Last Updated on August 27, 2023
Is olive oil vegan? This is a hot topic debated among vegans, and for good reasons.
After all, olive oil is a natural product made from olives, and olives are plants. So, why some vegans avoid it?
Is Olive Oil Vegan?
Olive oil is made through a grinding process. The process starts with grinding olives into a thin paste and separating the oil from the ground olives.
Olives are fruits grown from olive trees and are naturally plant-based.
So the simple answer is: Yes, olive oil is vegan. In fact, olives and olive oil are popular vegan staples.
Olive oil is a vegetable oil and brings many health benefits to the vegan diet including healthy fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.
There are different grades of olive oil: Olive oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Virgin olive oil has no chemical treatment, meaning virgin olive oil does not use a chemical treatment to alter the pH and acidity levels.
It is not a refined oil meaning it stays in its pure state with no changes to the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is a higher quality oil that vegan recipes utilize most. Its production is similar to virgin oil production with no changes in its color, smell, or taste.
The main difference between virgin olive oils and extra virgin olive oils is their acidity grade.
Extra virgin olive oil has a low acidity that has a slightly sweeter taste than virgin olive oil. Virgin olive oil has a higher acidity taste and is best for adding fatty flavor to a dish.
Is Olive Oil A Seed Oil?
Olive oil comes from the smashing and grinding of the olive fruit. This means that olive oil is not a seed oil.
Canola oil and sesame oils extract oils directly from their seed. However, coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil are pressed directly from the fruit’s flesh.
So Olive Oil Is Vegan, But Why Some Vegans Avoid It?
Vegans avoid olive oil for a variety of reasons, but the top three are environmental impact, low smoke point for cooking, and personal preference.
This is the main reason why some vegans avoid olive oil.
As more and more people learn about the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the environment, they are turning to veganism in an effort to reduce their impact.
However, not all vegan foods are created equal when it comes to their environmental impact.
For example, while olive oil is a popular vegan cooking oil, it can actually have a negative impact on the environment due to the way it is produced.
The production of olive oil can lead to deforestation.
Olive oil is typically made from olives that are grown in monocultures, which means that large tracts of land are devoted to a single crop.
This type of farming can lead to soil erosion and depletion, as well as water shortages.
What’s more, olive trees require a lot of chemicals and pesticides to grow, which can further harm the environment (Source: ScienceDirect).
Another reason vegans avoid olive oil is that it takes a lot of water to produce.
In fact, it takes about 5,000 liters (1,320 gallons) of water to produce one liter (about 0.26 gallons) of olive oil.
This water consumption can lead to water scarcity in areas where olives are grown.
Finally, many vegans avoid olive oil because the harvesting process can displace animals from their homes.
For example, in order to harvest olives, farmers often clear large areas of land, which can destroy the habitats of wild animals.
Low Smoke Point for Cooking
Olive oil is great for salads. But due the low smoke point of olive oil makes it unsafe to cook with recipes that require high heat.
The higher cooking temperature causes olive oil to smoke at dangerous levels.
Plus, the higher temps required to cook olive oil against raw dishes remove the nutritional content like omega-3 fatty acids and minerals.
PBWF (Plant-Based Whole Food) diets are popular among vegans who avoid all types of oil.
Other vegans use olive oil for plant-based recipes that require sautéing or light frying.
Nevertheless, using olive oil for deep-frying or roasting at high temperatures is not recommended.
Finally, because of the many healthy food alternatives on the market, vegans and plant-based eaters no longer depend on olive oil as the holy grail for cooking.
Many recipes now incorporate coconut oil, grape seed oil, and avocado oil with superb results!
Forgot to mention, coconut oil has an amazing smoke point and taste.
6 Olive Oil Replacements
If you are looking for additional cooking oils to add to your vegetarian, plant-based, or vegan lifestyle then consider the following:
- Coconut oil– works best for sweet items such as desserts, sweets, baked goods, and sugary breakfast items.
- Avocado oil– works best with light fare that requires full-fat flavors.
- Grape seed oil– is perfect for baking but not for frying.
- Peanut oil– is amazing for frying and cooking meals in high temperatures. It’s widely used in Asian stir-fries.
- Safflower oil– works for both sweets and basic meals but doesn’t have a heavy-fat flavor.
- Cashew oil– is not good for frying, but is amazing for baked goods, snacks, and meals regarding high-fat.
Other Oils To Avoid
- Palm Oil– Palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit, which grows on the African oil palm tree. Palm oil is a popular cooking oil in many parts of the world, but it has come under fire in recent years for its environmental impact. Palm oil production is responsible for deforestation, habitat loss, and climate change, and so many people are now avoiding it.
- Canola Oil– Canola oil is made from genetically modified canola plants. These plants have been altered in a lab to be resistant to herbicides and pests. GMO canola oil is not safe for the environment. It can contaminate non-GMO crops and damage the environment.
- Sunflower oil– Sunflower oil is extracted from sunflower seeds and is commonly used in cooking and frying. Although it is a natural product, sunflower oil has a negative impact on the environment. The production of sunflower oil requires a large amount of water and energy, which can lead to water shortages and air pollution. In addition, the use of pesticides and fertilizers in sunflower production can pollute waterways.
- Sesame Oil– It is popular in Asian cuisine and used in many cosmetic products. The main problem with sesame oil is that it has a high environmental impact. Sesame oil production requires a lot of water and energy. In addition, the manufacturing process results in air and water pollution. The waste from sesame oil production is often dumped in rivers and oceans, causing further environmental damage.
In short, olive oil is vegan. However, olive oil should be used sparingly and if you wish to continue using olive oil, you should investigate the land more deeply to see if any measures are being taken to prevent a lasting impact on the environment.
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