When it comes to dietary choices, many individuals follow specific lifestyles such as veganism. Vegans strive to exclude any animal-derived products from their diets and daily lives.
Olive oil, is a cooking fat known for its health benefits and culinary versatility, is a popular ingredient in many cuisines. However, a question often arises: Is olive oil vegan?
In this article, we will explore what makes the product vegan including the manufacturing process, nutritional value, health benefits, environmental impact, and ethical considerations.
Is Olive Oil Vegan?
In short, yes olive oil is both vegan and vegetarian making it a wonderful product if you're looking to avoid animal fats such as butter or lard!
It's a natural fat extracted from fruit and has been used for centuries in Mediterranean cuisine. It's highly desired because of its incredible flavor, health benefits, and versatility in cooking.
How It's Made
Today olive oil is produced without any involvement of animals or animal by products, therefore, it aligns with the principles of veganism.
Technically olives are a fruit. They grow on trees, similar to cherries, and are made up of flesh, pulp, and a hard pit. Each spring the fruit begins to form and then takes shape over the summer, ripening into the fall and winter.
The manufacturing process involves several steps, starting with the harvest of the fruit which takes place in the fall. Once harvested, the fruit is washed and crushed to obtain a paste.
This paste is then processed to separate the oil from the solid components. The product goes through various stages of filtration and clarification to ensure its purity and quality.
History of Production
Before us humans created modern farming equipment such as tractors, tree shakers, and mechanical mills we relied heavily on livestock such as oxen, horses, and donkeys.
Oxen were often used to till soil and carry heavy loads of olives to and from the mill. Horses were also use to pull equipment and fruit. For centuries donkeys and oxen were also used to operate the mill.
Modern mills do not use any livestock to operate, most run on electricity.
There are a few different qualities of the product available to consumers. And each has its own characteristics and best use. Typically, it retains much of the natural flavors and aromas of the fruit.
The two most popular options include:
Extra virgin, the highest quality available to consumers, is produced from the first milling of the fruit and can only be extracted through mechanical means. In addition, it must meet other physicochemical properties.
Regular is more refined, using heat or chemicals to homogenize the product and make it taste more flat and uniform.
Regardless, all methods and products used are both vegan and vegetarian.
While olive oil itself is vegan-friendly, it is essential to consider the environmental impact of its production. Mass cultivation and super intensive farming practices of does require large amounts of water and land, which can put a strain on natural resources.
Super intensive farming practices in particular often use pesticides which can have adverse effects on biodiversity and ecosystems. Smaller brands, like EXAU, do not practice super intensive farming practices.
Italian Vegan Pasta Recipes
Here are a few vegan Italian pasta recipes featuring your favorite cooking fat!
Pasta Aglio e Olio, a super simple and delicious pasta made with lots of garlic, spicy peppers, parsley, and EVOO. This recipe only takes 15 minutes to make and is perfect for a quick weeknight meal but it can easily be jazzed up!!
Orecchiette con Broccoli, is a one pot recipe featuring broccoli and garlic. It takes about 25 minutes to make and makes for great leftovers.
Insalata di Pomodoro, a southern Italian specialty made with onions, spicy peppers, basil, fresh tomatoes, and of course lots of EVOO. It's requires no cooking and comes together in just a few minutes so is perfect for those warm summer days, potlucks, and more!
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