Butter is a very popular food in England, made by milking (usually cows) but in ancient times, all kinds of animals were used to churn the fat. Today, the world and his wife has gone plant-based so here we look at some vegan alternatives, but without palm oil (its use is harming the habitats of orangutans and other endangered creatures, there is no such thing as sustainable palm oil – this is just a self-policed term adopted by industry, which Greenpeace says is ‘as useful as a chocolate teapot’. And it’s not local either, being air-freighted thousands of miles to get here, so companies don’t have to pay the extra to use local rapeseed oil instead, which would support struggling farmers.
If you do use real dairy butter, then look for local organic brands that at least support free-range farming, and better animal welfare. Another issue when looking for vegan butter is to try to find brands that are not packed in plastic (difficult, but Naturli in most supermarkets has a block version in paper, so things are improving). The last two options are to make your own vegan butter or to use alternatives.
Keep vegan butters away from pets (due to toxic nuts, garlic, herbs). Never give birds buttered sandwich leftovers’ (fat on feathers affects waterproofing/insulation – stale bread can also choke).
The Best Brands of Vegan Butter
Marcel van Wing (what a fabulous name) is one of our new favourite persons. After a high-flying career promoting Unilever (bad!) he gave it all up to found The Flower Farm (good!) which is priced the same as regular margarine, to help stop deforestation of the rainforests.
Probably an orangutan’s favourite person right now, the often-quoted Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (always churned out by ‘vegan companies’ who won’t pay more to use local rapeseed oil) sent lawyers his way to try to stop him saying that ‘rainforests could be saved with his margarine’. There’s no stopping him – the margarine is now on sale everywhere. And the more people switch, the more profits he gets to offer palm-oil-free alternatives to everything else! Other good brands you can find in health shops and groceries are:
- Naturli (includes a block butter for baking) is sold in most stores nationwide, and also sold wholesale for chefs.
- Mouse’s Favourite Vegan Gold Butter is sold in compostable packaging, and can be used to make ‘butter curls’ for crumpets or mashed potatoes. Also good for pie crusts.
- Mergulo Nut Butters are made with buttery cashews, created by a chef in original, dark salt or garlic flavours.
- No Udder Butter is an artisan oat milk butter for baking or taste, tastes the same. In unsalted or garlic herb.
- I Am Nut OK Truffle-Infused Cultured Nut Butter was created by an American/Italian couple, also in rosemary sea salt version.
- Be Better Plant-Based Butter Alternative is the new darling of professional pastry chefs. Made with organic plant oils, it’s good on bread or to make brioche, croissants and puff pastry.
- Plant-Based Artisan Honea Butter is made with cashew nuts and cocoa butter, ideal with sourdough bread and crumpets.
Make Your Own Vegan Butter
Let’s face it, most of us are not going to make our own vegan butter. But if you do, then there are some good recipes around, although you’ll likely need to find some unusual ingredients like lecithin granules. Try this recipe for Vegan Butter (So Vegan) made with soy milk and coconut oil, using carrot juice for colour. Roxy and Ben’s Garlic & Herb Compound Butter (above) is made with fresh dill or other fresh herbs (add more less garlic or lemon juice, up to you!)
Find Alternatives to Vegan Butter
Some doctors say it’s best to do without ‘bad fats’ if healing from heart disease or cancer. Pop over to The Vegan 8 to find recipes by Brandi, who cooks and bake without oil or butter. She eats nuts & olives in whole form to get fats, and uses nut butters and almond flour in recipes. She wrote a cookbook (all recipes including this no-bake espressos chocolate fudge cake) are free from fat and gluten. Unlike most oil-free cookbooks, her recipes are super-tasty, she’s a cooking genius!