Lard contains the same amount of calories as vegetable shortenings, about 120 calories per tablespoon. All fats usually have a caloric content of about 9 calories per gram. Lard is made from animal fat, usually pork. Depending on its source and the method used for rendering it, most chefs prefer using lard to butter and other fats because it has a higher smoking temperature and produces a better texture in foods such as pie crusts.
Like all animal fats, lard contains cholesterol and saturated fats, approximately 15 grams of cholesterol and 56 grams of saturated fat per serving. Additionally, to extend its shelf life, lard may also contain hydrogenated vegetable oils in the form of trans fats, which are linked to increased instances of heart disease.
Vegetable shortening is made from one or a blend of vegetable oils such as coconut, palm and soy. It is cheaper to produce than lard and requires no refrigeration. It also does not produce gluten, so can be ingested by people on a gluten-free diet. However, may vegetable shortenings contain trans fats from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, although some brands now have low or no levels of trans fats.
Vegetable shortening also contains slightly lower amounts of saturated fats than lard. Some chefs prefer the use of vegetable shortenings to lard because it tends to taste more like butter.