It’s easy to find vegan butter in theory—but harder to find ones that are ethically, sustainably sourced. Palm oil is an ingredient many vegans try to avoid, and it features prominently in Earth Balance and other vegan butters.
In recent years, it’s more common to see “sustainable palm oil” options. But some vegans question even those products. This post will cover how you can avoid palm oil completely in your vegan butter. I’ll list 6 pre-made options, and also give some tips for making your own!
What’s Wrong With Palm Oil?
So what’s the big deal about palm oil? It’s a vegetable-based oil, so technically it’s vegan. But there are some other considerations.
The production of palm oil is associated with widespread habitat destruction, contributing to certain species continuing to be endangered. Orangutans, in particular, are negatively impacted by unsustainable palm oil harvesting.
Many vegans consider unsustainable palm oil to be non-vegan since it causes severe harm to local wildlife.
More and more companies today have vowed to use only sustainably harvested palm oil in their products. But it’s hard to know for sure about the details of this “sustainable palm oil.” Some vegans aren’t convinced it’s anything more than a marketing stunt.
Personally, I’m okay with eating “sustainable palm oil,” but some vegans prefer to avoid palm oil all together.
Should You Avoid Palm Oil?
This question is something only you can answer. Educate yourself on palm oil sources and the environmental impact it has on the planet to help you decide.
If you don’t feel that palm oil is a must avoid ingredient, that is also an informed decision. Many vegan butter companies (including Earth Balance) have addressed vegan concerns about palm oil, and their commitments may be enough to assure you.
Vegan Butters Without Palm Oil
Here’s a good list of vegan butter options without palm oil to get you started if you’ve chosen to eliminate it from your vegan diet.
Miyoko’s Creamery is a top-notch vegan company that many people know from their vegan cheese.
Their butter is made with a fermented cashew base and comes only in sticks. The texture is pleasantly spreadable, and the taste is somewhat mild.
If you’re hoping for something with a stronger umami taste, Miyoko’s may be too mild for you. However, it’s excellent for baking and browns in a pan, just like milk-based butter. If you can find it in stores, it’s worth the expense.
This woman-owned brand is also free of palm oils and uses coconut oil to provide a creamy texture.
Om Sweet Home does whip well for baking and is based on Dawn Pascale’s trials and errors finding baking options. It’s made by hand and has a pleasant texture and taste.
It’s tough to find outside of the NYC or New Jersey area, but if you like the idea of supporting a small business, this is an excellent find if you can get it. It’s also available from their website, but consider how shipping could affect the butter, especially during different seasons.
Wayfare looks like the traditional tub of butter and uses coconut and sunflower oil instead of palm. The base is butter beans, which provide a nice, umami texture and taste.
It has a very spreadable texture and comes in a convenient tub for storage or spreading.
It’s pretty easy to find and less expensive than some of the other hand-made options. The texture is highly spreadable without scraping (if you know, you know), making it a great choice if you miss things like butter toast.
Milkadamia is one of the few vegan butters that come in salted and unsalted versions, and both are palm oil-free.
The company is best known for its macadamia nut milk and creamer, but they’ve released a spreadable butter now as well.
The butter uses a macadamia oil rather than the solid nut, giving it less of a nutty flavor than other vegan options that do use a nut base. It needs a little warming up to spread effectively, but it doesn’t take much.
Forager Project’s buttery spread uses whole cashews and coconut oil instead of palm-oil.
It has a slightly sweeter flavor that’s great for highlighting bread or drizzling over popcorn. It spreads well but will need just a little bit of softening to reach its true potential.
It has a highly distinctive taste, which may not be for you if you’re looking for a salty, savory version of vegan butter. However, the spread is good on its own and has a pleasant, custard-like taste.
Previously only available to restauranteurs, you can now get Fora’s aquafaba-based butter directly from the company.
It features a balanced blend of fats, emulsifiers, liquids, and solids, and is designed to mimic real butter texture both for cooking and eating.
It’s free of nuts and soy, so those of you who’ve been frustrated by the nut ingredients in most vegan kinds of butter can rejoice.
It has a pleasant, mild taste and is excellent as a spreadable butter. It even browns like butter made from milk and is no less complex to do so.
How to Make Your Own Vegan Butter (Without Palm Oil)
There are lots of resources available to help you make your own version of vegan butter. I don’t have permission to reprint any full recipes here, but a quick search should help you with everything you need, from ingredients to the process. Here’s a good one from One Green Planet.
One of the important decisions you’ll need to make is how solid you want your butter to be. Emulsifiers can help the butter keep its shape even at room temperature, but they aren’t necessary.
You can also experiment with fermented versions, nuts, and bean bases as a way to get the flavor profile you like.
Be sure to store your homemade vegan butter in the fridge or freezer to help it last. Don’t make more than you can eat in a few weeks—it’s not likely to stay good beyond that time frame, even in the freezer.
You’ll probably only need a blender and a container to solidify your butter and store it in. So, you won’t need expensive equipment.
Balancing Your Fats to Stay Healthy
One thing to consider if you’re eating vegan butter regularly is your balance of essential fats. Vegans often have a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, causing excess inflammation (source). And eating vegetable oils (which many vegan butters contain) can mess this ratio up further.
For most vegans, it’s going to make sense to take a vegan omega-3 supplement (source). You can get some omega-3 fats from flax, chia seeds, walnuts, and other plant foods—but the best source is a DHA/EPA supplement.
DHA and EPA are the bioavailable forms of omega-3 that your body actually uses. If you eat a lot of flax seeds, for example, those contain ALA, which your body still has to try to inefficiently convert to DHA and EPA.
So what should you do about this? There are vegan DHA/EPA supplements like this one I’ve taken and enjoyed. But my recommendation is the Future Kind multivitamin (link goes to my review post). It has the right kinds of omega-3, plus vitamin D and B12, the two other nutrients vegans need most.
Making the Commitment to Compassion
Deciding to take the road of compassion means rethinking many of the things we’ve been taught. Our understanding of compassion may help to inform our vegan choices.
I don’t personally choose to avoid palm oil at all costs, but that decision will depend on you. Luckily there are plenty of great vegan butters without palm oil, so it’s really not too hard to go palm-oil free if you choose.