I always figured vegetable oil was some sort of mix of GM canola, GM soybean, and whatever leftover GM scraps they can make into oil. The other day I looked at the ingredients and it was just soybean oil (no wonder it smells so gross). Since soybeans aren't actually vegetables, how is it legal to market it as vegetable oil? I hate the FDA.
Scientific (in this case, botanical) definitions are different from legal definitions. The legal definition of words like "vegetable" can change. Look what they did with the tomato and what they're trying to do with HFCS.
My computer's dictionary defines vegetable as "a plant or part of a plant used as food, typically as accompaniment to meat or fish, such as a cabbage, potato, carrot, or bean.
Wikipedia says "The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed."
So in other words, definitions aren't written in stone and aren't clear-cut like mathematical concepts.
Vegetable is not a rigorously defined term. So it does not mean a whole lot, and since people generally understand what "vegetable oil" refers to the name kind of makes sense to stick with. Kind of like how a "natural something_or_other" can mean anything.
" However, the word is not scientific, and its meaning is largely based on culinary and cultural tradition. Therefore, the application of the word is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. For example, some people consider mushrooms to be vegetables, while others consider them a separate food category. " Wikipedia.....
I think it's an old fashioned word used to differentiate from animal fat, which was used more commonly when products like "vegetable" oil was first being promoted. In other words, 1950s mentality. I don't know how much of that was also corn oil, which more technically would be vegetable oil, although it's still also a seed.
Vegetable vs Animal oils 3 Answers