Palm oil is one of the main contributors to deforestation. It has been introduced to Indonesia and Malaysia, through mass plantations that destroy animal habitats. Deforestation is often caused by simply cutting down trees but in some cases, (true jungle book style) they are burned. This has led to the death of many animals and extreme pollution in places such as Singapore. In 2013, this was so dangerous that children were advised to stay inside to protect themselves from unclean air.
It seems pretty ridiculous that this is happening when we know about the effects that it has on our people and animals. So why is it continuing? Palm fruit produces larger amounts of oil than its competitors (coconut oil and vegetable oil). hence it is mass-planted to obtain the enormous volume of oil that is consumed today. It is often justified as it provides jobs for the locals, but these jobs are paid minimally and have been reported to encourage child labour. Like most things, the reason that it remains today is that we continue to buy it.
So, use your people power! Say piss off to palm oil to help reduce the deforestation that is occurring because of it.
Cutting Out Palm Oil
Cutting out palm oil is a pain…. it can be found in approximately half your supermarkets goods and is often hidden under a multitude of names. If you can’t be arsed to rummage through everything, take a trip to Iceland who have banned palm oil completely! However, if your visiting a more local supermarket things can take a little more time.
The easiest way to do this is to do your shopping online. This way you have access to all the products and can do a quick ingredient check. You’ll also get bonus green points for supporting 1 delivery van doing the rounds versus 50 cars travelling to the store and back!
Check out this link if you want to find out which products contain palm oil, and other names it hides under.
Making food from scratch is another simple way to get around palm oil. Instead of buying your ready made spaghetti bol sauce, buy some chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic and whatever else ya fancy. This way you can take control of the ingredients in your cooking. But let’s not kid ourselves, we are all going to have a lazy day (at least one!) so pizzas, sauces and ready-made food are going to find themselves in our basket.
For these you will need to check out the label. Palm oil has made its way into some food that you wouldn’t even think of (bread was the biggest surprise for me!) so double check the items you are buying.
The hardest place to avoid palm oil is shower products. Many stores do not sell shower products that do not contain palm oil or a derivative of it. One of the best and cheapest way to avoid this is to buy shampoo and soap bars. You can find them here for just over £2. They last longer than soap and shampoo and are often cheaper!
We did a hefty 2-week food shop for two that cost £32 from Asda – palm oil free!
- Chicago town pizza
- Sweet potato
- Mushroom Crisp bake
- Frozen fruit
- Veg stock (not all are palm oil free!)
- Tomato puree
- Bread (weight watchers was only palm free option)
- Coconut milk
- Green curry paste
- Puff pastry
Meals: Green thai curry , spaghetti, sweet potato boats, mushroom bakes and veg, curry, fajitas, frittatas, buddha bowl, pizza. Most of these will be used twice or provide leftovers for lunches! Not bad for a palm oil free shop!
Searching through some items for palm oil did take longer than usual. But adding an extra 10 minutes to your online shop seems like a small price to pay to reduce the amount of deforestation occurring as a result of palm oil.
Follow this link to read the previous article in ‘The WILD Life Diaries’.
About the Author: Charlie Bedwell is a Psychology graduate from the University of Reading.