the flower farm margarine

The Flower Farm

Today we are well aware of the issues surrounding palm oil (its use is destroying the habitats of orangutans and other endangered creatures). Greenpeace says there is no such thing as ‘sustainable palm oil’. This is just a self-policed term by industry that in their words is ‘as useful as a chocolate teapot’. Palm oil is only used because it’s cheap (it’s also imported thousands of miles and contains saturated fat, which is bad for your heart). The good news is that there are now quite a few vegan butters on sale that do not use palm oil, though you may have to shop around. But the more people buy them, the more stores will stock them.

Most councils now accept margarine pots for recycling. You’ll have to bin greasy paper (like pizza box greasy parts, they can’t be recycled).

Keep these butters away from pets due to nuts, garlic etc. Read more on food safety for people & petsNever feed buttered leftovers to garden birds or wildfowl as fat smears on feathers, affecting waterproofing and insulation (salt is toxic to pets and wildlife).

a shea-butter (butter!) from The Netherlands

the flower farm margarine

The Flower Farm is a Dutch brand sold in many European supermarkets including in England. This ambitious company has already sold over 26 million products, which would otherwise have needed 2.791.045 square metres of palm oil plantations to produce.

Marcel van Wing (what a fab name!) is an entrepreneur, who went from advertising to launching a brand to help rid our food industry of palm oil. He states that for a family of four, simply changing your margarine can remove over 17 kilos of palm oil demand each year.

This company makes its margarine (plus a light, block and liquid version) with shea butter, which grows wild on the African savannah where it produces plum-like fruits that fall off the trees naturally and are then harvested by hand. The company does not use coconut oil due to higher fats, and also issues with ‘slave monkeys’ sometimes being used to harvest the coconuts. In the Netherlands, it now has a version for children with extra calcium, not yet on sale in England.

85% of palm oil is not sustainable. RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) has been heavily criticised about whether their palm oil is genuinely deforestation-free. Moreover, RSPO is not mentioned on the packaging of a product in the supermarket. As a consumer, you don’t know if you’ve bought palm oil for which deforestation has (or quite possiblly has not) occured. This makes it impossible for anyone to make a responsible, sustainable choice. Marcel van Wing

Marcel (who spent 4 years living in Indonesia) has had fierce opposition from the palm oil industry. He writes that the lobbying industry is powerful. He says ‘A ton of palm oil costs about $500, a ton of shea butter about $4200, which we correct by accepting lower margins’ – it is a fight between David and Goliath. But who won again in that Bible story?

Marcel believes orangutans (our closest relatives) are like ‘greed-free versions of humans’. Despite the boyish charm of this ‘Dutch version of Dale Vince’ with his long hair and sneakers, don’t be fooled: he’s a savvy businessman determined to preserve the Indonesian rainforests.

a best-selling vegan butter from Denmark

Naturli vegan block butter

Naturli (also in block form for baking) is one of the best-selling to-find vegan butters in England, widely sold in supermarkets. Made with rapeseed, coconut, shea and almond, this really does taste just like butter. Coloured with carrot juice and organic, this is ideal on bread, in sauces, on pasta, in baking or even to fry with. This company does not use monkey slaves to harvest its coconuts. 

all Flora margarines are now suitable

All Flora spreads (even the butter’ ones) are now vegan and free from palm oil. There is no information on its coconut oil sourcing (most brands no longer use companies that use monkey slaves). But assuming this is okay, the maker Upfield to make all its brands vegan by 2025 (this includes ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’). It did once remove dairy and put it back again (due to a consumer petition) but appears to have changed its mind for good now, so here’s hoping.

Flora Plant B+tter is made from sunflower, rapeseed and coconut oil, it’s in paper packaging (you still have to bin it, as council’s won’t recycle greasy paper). In unsalted, salted and spreadable versions.

a cashew & rapeseed oil butter (with turmeric)

Mouse’s Favourite (in compostable packaging) is made with cashews and rapeseed oil, flavoured with salt and made yellow with turmeric (an Indian spice). Created by a woman who grew up in Jersey (so knows how to make things taste creamy like yoghurt and cheese), this is spreadable from the fridge, and freezes well too (defrost for an hour in the fridge before eating).

It’s ideal spread thick on fresh bread with cucumber slices, or dolloped onto hot baked potatoes, or used in mashed potato or on crumpets. Or nice with beans on toast. You can even create ‘butter curls’ like it’s 1973!

Mergulo is another  premium vegan butter adored by chefs, made with cashew nuts for a rich saltiness. Sold in plastic-free packaging.

infused rapeseed oil butter alternatives

Mr Hugh’s offers infused rapeseed oils in glass bottles (vanilla, lemon or hazelnut) which you can use like-for-like instead of butter (also in savoury versions of garlic, basil or chilli).

why don’t we have oat butters too?

Miyoko’s Creamery (US) makes oat-milk butter. This is a great idea, as oats are locally-grown and we could use transfarmation projects in England, for farmers to transition failing livestock farms over to a more profitable way of keeping family farms, allowing animal friends to live out their lives in peace. The farmers are given seeds and training and support, it’s a win-win-win situation all round.

how make your own vegan butter 

vegan cultured butter

Before cooking, read up on food safety for people & pets (many human foods are unsafe around animal friends).

Vegan Cultured Butter (Full of Plants) is a classic viral recipe by a French blogger. Made with 7 ingredients, learn how to make this (it tastes and smells the same) to use for spreading, melting and baking. Once you get the ingredients, it also works out cheaper than store-bought.

The Happy Pear replaces hard-to-find ingredients with miso (a Japanese condiment that’s easy to find in shops). It’ bound with lecithin for a creamy butter thattastes the same, and melts too.

So Vegan has a similar simpler recipe, which lasts up to 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also make garlic herb butter.

how to cook & bake without butter

the vegan 8

The Vegan 8 is a wonderful blog where all recipes are 8 ingredients or less (minus water, salt and pepper). This chef’s recipes and cookbook are amazing. She gets fats from natural foods (olives rather than olive oil). She has a post on how to cook and bake without oil. She prefers applesauce and vegan yoghurt for baking.

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