I love cheese. I am a vegetarian, not a vegan for this reason.
However, I was recently told (by my sister, who has been a vegetarian for over 12 years now) that most processed cheeses contain something called animal rennet.
So, I did some research. Animal rennet is made from the fourth stomach of a calf or a lamb, and contains an enzyme that helps to speed up the coagulation and separate the milk into solid curds and liquid whey, according to Vegetarian Network. This may not seem strange to your everyday omnivore or carnivore, but to all of my fellow vegetarian cheese lovers, this is bad news.
I, since, have only been buying cheese made without animal rennet to stick to my pure vegetarian lifestyle.
Here’s the low down on how to differentiate vegetarian cheese from cheese made with animal rennet and other animal byproducts:
1.) Read the ingredient labels. (Why didn’t I ever think of this before?) All you have to do is check out the ingredient label on the back of the cheese packaging while shopping. Brands like Cabot, an all-natural cheese made in Vermont, USA, are rennet free. Check the ingredient labels of your cheese before you purchase!
2.) Don’t assume that cheese is animal rennet free if it is expensive or is found at a health food store or co-op. The Burlington Co-op has both cheese with rennet and without, so, so reinforce my first point, read labels!
3.) Ask if the cheese is vegetarian when eating out at a restaurant. Around the Elon area, they may look at you a little funny when you ask, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Good luck, vegetarian-cheese lovers!