A Guide to Vegan Butter

Butter and margarine. They are commonly used in cooking and baking, and slathered on perfectly toasted bread. Butter is typically made using cow’s milk, while margarine is made with vegetable oils, making it accidentally vegan. Be sure to check the label, not all margarine is vegan- some contain animal derived ingredients.

Vegan butter is also made with vegetable oil. It melts and tastes just like dairy butter, only better.

No animals necessary.

Shopping Guide

Vegan Butter Brands

You will be able to find vegan butter or margarine in any grocery store; even Walmart stocks it. While it’s easy to find margarine that is accidentally vegan, the same can’t be said for vegan butter. At this time, there aren’t a whole lot of companies who specialize in making vegan butters, but those who do make it make it well.

vegan butter

The Issue of Palm Oil

What is Palm Oil?

Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the palm fruit, grown on the African oil palm tree. Oil palms are originally from Western Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Today, oil palms are grown throughout Africa, Asia, North America, and South America, with 85% of all palm oil globally produced and exported from Indonesia and Malaysia.

As is the case with animal agriculture in general, the palm oil industry is linked to major issues such as deforestation, habitat destruction, climate change, horrible animal cruelty, and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced.

“In total, 50 million tons of palm oil is produced annually, supplying over 30% of the world’s vegetable oil production. This single vegetable oil is found in approximately 40-50% of household products in countries such as United States, Canada, Australia and England.” (1)

There are many different names for palm oil and it’s used in a variety of products.

Products such as baked goods, shampoo, cosmetics, household cleaners, laundry detergent, and even toothpaste. It’s cheaper than other vegetable oils and is even being used as a biofuel, which has helped boost the popularity of palm oil. And the spike in demand is one huge part of the problem. Demand has caused a free-for-all style approach to clearing forests to plant oil palms, forcing orangutans and other animals out of their native habitat. And if they don’t leave, they are simply killed.

“According to the World Wildlife Fund, an area the equivalent size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction, and findings show that if nothing changes species like the orangutan could become extinct in the wild within the next 5-10 years, and Sumatran tigers less than 3 years.” (2)

  • Vegetable Oil  #
  • Vegetable Fat  #
  • Palm Kernel  #
  • Palm Oil Kernel  #
  • Palm Fruit Oil  #
  • Palmate  #
  • Palmitate  #
  • Cetyl Palmitate  #
  • Octyl Palmitate  #
  • Palmolein  #
  • Palmitic Acid  #
  • Palm Stearine  #
  • Palmitoyl Oxostearamide  #
  • Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3  #
  • Palmityl Alcohol  #
  • Glyceryl Stearate  #
  • Elaeis Guineensis  #
  • Hydrated Palm Glycerides  #
  • Stearic Acid  #
  • Steareth -2  *
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate  ^
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate  ^
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate  ^
  • Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate  *
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulphate  ^
  • Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylaye  ^
  • Sodium Kernelate  #
  • Sodium Palm Kernelate  #
  • Cetyl Alcohol  ^

What does this have to do with vegan butter?

Earth Balance, Nutiva, and Pure Dairy Free vegan butters all contain palm oil. Earth Balance addresses this issue in this article, stating that they only use responsibly sourced and sustainably produced palm oil. Nutiva makes the same claim, but the link on their site is broken, making me wonder what actions they are taking to solve the palm oil issue. Pure Dairy Free has not addressed this issue at the time of this writing.

There are many conflicting articles on the internet on whether or not palm oil, technically a vegan product, can really even be called vegan given the overlapping ethical, environmental, and humanitarian issues surrounding its production.

Deciding to consume palm oil is definitely a topic that vegans should be talking about. Any time an animal loses their life or home to a human, it becomes a vegan issue. Visit the website, Say No to Palm Oil, for a more in-depth discussion about palm oil.


Homemade Vegan Butter Recipes

Do you have a dairy-free butter that I should know about? Please contact me.




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Truth in Advertising

Your Daily Vegan is committed to providing accurate information to the vegan community. The information and data presented in this article has been meticulously researched, and is based on the information available to me at the time of publication. Each guide is periodically reviewed for accuracy and updated as necessary. You can find the update date listed at the end of every guide. Please contact me if you find out-of-date or incorrect information.

1. The Organic Adventurer. “Palm Oil and Orangutans, What’s the Story.” Retrieved May 16, 2015

2. Say No to Palm Oil. “What’s the Issue.” Retrieved May 16, 2015

This guide is authored by KD Angle-Traegner. Last update June 2016