Ten billion (land) animals live and die under the most horrible conditions imaginable in the United States every year. So obviously, our efforts should focus on getting people to consume less…olive oil?
It seems like I run across an inordinate number of anti-olive oil comments these days from vegans on the internet. People don’t pick on safflower or corn oil, probably because no one is out there touting their consumption. But because some health experts have the audacity to suggest that olive oil (a refined food! a fat!) can have a place in healthy diets, it earns the bulk of the criticism from those who view all oils with suspicion.
I don’t much care if someone consumes olive oil or not. I do wonder why anyone would think that taking an anti-olive oil stance could be effective advocacy for animals. As I’ve written before, adding restrictions to vegan diets that don’t improve their healthfulness ends up dissuading more people from going vegan than it is likely to attract.
Some of the most healthful and stupendously delicious plant-based traditions in the world have used olive oil for some 6 thousand years. And it’s no more a refined or processed food than orange juice, by the way.
The idea that someone who is eating a diet based on whole plant foods will somehow jeopardize their health with the addition of a few teaspoons of olive oil doesn’t make much sense, when you think about it. And it is certainly not supported by any scientific research. Instead, as I wrote about on my examiner column today, olive oil is packed with a unique blend of phytochemicals, and the research suggests that adding some to your diet can lower risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke, and can even help with weight loss.
Imagine getting all of those benefits and at the same time, giving a nice positive tweak to the culinary image of vegan diets. Let’s make vegan diets as healthy and easy and attractive as possible. Olive oil is a positive in that regard, not a negative.