have signed on with the roundtable for sustainable palm oil and promised to source all their palm oil from certified and sustainable sources over the next few years. But until there is evidence that real change has been made to ensure all palm oil is sustainably sourced it is a good idea to avoid buy products that contain palm oil all together.
Photo credit: orangutan.com