You have probably seen Iceland’s Christmas advert, that went viral after being blocked from TV for being too politically motivated.
The advert was about palm oil and the effects that it is having on the environment.
Palm oil is hidden everywhere, from your morning slice of toast to your Friday night ready meal and ice-cream.
Before I get into some top tips, let’s cover some of the basics.
There are ways you can cut down on your palm oil consumption, which not only can help you live a more sustainable lifestyle, but also a healthier one.
First things first, what is palm oil and why is it so controversial?
Palm oil is a saturated vegetable oil that is found in the fruit of oil palms native to West Africa.
Prior to European colonisation of the continent, it was used in foods, medicine and manufacturing. Now, it is transported all across the globe and can be found in a large majority of our favourite foods (Greenpeace have estimated up to 50% of all supermarket products).
So, why is it controversial?
Apart from being incredibly high in fat and linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it is also contributing massively to the destruction of the rainforests, leaving people without homes and putting species such as orangutans (and over 300,000 other species) in danger.
Greenpeace has stated that every 25 seconds rainforests the size of a football pitch are lost in Indonesia due to deforestation.
Top tips for cutting down on your palm oil consumption
Focus your diet around whole, unprocessed foods
Most of the foods palm oil can be found in are processed – pretty much everything on the sweet treat aisle will probably have palm oil in.
If you want to avoid palm oil, you’re therefore better off sticking to foods such as fruits, veggies and grains.
Good for you and for the environment – everyone is a winner.
Cut down on fried foods
As well as focusing your diet around whole foods, you might also want to cut down on your fried food intake as it is very likely it was fried in palm oil (or vegetable oil with traces of palm oil).
Think about your consumption of palm oil outside of the kitchen
Palm oil is not only found in foods.
Cleaning products, shampoos and other beauty products can contain it, so keep an eye out.
Check the labels
Sounds obvious but checking the label for palm oil is a super simple way to help you cut down on your consumption and be more ethically aware of your purchases.
Just watch out! Palm oil is often not called ‘palm oil’ on labels (sneaky).
Look out for ingredients including, but definitely not limited to:
Palm fruit oil
Palm kernel oil