You have to give it to Whole Foods for always being progressive when it comes to catering to a vegetarian audience. Whole Foods is expensive, but they make up in their attention to the needs of their consumers.
I am cheese lover… I think if you’re an avid reader of this blog you might already knew that. Look at the Tag Cloud on your right… And it’s a challenge for me when I am buying cheese to make sure the cheeses I buy are vegetarian. I read all the labels and make sure the cheeses I buy at home are free of animal-based rennet.
I remember once at Murray’s Cheese at Grand Central Market when I asked one of the attendants if they had any rennet-free cheeses and she politely, but surely said: “Without rennet, cheese can’t be made. All cheeses have rennet in them.” The words stabbed me like a dagger in my heart… WHAT!?!? That ALL CHEESES HAVE RENNET???? Impossible!! We used regular cheeses at the yoga center and if those cheeses have rennet, why are we using them constantly???
The girl at Murray’s was not that far off reality… Because rennet is an enzyme used to coagulate milk into curds that are turned into cheese… and the animal-based rennet is derived from the stomachs of baby calves. Not nice… the thing is that there is animal-based rennet and vegetarian or microbial rennet. The difference is the latter 2 are the only ones suitable for a vegetarian diet. Apparently, most commercial cheeses use enzymes or rennet derived from fungi or bacteria making them suitable for vegetarians.
Artisanal cheeses, clinging to tradition, usually use animal-based rennet. And what I love about Whole Foods is they now label their cheeses letting their customers know which cheeses are OK for vegetarian consumption. Check out the photos here of cheese labels stating if they have Vegetarian Rennet or Traditional Rennet.
Also, the Whole Foods 365 Brand also mentions in their packaging when their cheese is Vegetarian… Until know, the only brands I knew included in their labeling they do not use animal rennet were Cabot and Tillamook Cheese (although the do use animal rennet in 2 varieties only… always read the labels or their websites).
I believe with time, vegetarian food shopping will become easier and easier with the availability of products suitable for our lifestyle. I am sure this came about due to the amount of people asking the same question over and over again. “Does this cheese contain animal-rennet???”
BTW, can u tell I am into goat cheeses????
Now, as a vegetarian, I can shop for cheeses more at ease … and you can too!!!