Yes, canola oil is almost always, if not always vegan.
It comes from a certain type of rapeseed plant, namely any plant in the Brassicaceae plant family. Here’s an example of one.
The seeds of the plants are heated and then crushed, and the oil from the seeds is extracted using a hexane solvent.
Nowhere in this process should it every come in contact with animal products, which is why canola oil is considered vegan.
You’ll find canola oil in all sorts of things, even beyond cooking, like:
Is Canola Oil Healthy for a Cooking Oil?
Canola oil may not be as healthy as olive oil, but it’s not terrible either.
Let’s start with the good:
- It has omega 3 fats – There’s about 1.3 grams of omega 3 fats per tablespoon (14 grams fat in total) of canola oil, which is decent. It’s actually one of the best vegan omega 3 sources.
- High smoke point – This makes it good for high heat cooking.
- Low in saturated fat – Generally, saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol (the bad kind).
- Canola oil contains phytosterols, which reduce the absorption of cholesterol. Although you may not benefit much from this with highly processed canola oil.
Seems okay so far.
But there are some “bad” or unhealthy aspects of canola oil as well:
- It’s highly processed – This removes any real nutrients from it, and you’re basically just left with the fats. It is possible to get unprocessed or “cold-pressed” canola oil, but it’s hard to find in most places.
- Hexane – Hexane is used as a solvent used in the extraction process. Most hexane is removed, but trace amounts remain. Studies have shown that hexane ingestion is unhealthy (Source). The amounts left in canola oil are quite small, so they’re probably not terrible, but it’s definitely not a good thing.
Overall, Canola oil is a fairly healthy vegan cooking oil, but you don’t want to be consuming large amounts of it regularly either.