If you love baking, there’d be plenty of butter or margarine in your kitchen. But if you’ve now switched to veganism, you’d probably have to think about substituting these items with some non-dairy alternative. Shortening is a good option because it’s essentially fat that stays solid at room temperature, much like butter, and is perfect for baking crumbly pastries and stuff.
It prevents them from sticking to the baking dish and also helps them stay soft after getting baked. You can prepare Bisquick Pancakes with this shortening. But the question most vegans wonder about: “is vegetable shortening vegan” and whether shortening brands like Crisco are indeed safe to use for vegans.
Crisco, a cherished household name, has graced our kitchens for decades, becoming an integral part of our culinary traditions. Introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1911, this beloved brand emerged as a healthier alternative to traditional animal fats like lard and butter.
Crafted from a blend of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, typically sourced from soybean and palm, Crisco transforms liquid oils into a semi-solid state through meticulous processing. It’s like witnessing a culinary alchemy, as these oils convert into a texture that adds magic to our dishes.
Let’s quit wondering and get to the facts. Here’s all you wanted to know on is Crisco vegan?
What Is Crisco Made Of?
Crisco’s All-Vegetable Shortening is one of the famous brands out there as replacement for relatively unhealthy butter. But does it qualify to be safe for use by vegans in general? Its name does suggest that it’s “all-vegetable” but one can never be sure when on the vegan path. Let’s look at its ingredients and find out:
- Soybean Oil
- Fully Hydrogenated Palm Oil
- Palm Oil (Which is considered non vegan by some vegans, check it in this ‘Are Starburst vegan‘ article)
- Mono and Diglycerides
- Citric Acid (Antioxidants)
Looking at its ingredients, it’s clear that Crisco doesn’t contain lard or any other animal fat. Interestingly, the word shortening in the past did include lard and other animal fats. However, it has now changed to being exclusively referred to only vegetable shortening. And Crisco leads this industry today.
Also, is Crisco dairy free? There are no visible hints of any butter, cream or other dairy product in Crisco. The fat content in the product is derived solely from vegetable oils. The Mono and Diglycerides present in Crisco may raise a vegan brow or two because their source is unclear.
They may be either plant- or animal-based. However, assuming that a majority of Mono and Diglycerides are derivatives of soybean oil or palm oil, we can safely label Crisco as a vegan brand. There’s another common concern on is Crisco gluten free? Yes.
Also, we know that Crisco is definitely not healthy. Using a little bit now and then shouldn’t be too much of a problem but regular use should surely be avoided. So, you can include a small portion of this shortening in your vegan coffee cake.
Is Crisco Healthy?
Crisco’s preparation involves high processing for which reason, it isn’t considered too healthy by certain people, including some vegans as well. Besides, the shortening initially used partially hydrogenated oils which included trans-fat. Its recipe has now been changed to include a mix of several vegetable oils, one of which is fully hydrogenated palm oil, with a view to remove all trans-fat from the product.
Trans-fat is associated with a number of health risks including heart disease. In fact, in the recent past, trans-fats were commonly found to be present in a lot of processed foods as well, one of which included Crisco shortening. The product contained trans-fat in the form of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. In 2018, such oils were prohibited from being added to any food item. For this reason, Crisco complied and removed partially hydrogenated oils from its ingredients.
But the health debate over Crisco didn’t end there. Despite removal of trans-fat from the product, there remain other major health concerns–
- It contains 100% fat content which means high calories and weight gain chances on regular consumption. For a healthy weight gain, you can try out some vegan weight gainers.
- It has very low nutrition value as far as the presence of vitamins and other micro nutrients are concerned.
Is Coconut Oil a Healthy Crisco Alternative?
Huge concerns over Crisco being an unhealthy substitute to butter is putting off vegans too (because they avoid anything not healthy). In the light of this, a general opinion in favor of coconut oil as a relatively healthy replacement is gaining form. The advantage: coconut oil is a form of saturated fat and therefore remains solid at room temperature just like Crisco.
It can’t be denied though that coconut oil is also processed but it still involves relatively lesser processing than Crisco and is not hydrogenated too. Plus, a special fat called Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) present in coconut oil favors weight loss and is great for the skin and hair too.
While crisco may be vegan but it isn’t healthy for sure. Time to switch, perhaps? If you wish to have this shortening than you can prepare vegan chocolate cake at home, it tastes yummy-lious.