Slate Magazine references the book Fat: an Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. The book has won the Best Single Subject Cookbook award, as well as Cookbook of the Year, at the 2009 James Beard Awards, and is on my bedside table. This gist of the article is that lard has gotten a bad rap.
Lard's advantages over vegetable shortening:
1. No trans fats to cause an immune/inflammatory response
2. Mostly monounsaturated, and even the saturated portion will increase your HDL*
3. Great taste and texture in cooking/baking
4. Higher smoking point (along with coconut and palm oils), meaning less fat absorbed by whatever you're frying
Vegetable shortening's advantages over lard:
1. Um, none that I can think of
The article outlines a method to make your own lard. Unfortunately, unless your live near my brothers and my mom in Charlotte, NC (pork capital of the world!), it can be difficult to find pork fat in your grocery store. I make my lard with Trader Joe's Low Sodium Bacon, following the method outlined in the article. You can even use this TJ Lard in cooking/baking; just don't add any additional salt to your recipe.
*Remember HDL is the "good" cholesterol and you want that level to be higher