Most of the cooking oils in general use are derived from plants, whether they are grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, or legumes. Some of these "vegetable" oils, like olive and canola oils, are popular in home and restaurant kitchens. Others, like sunflower, soybean, and palm oils, find use in many familiar foods, cosmetics, and hygiene products. This versatility means that as the world's population grows and becomes more affluent, the demand will continue to rise from 199.1 million metric tons in 2020 to 269.2 million metric tons in 2027.

Demand may be an abstract concept, but oil crops already account for over 300 million hectares of arable land, which accounts for more than 20% of all such land on the planet. As a result, concerns are growing over the sustainability of vegetable oils. However, each crop faces its own environmental (and sometimes social) issues. This article will highlight the significant obstacles that prevent the most prevalent cooking oils from becoming more sustainable.