Is Shortening Vegan?
Are you are a vegan? Why are you one? Many people will give you a different answer to this question – they can vary from health issues to religious, environmental, ethical, or all combined.
But, in the core of it all, there is an idea to promote a more humane and better world – and there is a special diet. Vegans refuse to eat anything that comes from an animal origin – so they avoid eggs, milk, and honey, although these are naturally derived animals, without using invasive methods to obtain them.
Most vegans consider the very specific production conditions of these products to be of animal origin and therefore exclude them from their diet. That is the basic difference with vegetarians.
As a vegan, you can eat rice, millet, wheat, quinoa, oats, etc., and legumes, which are a source of protein. Legumes include beans, lentils, peas, green beans, soybeans, beans.
In addition to being a significant source of vegan nutrition as a source of protein, legumes are a significant substitute for protein, soy, tofu and other soy products, as well as mushrooms.
But, what happens when you decide to eat something that you prepare for yourself and it is not the question of the ingredient itself, like rice, but it is the question of other, smaller and additional ingredients that you are using when you are cooking.
One of them is shortening, and today we will help all vegans that are reading this to find out whether you can use it if you are a vegan.
What is shortening?
First of all, you must know what does this term means, since it is not just one product, but many of them that come by the same name, that is used as a general one.
It is the general name that is behind the fat that is firm at the room temperature and is usually utilized in baking.
It can be made out of butter, lard or suet – for vegans, this is a right away issue because they are not vegan.
Shortening is used in baking abundantly because it does not have any taste and it is entirely made out of fat, there, it is solid, and it can melt also.
It maintains the consistency of the dough, for example, that you are making – like in pies, shortbread or puff pastry. It is the one ingredient that makes your dough break but in the good way it is crunchy and flaky at the same time.
One good news is that on the today market that is vegan-friendly, there are so many shortenings that are vegetable, they do not come from an animal source.
Does this mean that they are vegan because they are vegetable?
The usage of shortening
This baking ingredient is used because it can group the folds of dough, enabling them to further divide as they catch growing vapor throughout baking. The water that is found in the shortening activates the gluten, but it does not bond as much, as in some other cases.
As a result, you get the dough that has that crunch. But, what is even more important is that the fat, when the dough is cold, then it hardens, so the final product is a bit dry (but in a good way).
The dough that you are making you can set to become just the way you like it, by adding more or less shortening or water. It is the “fight” between the fat and the water.
In around one spoon of shortening, there are almost 115 calories, and around 13 grams of fat, and unsaturated fat less, around 9 grams.
It is important to look on the label, does shortening has Trans fats because sometimes it does, and it is extremely unhealthy for you.
Is Vegetable Shortening Vegan?
Things are not as easygoing as we would like it to be, and we can detect one main issue and a few additional.
The shortening can be extracted from dyglyceride and mono sources that come from plant or animal fat. It is expected that vegetable comes from plants, but it is not 100 per cent certain.
One more problematic issue that is connected with the shortening is the existence of palm oil that is used abundantly as an ingredient in vegetable shortening. The most popular brand of shortening on the world is made out of the palm oil. The problem here is the fact that so many vegans have a problem in consuming palm oil in general, so they will not use it in the shortening either.
We must add one more important aspect of the shortening – many say that it is not healthy, because it is a highly processed product. But, companies nowadays are finding new ways of making it healthier.
Another “problematic aspect” is this – many say that it does not have any nutritional value, and absolutely no vitamins or minerals. They also claim that people should use less of this fatty element or healthier versions.
What to use then?
First of all, we must tell you that whatever you eat you strive to be as quality so that you can have control over your vegan diet (or any other) and with the nutritional part of it.
The one advice that experienced vegans will give you is to experiment. Learn to cook and find your favorite vegan recipe. Being vegan does not mean that you should give up some delicious meals.
You can make pizza with vegetables without cheese, pancakes without eggs with jam, fasting cakes and pies.
Find an adequate egg replacement. Another thing that you should know whatever you are eating is that you must learn to read labels on store-bought products well. Find a time to do it, and then it will become something that is similar to a habit, and the veganism is not going to be a problem for you.
Numerous products may contain milk and egg tags. If you want to avoid such, by many tortures, then you make your own food.
In this sense, so many vegans make their own butter, because they do not want to use a store-bought, and they also make their own shortening, both because of the taste and the insurance that is vegan-friendly.
And one more thing is important here – not all countries around the world have the shortening, and also they do not have a vegan kind, unless in the USA. Even in the USA, you will find the one that is made out the palm oil, and as we have said it is not the kind that some vegans want to use, because of the environmental impact that the production of it makes.
So, they cut the story short, you can use coconut oil, and if you can find a refined one (if you want to feel the coconut flavor then you can use the unrefined kind). In this way, the shortening that you get by using the coconut oil will be vegan, and you can make all kinds of pies, and they will not just be vegan, they will have a delicious coconut flavor.
One more very important part here is this – coconut shortening truly has some health benefits, unlike some other kinds, so you should always opt on it.
The preparation of coconut shortening
First, you must know that this type of oil melts on 77 Fahrenheit (25C), you must be extra careful that it does not melt too fast, or it will ruin your sweet. In this sense, we recommend that you use the cocoa butter for shortening that is also highly recommended vegan kind.
For the production of vegan shortening, you need three parts of coconut oil that is refined kind and one part of other oil like light olive oil, or canola for example.
Preparation goes something like this – you should melt the oil, right until the point that is close to a room heat – the closest possible. This is one of the most important parts of making your own shortening because the temperature is the one aspect that will make shortening to do what it should do – make you dough flakey, the crust crispy, etc.
Then to that melted coconut oil, add the other kind and blend it well until it is corporate. When it is close to room temperature, put it in molds and put into the freezer to harden. Some people like to use the mound for ice cubes; they are a perfect size and can be easily stored for future use.
Leave it for an hour, and then you can store it in a sealed box, you can store it for three months in your refrigerator and up to two years in a freezer. In the refrigerator for up to 3 months or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 2 years. For many vegans, this is the way to do it.
When you decide that a vegan diet is your diet, there are two ways to approach it. One way is the increasingly popular raw diet, which involves eating fresh herbal foods. You can get involved in the preparation of various drinks made from fresh ingredients, so-called “smoothie meals” and various salads.
If this is too radical for you and you decide to eat a specific meal, after all, you will need to learn how to cook. It’s not a bad idea to experiment with flavors. Foods may be limited, but this should not discourage you.
If you decide to start cooking, and you do not want to give up from vegan sweets, or baking you are going to need all those ingredients that are helpful to make something delicious – and shortening is one of those elements. But, of course, it also should be vegan!
Now you know, you can make your shortening that is for sure a vegan one, you have a recipe to make it; and on the market, you have an option to buy one, but as we have said the problem is that on that market in most countries you cannot find the vegan shortening easily.
Whatever you do, be informed, while you are baking for yourself, or buying.