Is Shortening Vegan? (Vegetable or Otherwise)

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Verdict: Shortening made from dairy is not vegan. Vegetable shortening may be vegan, but isn’t always.

Summary:

  • Vegetable shortening contains fats from plant sources, but sometimes mono- and diglycerides as well, which can come from plant or animal sources.
  • Vegetable shortening is often made from palm oil, which many strict vegans don’t consider vegan.

There are all sorts of shortening products because “shortening” is just a general marketing term.

It covers any type of fat that’s solid at room temperature and is typically used to make baked goods.

Some shortening is mainly made of lard, suet, and butter, all of which come from animals and are not vegan.

But the majority of shortening that you’ll find in stores today are vegetable shortenings, and it will typically state that clearly on the product.

Is Vegetable Shortening Vegan?

crisco shortening

The fact that “vegetable” is in the name makes you think that it’s probably vegan.

But it’s not that simple.

There are 2 potential problem ingredients for vegans:

  • Mono and diglycerides – These can be derived from either plant or animal fats. In most vegetable shortenings they come from plant sources, but unless it’s specified on the ingredients you can’t be sure.
  • Palm oil – While products with palm oil can be labeled as “vegan,” many vegans still don’t eat it. Here’s a more detailed guide to why palm oil might not be vegan, since the industry is responsible for a lot of animal suffering.

Palm oil is quite common in vegetable shortening. For example, it’s one of the main oils in Crisco shortening (the most popular one).

Depending on whether or not you’re okay with consuming palm oil will typically determine whether you feel shortening is or isn’t vegan.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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