Olive oil has a rich history stretching back over 4,000 years and is a primary industry of Lebanon. In the Mediterranean countries, olive oil is a rich part of the diet and provides a wide range of health benefits.
Yet, is Olive oil something a vegan should be using?
The simple answer to that is “Yes”. Olive oil is completely plant-based and okay for vegans. Yet for the more ethical vegans, there could be some issues with supporting the olive oil industry.
Here we will run you through how olive oil is made, moral issues that some people may be concerned about around olive oil production, the health benefits of the oil, and how it is typically used.
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How is Olive Oil made?
Olives are first picked, either mechanically or by hand. Once the olives are harvested they are taken to the production facility where they are then ground into a pulp.
The next step is to place the pulp into a malaxer (which is a steel trough). This part of the process allows the oil droplets to gather together and also is when the flavor and aroma of the oil are developed.
Next, the oil is put into a decanter where centrifugal forces separate the oil from its water content and pulp. The oil is what is deemed “extra virgin”.
Because the oil is taken purely from olives, it is safe for vegans.
Some ethical issues in olive oil production
For some vegans, the manufacturing of oil raises some concerns that may cause one to look at olive oil alternatives.
Portugal’s Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests researchedanimal life bird deaths caused during olive harvesting. This research concluded that at least 2.6 million birds are killed by vacuum machines used to suck the olives from trees. That should shock an animal lover.
There is also the environmental impact. Soil erosion is a major issue around olive oil production. As demand increases for the oil, farms expand and the quality of the soil suffers. The soil becomes less fertile and that can lead to the use of fertilizers and other animal-based products to replenish the soil.
To produce a liter of oil requires 3,900 liters of water. The issue here is with the runoff of the water. It can carry the fertilizer and pesticides used in olive farming into the waterways, polluting rivers and streams. Think what that means for fish and other water-based animal-life affected by the runoff.
These types of issues can mean that many vegans opt for other oil options such as coconut oil, avocado oil, or argan oil.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
There can be no doubt that olive oil is packed with a lot of health and nutritional benefits.
Olive Oil contains monounsaturated fat, which is known to increase HDL levels (the good cholesterol) while reducing LDL (the bad cholesterol). Having a diet that includes healthy fat means that we are offered protection against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Olives are packed with antioxidants which aid in the prevention of inflammation. Antioxidants also can help in lowering the risk of heart disease, strokes, and cancer.
Olive oil is an amazing health booster but, as with anything in life, it needs to be used in moderation. It is high in calories (one tablespoon contains 119 calories) so too much olive oil can see you gaining weight.
Uses of Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the most popular items in any kitchen. It is so versatile and we have seen how it is jam-packed full of health benefits. Let’s run you through some ways you can use olive oil in your diet.
- One 1.5 liter (51 Fl Oz) plastic bottle of Organic Extra virgin Olive Oil
- Mediterranean blend imported from Spain
- Great for roasting, grilling, salad dressings and marinades
There is a belief that you can only use olive oil in low-temperature cooking, due to its smoking point. That idea is a myth and you can use olive oil at higher temperatures without any issues. It has been shown that frying vegetables is better than boiling them. Let your oil reach 350°F (177°C) to 370°F (188°C) and then add your vegetables.
Marinades enhance the flavor of the food you are cooking and Extra Virgin Olive Oil is full of flavor. That means it’s an ideal choice for any marinade you decide to whip up. Here is one recipe from myrecipes.com:
Use 1 part neutral-flavored oil, like canola, to one part extra-virgin olive oil. In terms of where you go from here, you’ll want your marinade ratio to consist of roughly 3 parts oil to 1 part acid.
- ROBUST EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: Expertly crafted by The Olive Oil People, this full-bodied extra virgin olive oil is made from first cold pressed olives, grown and nurtured by our family of farmers.
- FULL-BODIED, ROBUST TASTE: Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oils are ideal for any meal that starts with a sauté and ends with a drizzle. With its robust flavor profile, Pompeian Robust EVOO is perfect for salads and marinades!
- 100% FARMER CRAFTED: Quality from The Olive Oil People since 1906.
Add a bit of zing to your salad with olive oil. It’s pretty straightforward to make an amazing salad dressing with the oil. Try out this recipe:
Use 3 parts of olive oil to 1 part acid (red wine vinegar or citrus acid). Mix and then add in salt, pepper, and mustard.
Drizzle the dressing over your salad and enjoy!
Ice Cream Topping
Pour some olive oil over your ice cream. It makes the ice cream creamier. Top the oil with your favorite candy or salt for extra excitement.
Add some olive oil with garlic, balsamic vinegar, red peppers or garlic, and pepper. Enjoy dipping your crackers into this dip! You can also try out this vegan olive dip from Healthier Steps.
The uses of olive oil are only limited by your imagination and creativity. If you need more inspiration about what you can do with olive oil, there are plenty of websites that offer great vegan recipes and ideas.
Olive Oil is vegan
Because it is completely plant-based, olive oil is safe for vegans to use. However, we have seen that some environmental issues may cause a vegan to think twice before supporting the industry.
PETA has a list of condiments and oils that it has approved (which means no animals have been used or mistreated in the production of these items). Among this list is Newmann’s Own Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- 95% Organic
- Olive Oil, Organic, Extra Virgin
- First cold pressed
Always do due diligence to ensure that what you are buying supports environmental sustainability and protects animal welfare.