Aug 7, 2012

bryanna's palm-oil free vegan buttah

Palm oil production has skyrocketed in the recent times. Unfortunately, most of that production is taking place in third world countries where there is a dismal lack of oversight for the welfare of the natives, workers, animals and environment. Most of the palm oil plantations are centered in Peninsular Malaysia, where orangutans reside. They and three other native mammals are expected to be extinct by the end of the century, due to habitat loss and the outright killing of these animals, as production invades their habitat and palm oil plantations are encroaching into their environment.

As vegans, vegetarians and just plain caring folks, we are indirectly contributing to this problem. If you grab your Earth Balance spread, the best vegan butter substitute until now, you will note that palm oil is an ingredient. As of yet Earth Balance has not responded to the information of habitat loss of orangutans since they are still using palm oil after National Geographic reported on this in November of 2008. What is a vegan to do with a ready to spread toast or a warm fluffy pancake? 

Bryanna Grogan Clark, food scientist extraordinaire, has once again come to the rescue by creating the Buttah. I cannot give you the recipe, but she has it for free here via

Once you mosey over there and read the recipe, or if even just the thought of making your own butter is giving you heart palpitations, hold on. While I cannot give you the recipe, I can make you a How To Breakdown for making the Buttah. 

The process is more intimidating than difficult; in fact, the whole thing, including prepping, took about thirty minutes, minus the cooling of the prepared Buttah. 

Procure the weird and wacky ingredients: xantham gum (or guar gum), liquid lecithin, cocoa butter (fair trade and deodorized - not as bad as it sounds!), a digital scale, and get blending! 

And don't forget to enter the cookbook giveaway  for Tami Noyes' and Celine Steen's Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day. Drawing will be at the end of the week.

UPDATE: Earth Balance's response to the palm oil crisis:

Click Here


  1. I just love your How To breakdown. Great job!
    Now that the whole thing is so much less scary, I will indeed give it a go.

  2. Thanks, in2insight! It really was easy once you have all the ingredients. Please shout out if you have any questions about it, especially the emulsification part, which, for me, is always the most confusing part: when is it actually done??

  3. Not exactly true, as Earth Balance has responded and provided information to the public about where their palm oil is source, which is not from the same areas surrounding orangutans:

    I fully get the need to use less palm oil, but I am saddened by the rush of some vegan out their to accept and disseminate false information about a company that's had been their for them when no other products were available. It's one thing to feel passionate about a topic, it's another all together to lie outright in order to make one's "butter alternative" go viral on the web, as some have done. Truly unfortunate, because rather than draw real light on the issue and expose those who truly are contributing to the problem, Earth Balance is being demonized when they are one of the few companies out their leading the industry away from exploitation towards only the sustainable use of palm oil. Talk about vegans biting the hand that feeds them!

  4. Anonymous,

    I appreciate your comment and letting us know about Earth Balance's response to the palm oil crisis. I sense that you are not a Bryanna fan, and while that is your choice, I do not exactly see your point that she is trying to make her recipe go viral, for which she gets no monetary compensation, or that she is out-right lying. Maybe she receives some recognition, but I cannot agree with you that she has this far-reaching agenda.

    I have been a huge fan of Earth Balance for the past decade and I was as saddened as you are that they were implicated in the destruction of so many lives. I am now heartened to learn that they are not ignoring the trouble palm oil farming causes and are actually being proactive about their responsibilities. Way to go and great to know!

    Now that Earth Balance is addressing the problem, maybe we should get together and call Spectrum on the carpet for the palm oil in their shortening!

    As an aside, just because a company is a great source for vegans, that does not mean that they cannot make mistakes and should not be accountable for them. No one and nothing is perfect. It is the rights and the responsibilities of consumers to make sure that the companies they support are adhering to our standards, be they fair trade, animal welfare, environmental, or political. It is when we give companies a free pass, saying that they have been good to us so far, that we let our expectations slip and, we all know how slippery that slope can be!

    Thanks for the comment, Anonymous!


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