Firstly I’d like to apologise for my absence of well over a month. University has been hectic and I’m definitely not one of those superhero vegans on instagram who can balance studying, socialising, making amazing meals everyday and going to gym at the crack of dawn whilst keeping up with their social media and blogs. I can barely make it to my lectures, but something in the news recently motivated me into wanting to write this blog post.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably seen or heard of Iceland’s new advert that had been banned from television for being ‘too political’. If you haven’t, it’s basically an animated story about an orangutang that’s very emotion-evoking. It tells us how palm oil contributes to deforestation which further contributes to the loss of these beautiful animals’ lives. This advert provoked a lot of people to say they will be ditching palm oil and it has been shared hundreds and thousands of times by vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
At first, I was happy to see this advert and contributed to the online sharing, but after a few days of seeing it die down very quickly, I realised I fell into the trap of this marketing ploy that may actually do more harm than good in the long run.
What this advert fails to address is that palm oil is one of the lesser evils that contribute to deforestation. It is nothing compared to the effects of animal agriculture or soybean production. Palm oil is actually only responsible for about 2.3% of the world’s deforestation whereas animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of deforestation of the amazon and is the biggest contributor to rainforest destruction. Soybean production is the second biggest, and did you know that 81% of soy grown is fed to livestock whereas only 6% is for human consumption?
If Iceland really do care about deforestation, they wouldn’t replace the palm oil in their own products with things that contribute even more towards global deforestation like oil derived from soy and animal fat – but they have. Removing palm oil completely may just lead to an increase in soybean production and animal agriculture.
If they cared about any animals at all, they wouldn’t promote putting literally every other animal on your plate.We know a vegan lifestyle is the best way to help the planet, or even if everyone just cut down on their meat and dairy consumption, that would help a lot. So why are a lot of Iceland’s stores removing their vegan sections and products to make room for Christmas products if they really cared this much?
Here’s why you should care:
If you care at all about the planet (which you should, because you live on it) then that alone should make you care about deforestation. If you care about animals at all, 70% of the world’s plants and animals live in forests, and deforestation leads to animal extinction every single day. If you care about people, deforestation leads to a decline in indigenous communities. If you want to help, the best thing to do for any of this is to cut down or completely eliminate animal products from your diet. Palm oil does contribute to deforestation, but it is not the biggest or the worst source; it is actually an extremely efficient plant. Cutting down surely will help deforestation, but avoiding it completely may just make it worse.
Let’s address the title of this blog: Do Iceland actually care?
It’s obvious this was a great marketing ploy, it even fooled me for a second, but I do not believe Iceland care as much about the rainforests as they’re making out. Until they show us an advert on the devastating effects animal agriculture has on deforestation, it is just another big name brand playing with the emotions of people and wanting to seem like they care about the planet. Yes, they post ‘meat free Monday’ recipes and sell a few vegan products, but whilst they are still selling brands that use unsustainable palm oil, refusing to tell the truth about deforestation, and not pushing their customers towards more vegan food to help the planet, I’m not buying it.
What YOU can do
Cut down on palm oil, yes, but make sure you are not just buying products that have replaced palm oil with soy or animal fat, like a lot of Iceland’s products. Look for ‘sustainable’ palm oil on packages, it does exist (research RSPO). Cut down on meat and dairy – if you really care about the environment, don’t continue munching on the biggest contributor to deforestation, global warming and climate change.