Is Cheese Vegetarian? What You Need to Know
When it comes to enhancing dishes, the use of cheese in the culinary world is incomparable! No other ingredient in a kitchen can measure up to the taste and texture that cheese brings about in a dish. A small drizzle of it is just plenty to enrich any dish to perfection.
Vegan or Vegetarian?
Did you know that one of the particular aspects which parts a vegan from a vegetarian is ‘cheese?’ – While vegan diets do not comprise of any animal products, vegetarian diets on the other hand consist of a few exceptions like cheese.
So, Is Cheese Vegetarian?
Nevertheless, not all the cheese that the vegetarians consume is vegetarian. Study shows that most vegetarians until now had been consuming cheese regularly over the years thinking that it was made entirely from milk and that they were lactovegetarians. In fact, most vegetarians have spent half of their lives thinking most of the cheese they consume is vegetarian and does not come from any sort of animal cruelty. Sadly enough, that is certainly not the case.
An appropriate example might be the regular parmesan cheese you use at home while making a pizza, pasta or lasagna. This particular cheese requires ‘rennet,’ which contains an active enzyme called chymosin. This is found in the abdominal lining of calves and goats. Also, younger calves are mostly preferred because it just makes the cheese taste even better. And there is not really any other ways present yet to develop this rennet other than slaughtering these innocent animals.
The use of rennet has been going on for years in the cheese industry and it used to be very much popular while making European and Old-World style cheeses. The rennet is basically responsible for the coagulation while making the cheese. It helps to transform the milk into solid curds, which is then finally converted to cheese. Hence, if you are a vegetarian, trust us when we say that, you must try your very best to avoid cheeses like parmesan from now on.
Nonetheless, the list of cheeses which use this enzyme does not only limit to parmesan. The list also comprises of the following varieties of cheese: Pecorino Romano, Vacherin, Gorgonzola, Spain’s Manchego, Grana Padano, Gruyere, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mimolette, Boucheron, Camembert and Emmenthaler.
You should always carry this list while you are at the grocery store because cheeses like parmesan, Gorgonzola or Grana Padano will always use calf rennet to make their cheese since it has been proven that the use of rennet makes the cheese taste 600% better.
Conversely, it is actually possible to find vegetarian cheese in the market nowadays, due to all the new brands stepping up for vegetarians. These brands also use rennet, but the only difference is that they use microbial enzymes to make their cheese. This microbial enzyme used to make vegetarian cheese is known as vegetable rennet or GMO-based rennet. A lot of widely held brands like Kraft have disclosed that they use microbial enzymes to make their cheese.
Did you know that UK has made it official for the manufacturers of cheese to put a label on their products to know where the rennet is coming? So, make sure to always be on the lookout for labels while buying cheese.
Also, the cheese-making business has recently taken a likeness into making plant based cheese rather than making the non-veg cheese for its consumers. Not only is this saving small calves from being slaughtered, but is also helping the company save more money since it is cheaper.
Your Alternative Options
Now, there are quite a few substitutes that you can use to still have that cheesy flavor in your dishes without using the actual cheese made out of rennet. One good example can be the vegan parmesan cheese which tastes absolutely delicious! It is made from walnuts and you can try out the bran Parma if you want to give this one a try. Another great option would be using nutritional yeast for flavoring your dishes.
However, one of the most common alternatives that people are using nowadays is ‘whey craze.’ The whey business has particularly grown because of its targeted selection of people for its marketing. They usually target people who are diet conscious or if we had to be more specific, are professional players or athletes.
The whey is basically the liquid that comes out from the cheesecloth. So what they do is, formulate this liquid into a solid state of powder, and talk about the benefits of consuming it for your health. However, if you are a vegetarian by heart, you should definitely avoid whey because it is ultimately made up from the by-product of the cheese which has been made using rennet.
The List of Vegetarian Cheese
So, if you had to make a list of the cheeses which are vegetarian, we would advise you to begin your list with ‘Paneer.’ This Indian Cheese as well as the Ricotta Cheese, do not contain rennet in them. You can also try out the different kinds of cheese from the brands mentioned below which produce vegetarian cheese. The list consists of the following:
- American Cheese – Dutch Farms, Happy Farms(ALDI), Boars Head, Horizon Organic
- Brie Cheese – Reny Picot
- Camembert – Reny Picot, Caroselle, Murray’s
- Cheddar – Amul, Caroselle, 365 (Whole Foods), Bass Lake Cheese Factory, Kroger Brand, Crystal Farms, Horizon Organics, Kirkland Signature, Stella Cheese, Organic Valley, etc.
- Cottage Cheese – Friendly Farms (ALDI), Horizon Organic, 365 (Whole Foods)
- Goat – 365 (Whole Foods), Alta Dena, etc.
- Paneer – Gopi, Verka, Specialty Cheese Company, Amazon
- Parmesan – Caroselle, Dutch Farms, 365 (Whole Foods), etc.
- Mozzarella – 365 (Whole Foods), Lynn Dairy, Organic Valley, Haolam, Horizon Organic, Dutch Farms, Lifetime Cheese, Miller’s Cheese, Pacific Cheese, etc.
- Ricotta – Cappiello Foods, Priano (ALDI) etc.
- Blue Cheese – Murray’s, Stella Cheese, Boars Head, Treasure Cave Cheese
- Swiss – Brewster Cheese, Dutch Farms, Happy Farms, etc.
- Vegan Swiss – Daya
- Cream Cheese – Boars Head, Horizon Organic, Kraft, 365 (Whole Foods), Happy farms (ALDI), Philadelphia
Another definite vegetarian cheese would be kosher cheeses. These cheeses generally have a symbol of OU or K on the packaging it comes in. Most grocery stores or supermarkets usually have a separate section for kosher products. Make sure to check out the international aisle the next time you are at a grocery store.
However, the list does not end here. So, yes! You have a lot more other brands and options to choose from once you have tried out the ones listed above. You can also do a little research of your own to find out which cheese goes best with the dish you are making. Remember, the information is just one click away! Also, now that you have a vague idea about all the vegetarian cheese brands out there, buying cheese should be an easy task for you now!
All in all, the best way to avoid eating non-veg cheese would be to start a vegan diet. Otherwise, you will always have to end up looking out for the labels while you are cheese shopping. If the product you want to buy does not contain any label on it, try to steer clear of that particular brand or product. Better being safe than sorry!
- Bad News: These 11 Cheeses Aren’t Always Vegetarian – HuffPost LIFE
- The 2019 List of Vegetarian Cheeses and Brands – Vegetatio