Yes, it is. Canola oil is the oil extracted from the rapeseed plant. Ultimately, it is a light oil with minimal flavor that is suitable for cooking and baking and contains no animal ingredients.
A reader recently submitted this question, and mentioned they had heard that canola oil contains animal ingredients. We can’t find evidence of this, however have learned a few things about production of the oil itself, and have found that canola oil is somewhat controversial on the “healthy vs. not healthy” front.
We’d like to point out that yes, canola oil is a processed food, created with the aid of chemical components and leaves byproducts sold to other industries. This video from How It’s Made details the multi-step process of going from seed to oil.
According to the video, one of the byproducts is a protein-rich meal that is sold as animal feed. This may bother some, but we don’t think it is enough to determine a product “unsuitable for vegans”.
More concerning to us is that the production process also includes a Sodium Hydroxide treatment and a “wash” with bleach. The use of these chemicals may be unsavory for some people as well, but certainly come with the territory of mass produced food.
Lastly, the rapeseed plant has long been part of controversy surrounding the Monsanto Company – in the early 90s, a genetically modified “Roundup Ready” rapeseed plant was introduced. Legal battles have ensued regarding the “illegal” use of the patented Monsanto seeds. Again, we don’t believe this would make a product unsuitable for vegans, but it is certainly something to be aware of, especially if you are trying to avoid GM foods.
There are many oils available on the market. Most are suitable for different purposes in the kitchen and the health benefits of some seem to out-weigh others. If you are interested, here is an excellent round-up of oils and their benefits.