Those adhering to a vegan lifestyle may often question, “Is shortening vegan?“
What is Shortening?
Shortening is a type of fat used in baking and cooking. It gets its name from the effect it has on gluten, ‘shortening’ the strands and making baked goods crumbly. Traditional shortening, like the well-known brand Crisco, is made from vegetable oils like soybean and palm oil, which are hydrogenated to make them solid at room temperature.
How is Shortening Made?
Shortening is produced through a process called hydrogenation, in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. This process transforms the oil from a liquid state to a semi-solid state, making it ideal for giving baked goods a tender texture.
Is Shortening Vegan?
Yes, most shortenings, like those made from soybean or palm oil, are vegan, as they’re derived from plants. However, not all shortenings are created equal. Some are made from animal fats, like lard, which is not vegan. As always, it’s important to read the product labels to ensure that the shortening you’re buying is entirely plant-based and doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Shortening in a Vegan Diet
In a vegan diet, vegetable shortening is often used as a replacement for butter in baked goods. It can help produce a flaky texture in pastries, or a soft, moist crumb in cakes. However, some people may choose to avoid palm oil due to environmental concerns, as palm oil production is often linked to deforestation and habitat destruction.
In conclusion, while vegetable-based shortening is vegan, it’s always important to check the ingredient list. Remember, being vegan isn’t just about avoiding animal products, but can also involve making environmentally conscious choices.