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?

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.

Is Crisco Vegan?

crisco shortening

Crisco sells both All-vegetable shortening and Butter flavor shortening (still a vegetable shortening).

The ingredients are almost identical, except that the butter flavor has “natural and artificial flavor” added. Some natural flavors are vegan, but some flavors are derived from dairy and are not, it’s impossible to tell from the label.

Here are the ingredients in Crisco’s all-vegetable shortening:

Soybean Oil, Fully Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Palm Oil, Mono And Diglycerides, TBHQ And Citric Acid (Antioxidants).

TBHQ is a synthetic ingredient in case you haven’t seen it before.

As I outlined before on this page, there are 2 main potential issues:

  • Palm oil – controversial among vegans
  • Mono and diglycerides – These may or may not be vegan.

The only one who knows if the glycerides are vegan or not is Crisco, and they did not respond to my email asking about them.

Is Crisco shortening vegan?

Both Crisco’s All-vegetable shortening and Butter flavor shortening might be vegan, but there’s no way of knowing. It’s up to you if you’d like to take the risk.

There are brands like Nutiva that are much more likely to be vegan friendly, so I’d recommend using them whenever possible.

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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