Is Vegetable Oil Made From Vegetables?

It’s called vegetable oil, but does it actually contain vegetables? And if it does, which vegetables go into creating this flavorless oil?

It’s called vegetable oil, but does it actually contain vegetables? And if it does, which vegetables go into creating this flavorless oil?

 

The Short Answer

No, vegetable oil contains no actual vegetables.

The Long Answer

What’s in a name, anyway? Clearly, not much stock can be put into what we name our foods when you realize that vegetable oil contains no actual vegetables. It is an oil though, so the name is at least 50% accurate.

So why do we call it vegetable oil? That’s a dodgy question. The most common answer I’ve found is that the term vegetable oil, rather than being descriptive of the ingredients found within, is more of a differentiator, separating plant oils from lard-based shortenings. The term is inclusive of all oils that are derived from a plant as opposed to an animal.

A more accurate name for vegetable oil would be seed oil or plant oil. Up to 85% of what we know as vegetable oil in the United States is actually made from soybeans. The other 15% is mostly a blend of soy and other plant-based oils such as corn, peanut, olive, sunflower, canola, palm or cottonseed. Not a vegetable to be found in the bunch!

It’s called vegetable oil, but does it actually contain vegetables? And if it does, which vegetables go into creating this flavorless oil?#cookingoil #vegetableoil #vegetables
It’s called vegetable oil, but does it actually contain vegetables? And if it does, which vegetables go into creating this flavorless oil?#cookingoil #vegetableoil #vegetables

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.