Crisco is a popular brand of vegetable shortening that has been around since 1911. Many people wonder is crisco vegan? The ingredients in Crisco have raised questions in the vegan community. While Crisco claims to be made of vegetable oils, some specific ingredients lead to doubts about whether Crisco is 100% plant-based and vegan.
- Crisco is marketed as a vegan-friendly vegetable shortening, but some ingredients like palm oil and mono & diglycerides raise doubts.
- Palm oil itself contains no animal products, but its environmental impact troubles some vegans.
- Mono and diglycerides can come from plant or animal sources, and Crisco doesn’t specify their origin.
- Crisco contains no obvious animal-derived ingredients like dairy or eggs.
- Crisco today contains zero grams of trans fat per serving, but may have trace amounts.
- The debate around whether Crisco is “100% vegan” continues in the vegan community.
- Each vegan must decide whether Crisco aligns with their own diet and lifestyle standards.
What is Crisco?
Crisco is a vegetable shortening made of hydrogenated vegetable oils. The original Crisco shortening was made from cottonseed oil, but today’s Crisco is made with soybean oil instead.
Crisco was first created in 1911 by Procter & Gamble as an alternative to lard and butter. It was marketed as being healthier than animal fats.
The name “Crisco” is derived from the words “crystallized cottonseed oil.” Crisco allowed people to make baked goods with vegetable oil instead of animal fats for the first time.
Is Vegetable Shortening Vegan? (Crisco Shortening)
Vegetable shortening is solid at room temperature. It contains fats derived from plant sources, which makes it vegan. However, some brands of vegetable shortening contain ingredients like mono and diglycerides, which may come from plant or animal sources.
Therefore, mono- and diglycerides are considered a type of lipid or fat source. Mono- and diglycerides may be manufactured through the reaction of plant- or animal-derived fatty acids with glycerol, or via the breakdown of plant- or animal-derived fats and oils.
So while vegetable shortening itself is vegan, not every brand of it is necessarily vegan. The source of ingredients like mono and diglycerides needs to be checked.
What Ingredients Are in Crisco?
Crisco consists of vegetable oils like soybean oil and fully hydrogenated palm oil. However, Crisco shortening also contains:
- Mono and diglycerides
- Citric acid
The original and butter flavored versions also contain:
- Natural and artificial flavors
- Beta carotene for color
Palm oil itself does not contain any animal products. But the production methods of palm oil raise environmental concerns for some vegans.
Mono and diglycerides can be derived from either plant or animal sources. Crisco does not specify the source of their mono and diglycerides.
So while Crisco is marketed as “all-vegetable”, some particular ingredients make its vegan status questionable.
Is Palm Oil Vegan?
Palm oil is extracted from the fruit of palm trees. In itself, palm oil is completely vegan. However, there are sustainability and environmental concerns when it comes to palm oil.
The high demand for palm oil leads to deforestation in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil cultivation causes destruction of rainforests which serve as habitats for endangered wildlife species.
Some vegans prefer to avoid palm oil for this reason. While palm oil itself contains no animal ingredients, its production may harm animal habitats.
Are Mono and Diglycerides Vegan?
Mono and diglycerides are a type of food additive or emulsifier. They are made from glycerin, which can be derived from either animal fats or plant oils.
If mono and diglycerides are sourced from plants, they are vegan friendly. But if they come from animal fats like beef or pork, they are not vegan.
Crisco does not specify whether their mono and diglycerides are from plant or animal sources. So this ambiguous ingredient creates doubt about whether Crisco shortening is 100% vegan.
Does Crisco Contain Dairy or Eggs?
Crisco has confirmed that their products do not contain any dairy or eggs. Even the butter flavored Crisco shortening does not actually contain any dairy ingredients.
The fat in Crisco comes completely from vegetable oils. Crisco does not contain butter, milk, lactose or any other animal-derived ingredients. It is dairy-free.
So Crisco definitely does not contain any obvious animal products like dairy or eggs. But the mono and diglycerides remain a gray area when it comes to veganism.
Is Crisco Tested on Animals?
Up until 2020, Crisco was owned by Proctor and Gamble, which conducted some animal testing. This was another concern regarding Crisco’s cruelty-free status for vegans.
However, in 2020 Crisco was acquired by B&G Foods, which does not test any of its products on animals. B&G foods is certified by PETA to be a cruelty-free company.
So fortunately today, Crisco vegetable shortening is no longer tested on animals either. This makes it align better with vegan values.
Does Butter Flavored Crisco Contain Dairy?
The butter flavored Crisco shortening contains natural and artificial butter flavor. But it does not actually contain any milk or dairy ingredients.
The butter flavor is added using natural and artificial flavor components. It gives Crisco a rich, buttery taste that mimics real butter. But it is 100% dairy-free.
So people with dairy allergies can safely consume Crisco butter flavored shortening. Those on a vegan diet can eat it too.
Is Crisco Healthy?
Crisco vegetable shortening is high in calories and contains no vitamins or minerals. Here is how it compares health-wise to butter:
- Crisco contains zero cholesterol, while butter contains high cholesterol
- Crisco has 50% less saturated fat than butter
- Butter contains vitamins A, D, E and K, while Crisco contains none
- Crisco used to contain trans fats, but now has zero grams trans fat per serving
- Crisco is completely fat and oil, while butter contains some protein, carbs and nutrients
So while Crisco is healthier than butter and lard when it comes to cholesterol and trans fats, it is still high in calories and low in overall nutrition.
Does Crisco Contain Trans Fats?
Original formulations of Crisco shortening contained trans fats from the hydrogenation process. But in 2007, Crisco reformulated their recipe to remove trans fats.
Crisco vegetable shortening today contains less than 1 gram of trans fat per serving. So Crisco has drastically reduced trans fat content compared to earlier versions.
However, “less than 1 gram” still allows for small amounts of trans fat in Crisco. Some vegans prefer to avoid any trans fats at all.
Is Crisco Non-GMO?
Crisco products are not certified non-GMO. The oils used in Crisco like soybean oil likely come from GMO crops.
Some brands of vegetable shortening explicitly state they use non-GMO ingredients. But standard Crisco products likely contain GMO-derived oils, since there is no non-GMO label.
Is Crisco Gluten-Free?
Yes, Crisco vegetable shortening is gluten-free. It does not contain any wheat, barley, rye or other gluten-containing ingredients.
So Crisco can be used in gluten-free recipes and by people who have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.
What Are Some Alternatives to Crisco?
Here are some alternatives vegans can use instead of Crisco:
- Coconut oil – Vegan and plant-based. Provides unique coconut flavor.
- Vegan butter – Contains plant-based oils and emulsifiers. Mimics texture of real butter.
- Vegan margarine – Made from vegetable oils. Stays solid at room temperature like Crisco.
- Olive oil – Provides added health benefits and vegetable oil flavor.
- Sunflower oil – Contains vitamin E and healthy fats. Light in flavor.
Is Crisco Considered Vegan?
According to Crisco, their shortening contains no animal-derived ingredients. However, palm oil and mono and diglycerides give some vegans pause. Small amounts of trans fats also turn some vegans away.
So whether Crisco is “100% vegan” is still debated in the community. The ingredients check the technical boxes, but Crisco remains controversial.
Each vegan must decide whether potential environmental impact or unlisted animal products in mono and diglycerides make Crisco off-limits for them.
While Crisco can technically be considered vegan based on its ingredients list, many vegans choose to avoid it due to concerns over:
- Sustainability of palm oil
- True source of mono and diglycerides
- Trace amounts of trans fats
- Highly processed nature
For vegans who strictly avoid potential animal products, GMO ingredients, trans fats and highly processed foods, Crisco likely does not make the cut.
But for vegans who are less strict, Crisco can be an acceptable occasional substitute for butter in baking.
So whether to consume Crisco ultimately comes down to each vegan’s personal standards and priorities around food. Crisco sits in a grey area when it comes to its vegan status.
Does Crisco contain any animal products?
Crisco does not contain any obvious animal-derived ingredients like meat, dairy or eggs. However, there are doubts around mono and diglycerides.
Is palm oil vegan?
Yes, palm oil itself contains no animal products. But its impact on the environment troubles some vegans.
Are mono and diglycerides vegan?
Maybe. Mono and diglycerides can come from either plant or animal sources. Crisco does not specify their origin.
Is butter-flavored Crisco vegan?
Yes. Butter flavored Crisco contains no actual dairy ingredients. The butter flavor comes from plant-based artificial and natural flavors.
Why do some vegans avoid Crisco?
Concerns over palm oil, mono and diglycerides, trace trans fats and highly processed nature make some vegans avoid Crisco.
Conclusion: Is Crisco Vegan?
Crisco shortening walks a fine line when it comes to veganism. While it technically contains no obvious animal ingredients like dairy or eggs, some aspects of Crisco are controversial in the vegan community.
Vegans concerned about environmental impact of palm oil, trace trans fats and unknown sources of additives like mono and diglycerides often avoid Crisco. But more casual vegans may still opt to enjoy Crisco for an occasional treat.
The debate around Crisco’s use continues in the vegan world. But each individual must weigh the pros and cons to decide if Crisco fits their own vegan diet and lifestyle. There is no definitive perfect answer that applies to all vegans.