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Winter

Food & Drink, Winter

Where to Buy Palm Oil Free Mince Pies This Christmas

palm oil free christmas food

palm oil free christmas food

Want to know where to buy palm oil free mince pies?  Read on!

Crumbly pastry that melts in the mouth.  Juicy berries with a hint of spice. The tang of brandy.  Served hot and drizzled with cream.  Nothing quite says Christmas like a mince pie.  This seemingly simple festive snack is available in every supermarket.  However, it has a complex journey involving many people, businesses, and resources.  But it’s one ingredient – palm oil – which links this humble pie to deforestation, human rights abuses, and climate change.

As such, Georgina Rawes from Ethical Consumer looks into the issues behind palm oil production and shares her top five palm oil free mince pies.

The problem with palm oil

Palm oil is found in around half of all packaged foods and in many other household items, from cleaners to cosmetics.  This is because it is cheap, widely available, and solid at room temperature.  All of this makes it an appealing fat for manufacturers to use.

In mince pies, palm oil is found in the vegetable suet used to make the mincemeat.  It gives the juicy filling the firm and creamy texture that we all love.  However, there is a bitter and unpleasant story behind this popular ingredient.

Over 90% of the world’s palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, across 16 million acres of land.  As plantations grow to meet demand, they claim rainforest, razing them to gain valuable farmland.  In fact, palm oil plantations are one of the leading causes of deforestation, forcing indigenous people from their homes and threatening endangered species living in these diverse ecosystems.

As rainforests are cleared, carbon dioxide is released.  In fact, deforestation accounts for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and is a major contributor to global warming.

This is particularly pronounced in Indonesia.  The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) worryingly indicates that 98% of Indonesia’s rainforests may be gone in the next four years.

As well as the clear issues involved in deforestation, palm oil production is riddled with supply chain management issues.  There are an estimated 3.5 million workers employed on Indonesian and Malaysian plantations.  Plantations where child labour and modern-day slavery still occur.

What about sustainable palm oil?

Many products now state that they contain sustainable palm oil.  Whilst this seems to be a good thing, the reality is more complicated.

Certification groups, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have been criticised for not going far enough to ensure that members are acting responsibly. There are also RSPO members who have been exposed as having environmental abuses and human rights issues in their palm oil supply chains. 

So, where products seem to contain sustainable palm oil that is not linked to deforestation, this might not actually be the case.  As such, action groups such as Sum of Us, are campaigning for RSPO to vote to adopt a no deforestation, no peatland, no exploitation certification system.

palm oil free mince pies

Picking the perfect palm oil free mince pie

Whilst campaigners continue to put pressure on the palm oil industry to clean up its act, we recommend avoiding this problem ingredient for now.  Happily, when it comes to mince pies, we have found a great palm oil-free selection.  Check out of our top five palm oil free mince pies:

Waitrose Duchy Organic Mince Pies

Organic and made with sunflower oil instead of palm oil.  What’s more, these pies come in 100% recyclable packaging and are priced at £2.50 for four. Available from Waitrose online and in-store.

Marks & Spencer Mini Mince Pie Selection

Perfect for parties, these mini versions of a classic come in three varieties.  They contain rapeseed oil and are suitable for vegetarians, and cost £16.00 for 36.  Available from Marks & Spencer online and in-store.

Authentic Bread Company Luxury Mince Pies with All Butter Pastry

These handmade mince pies are equally at home on the dinner table as they are beside a cup of tea.  Beautifully finished, they are made with sunflower oil and are available through organic retailer Abel & Cole at £5.39 for a pack of six.

The Organic Collection Organic Mince Pies

These pies contain no additional fats in the mincemeat, only fruity fillings.  They are available through ethical online retailers Real Foods, priced at £5.95 for six pies.

Artisan Bread Organic Mince Pies

Organic, vegan, and gluten-free, these mince pies tick all the boxes.  They contain no added sugar and are made with cold-pressed olive oil in place of palm oil.  Available online at Artisan Bread Organic at £5.25 for a pack of six.

For more information on palm oil, check out our full special report.  

Autumn, Food & Drink, Winter

Organic Sweet Potato Chili and Coconut Soup Recipe | AD

vegan soup recipe
vegan soup recipe

This sweet potato chili and coconut soup recipe is paid-for content.

Today I’m sharing my favourite sweet potato chili and coconut soup recipe.  Not only is it organic, but it’s vegan and vegetarian friendly too.

As a vegetarian, I always find Christmas a difficult time food-wise.  When I think of traditional Christmas foods I inevitably think of things like turkey, goose, pigs in blankets, potatoes roast in goose fat.  And if you are vegan then it’s not any easier. Traditional vegetaria festive treats include brandy butter, cheese boards, and other such dairy treats.

When I try to think of traditional vegetarian and vegan Christmas foods my mind goes blank apart from Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and nut roast. Which I appreciate are not up everyone’s street.

What I always say is that if you are having a vegetarian or vegan Christmas too, then the number one rule for happiness is to rip up the rule book!

You don’t have to have nut roast because someone in the seventies decided that’s what vegetarians and vegans should eat (I’ve never had a nice one).  Just because Brussels sprouts are the done thing at Christmas doesn’t mean your whole meal has to revolve around them.

Feed Your Happy This Christmas

Cook what makes you and your family happy.  It doesn’t matter if it’s particularly Christmassy. This is because whatever you make, you can make it a family tradition that your family associates with Christmas year on year.

Which brings me to the question – what food makes my family happy?  And that, my friend, is a very good question.  My partner and I have been vegetarian for 11 years. Since then our Christmas main meal has mostly revolved around Quorn Roast. We first started eating out of convenience and which then grew into tradition.  The trouble is it isn’t dairy-free, which poses a problem as my youngest daughter was just this year diagnosed with a dairy intolerance. This means our beloved Quorn Roast is out this year.

sweet potato chili and coconut soup recipe

I’m still not 100% certain what we will cook for the main course. However, I have at least settled on the starter.  As it’s our first Christmas going down a vegan route I am steering completely away from tradition. Instead, I will be serving up this organic sweet potato, chili, and coconut soup. 

It’s tasty, comforting, vegetarian, vegan, and slightly spicy (everyone in my family, especially my kids, loves spice). What’s more, it is quick and easy to make.  Basically, it makes each and every one of us happy – and that’s what Christmas is all about!

Organic food makes us especially happy. This is because the journey from field to fork is less damaging to the environment and to the growers and pickers.  It’s also a healthier choice all round. This is why I’ve partnered with the Feed Your Happy campaign, a campaign run by the Organic Trade Board, in order to raise awareness of the joy of organic food, to share this delicious organic recipe.

Sweet Potato Chili and Coconut Soup Recipe

organic food

Vegan Organic Sweet Potato, Chili & Coconut Soup Recipe

Make this delicious vegan and vegetarian friendly organic sweet potato, chili, and coconut soup with easy recipe.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 600 g organic sweet potatoes peeled & sliced into thin coins
  • 1/4 organic red chili de-seeded & finely diced
  • 1 finely chopped organic red onion
  • 1 3 cm x 3cm nub of organic ginger finely diced
  • 2 cloves organic garlic crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 400 ml can of organic coconut milk
  • 600 ml of organic vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to season

Instructions

  1. Add the oil to a medium sized soup pot and heat gently.
  2. Once heated add the onion, and cook over a medium heat until translucent.
  3. Once the onions are translucent, add the chili, ginger and garlic to the pot, and heat for two minutes.
  4. Then add the sweet potato, the vegetable stock and paprika.
  5. Bring to the boil and then let the soup gently simmer for 15 minutes or so until the sweet potato has completely softened.
  6. Now add the coconut milk.  Don’t worry if some of it has solidified in the can – this will soon melt in the soup.
  7. Heat for a further 2 minutes, then remove from the pot from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Using a hand blender, blitz the soup until smooth, and then season to your taste.
  9. For an added festive touch, toast some of your favourite organic bread and use a star cookie cutter to cut out some star shaped croutons!

Enjoy!

And if you are looking for one central place to find organic Christmas ingredients or gifts for the family, then why not pop over to the Soil Association’s Christmas Marketplace?

ps: I have more vegetarian and vegan Christmas dinner ideas right this way!

feed your happy