Oil is one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking as it is needed for all sorts of different recipes. Olive oil is recommended in a lot of Mediterranean recipes and can be used as a substitute for other types of oil. But is olive oil suitable for vegans? How is it made? And what is it made of? Keep reading to find out more about olive oil and why some vegans choose to avoid it.
Is Olive Oil Suitable For Vegans?
The simple answer is yes, olive oil is suitable for vegans. It does not contain any animal products which means it is suitable for people on a vegan diet.
Olives are very high in fat, and when their flesh is crushed and processed it releases a flavorsome oil. The amount of olive released per olive is high, which gives olive farmers a high yield.
Even though olive oil is suitable for vegans, some choose not to consume it due to the environmental impact of producing olive oil.
How Is Olive Oil Made?
Olive oil is a healthy source of fat that can be a great ingredient to use if you follow a plant-based diet. But how is it made?
Picking – First, the olives need to be picked. The farmers will regularly pick the olives during growing and harvest to avoid the olives falling to the ground. However, ground olives are also collected. The olives picked from the branches are used to make high-quality olive oil and the ground olives are used to make lower-quality olive oil.
Pressing – Once the olives have been picked, they need to be pressed. This is when they are ground into a paste. They are not pitted first – the stones are included in the paste. A little water is added to ensure that all of the molecules are released.
Second Pressing – The paste is then pressed a second time and passed through a centrifuge. This machine refines the olive oil.
Is Olive Oil Production Bad For The Environment?
Olives have been grown in the Mediterranean for centuries. Olive oil used to be a small batch crop that was farmed and processed using traditional techniques and methods. This had a limited impact on the environment.
As olive oil grew in popularity, more olives had to be grown and the production of oil needed to be extrapolated in order to keep up with the growing demand. The techniques used to grow olives in such large quantities can have a damaging impact on the environment.
How Does Olive Oil Production Harm The Environment?
There are several ways that olive oil production can be harmful to the environment:
- Water – Olive trees are drought resistant and can grow with very little water, which is why they thrive in warm countries. However, when they have plenty of water the olive yield improves. Olive farmers use large quantities of water which can be detrimental to the surrounding area, especially as olives are often grown in locations that are prone to drought.
- Pollution – A lot of farmers use fertilizers to encourage the growth of trees. The fertilizer is often high in nitrogen which pollutes the surface water around the olive farm and finds its way into the local ecosystem. It can have a negative impact on the soil, disrupting the natural PH balance. It can also harm wildlife both on land and in the water.
- Pesticides – Many farmers will choose to use pesticides to protect their crops. The use of pesticides leads to reduced biodiversity and introduces harmful chemicals into the ecosystem.
Why Do Some Vegans Choose Not To Use Olive Oil?
Whether or not a vegan decides to use olive oil will depend on the reason that they choose to live a vegan lifestyle.
If they choose to be vegan because they disagree with the consumption of animal products then they might not have an issue with consuming olive oil. Olive oil doesn’t contain any animal products at all.
If someone chooses to be vegan because of the negative impact that the meat and dairy industry has on the environment then they are more likely to avoid consuming olive oil.
This is because of the damage that olive oil production can cause. They will likely avoid other products like palm oil that are also bad for the environment.
Olive oil is suitable for people on a plant-based diet as it contains no animal products. However, some vegans choose not to use it due to the negative impact that olive oil production has on the environment.