I am convinced I was a mouse in another life. I LOOOOOOOVE cheese and I could live on any combination of cheese and flour – you name it: pizza, mac & cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese toasts, cheese fritters, shall I go on?
I am aware I cook with a lot of cheese. Actually, after noticing my tag cloud has a HUGE cheese tag, I decided I need to cook with less cheese. I need to exude moderation, but the Holidays have been hard.
Nevertheless, even though cheese’s primary ingredient is some sort of milk – cow, goat, sheep, etc. Us vegetarians need to be very mindful not all cheeses are created equal. And thinking that by using the milk of an animal is natural and animals are not killed to get it, some cheeses contain additives which in fact make them less suitable to consume for people who are trying to live a karma-free lifestyle.
The culprit is RENNET. Rennet is a coagulant used to turn milk into cheese.
According to information I got from Whole Foods (Oh, how I wish we had a Whole Foods in Puerto Rico!!!!), rennet is commonly “…extracted from calf stomachs by killing the calves, cutting the stomach into strips, scraping the lining to remove surface fat, stretching it onto racks where moisture is removed, grinding it and then finally mixing it with a salt solution until the rennin, which is their digestive enzymes, is extracted.” Enough of the graphic stuff.
This is easy… READ THE LABELS of the cheese you buy. Do not buy or consume any cheese with the ingredient RENNET.
However, there are many brands of cheeses out there that are cognizant of this and are manufacturing cheeses with the need of animal rennet and are actually including this in their labeling. CABOT is such a company. Their from Vermont and include in their label their product does not include animal rennet.
I know I’ve probably added a new layer of complexity when eating out or going to parties, because people usually have a cheese platter to attend to the needs of us vegetarians, but don’t fret. Educate yourself with the brands you like and are suitable to eat and try to avoid it as much as you can.
And remember, that if you want to be super super… there’s always soy and rice cheeses.
See you at the cheese counter.
I recently also learned about this additional source of information regarding rennet and other ingredient names to avoid in the labeling… Thanks Kimberly for the link!!