The fact is that palm oil comes from palm tree which would logically make it a vegan product, right? Wrong!
But let me explain. The product — palm oil, palm shortening or anything derived from palm trees — would have been vegan and could have been vegan if only the process were not harming innocent animals.
The palm oil industry is, in fact, a rather nasty one. It destroys rainforests by chopping down millions of trees and then burning them to create noxious greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere. These self-serving actions also destroy the natural habitats of countless species of large animals such as orangutans and small ones such as birds and insects and, of course, all kinds of flora (a.k.a. vegetation). These vast expanses of devastated lands are then densely populated with commercial grade palm trees.
Once these palm plantations begin to thrive and produce, the fruits and kernels are harvested for commercial use (moneymaking enterprises) in countless products such as soaps and washing detergents, chocolates and candy, baked and fried goods, makeup and cosmetics, etc.
As recently as forty years ago, Borneo, whose vast expanses of land make it the third largest island in the world, was densely covered lush rainforests. Tragically, these amazing forest trees are in the process of being chopped down, acre after acre after acre.
Aside for the drastically changed natural topography there are many other more dire consequences to deforestation of Borneo and the impacts are devastating to the global environment and its human and non-human animals who inhabit it. All this, by the way, is also happening in Indonesia, Sumatra and various other places around the world but most particularly the far east.
How does the palm oil industry impact the global environment?
By chopping down the trees or deforesting the rainforests in Borneo, this island’s natural peat swamp forests are also drained and dug up. This process causes enormous quantities of carbon to be emitted into the atmosphere and those are the hugely harmful greenhouse gas that quite literally “cook the climate” and lead to global warming.
On top of that, clearing rainforests drastically and dangerously disturbs the existing ecosystems by permanently destroying the natural flora (plants) and fauna (wild life), and some of them are quite rare. The biodiversity of the rainforest is forever lost when in its stead a single crop is planted — palm trees.
How does the palm oil industry impact the global animals?
As I’ve mentioned already, the heedless actions taken by the palm oil industry, which merely focuses on its own gains and profit lines, lead to the destruction of countless animals as entire species are being ousted from their natural habitats. The biggest tragedy lies in the fact that many of them are already endangered and are now becoming forever extinct: orangutans, Asian elephants, Sumatran rhinos and tigers, and many others. According to Serge Wich of the US Great Ape Trust, orangutans cannot exist without the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra and may be the first of the great-apes to become extinct. What a horrific tragedy that would be!
How does the palm oil industry impact the humans?
The crimes of the greedy palm oil industry do not end with the destruction of animal habitats, indigenous flora and the global environment but it also negatively impacts human beings. Deforestation of rainforests displaces native people from the lands they’ve been inhabiting for many generations and breaks up their strong symbiotic and spiritual relationship with the rainforest and all its contents.
So, is palm oil vegan? No, it is not! Due to the horrific actions taken by the palm industry, any palm products are unethical, immoral and indecent! Please read your product labels and do not, I repeat, please do not purchase anything that contains palm oil or its derivatives such as palm shortening, palm tree extract or any other palm products for that matter.
Of course, some companies claim that the palm oil they use comes from sustainable plantation but that remains to be proven and/or verified. Until then, let us all stop supporting destruction and devastation!
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Filed under: Veganism Around the Globe
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