The negative effects of palm oil on our environment and the habitats of local populations of humans and non-humans in palm producing regions is detailed in many places. Like here and here. As a May 2010 piece in The Atlantic concludes, palm oil is”… wreaking havoc on the environment.”
As responsible consumers, we have a decision to make – do we or don’t we consume products containing palm oil. I see this as very unfair. Why should we take on this burden. Those of use that are vegan find ourselves faced with a particularly tough choice. The most popular, palatable and healthy options to dairy products available in stores contain palm. Having chosen to reduce our impact on the environment and respect all life, we have elected a vegan lifestyle. We have gotten used to the joys of vegan alternatives and now we are learning many of them are not so vegan after all.
So what are we going to do? I think it is important that we let these manufacturers know that we can no longer support their products if they do not come up with new products that respect our vegan values. We need to support companies that do not use palm in their products. Our beloved Daiya cheese heard our concerns and took the palm out of their products. Wayfare Foods provides some good palm free options and is discussing a new margarine that will be palm free. Now we’re talking!
We need to continue to let the manufacturers of palm containing (so-called) vegan products know that we will no longer ignore their use of palm. We need to come together and make a statement. We need to use our voices to create a popular movement to make this issue the manufacturer’s responsibility, not ours.
Earth Balance is the most popular “vegan” butter alternative on the market. The manufacturers of Earth Balance have offered us a product they say contains palm oil that is responsibly sourced. The comments section of this post contains a few very crucial points that expose the inaccuracies of Earth Balance’s claims. It appears Earth Balance is trying, just not hard enough.
I have written to Earth Balance with my concerns. I used this email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, which Earth Balance gave me via twitter when I asked them if they had any products without palm oil in them. I asked politely and received no reply.
It is time for us to put down the Earth Balance – and other palm containing products – until they respond to our concerns with a truly vegan product. We will no longer be complicit in their use of ingredients that we as responsible consumers think are inappropriate. We know that if they put their creative processes to work, they can come up with a tasty palm free alternative.
There are several really nice “cream cheese” (one example) and “sour cream” (one example) recipes available on the internet. This is surely no where near as convenient as running to the store. At Gone Pie we have been making “sour cream” and “cream cheese” for our products for a while now. This makes sense. We are a bakery and have all day to do this kind of prep work. It may seem daunting to folks at home to do the same. Please look at these recipes. They are so easy. And you will find it is SO much cheaper to make your own! Using home made versions just requires a little planning ahead.
There are also margarine recipes I have found on the internet, but none I am willing to recommend. I am maybe two steps away from fine tuning mine and I will publish it here when I do. It has a strong coconut taste and is no where near as neutral as Earth Balance in flavor. It works for our purposes in baking, but isn’t nearly as good a solution as the public deserves. And, in all fairness, I must admit I have never made a margarine based frosting in my life, so I have no idea how it will work in frosting recipes.
What about frosting?!?! I didn’t make butter cream before I was vegan, and I don’t make the vegan counter part now. But if your tastes are a bit more normal than mine, you crave it! There are several recipes out there for coconut oil based frostings. If you want some frosting, you can make it happen! Check out “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” for a good coconut based frosting. I’m sure there are others out there.
The point of all this is to say, we need an option and we need the companies that claim to cater to us to realize we are serious. Come on folks. What do you say? Let’s speak up for what we want! And until these companies respond positively, we will work around their products and continue to create fantastic and tasty cruelty free food. These companies need us far more than we need them!
And now I am going to have a palm free chocolate sour cream cupcake and a cup of tea….