Cheeses – What to watch out for

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 found this site called where they list all the cheese brands there are and if they’re suitable for vegetarians to consume.  They list By Brand and they list also By Type of Cheese.

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!!

25 Responses to “Cheeses – What to watch out for”

  1. dganit May 15, 2008 at 3:05 am #

    just so you know Kosher cheeses do not contain Rennet or any other meat products so it’s always vegetarian.

  2. meera August 28, 2008 at 5:43 pm #

    I too am very watchful when I buy cheese. You can buy the Amul cheese from any Indian stores. They are rennet free.

  3. and solar panels for your home November 21, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    Nice information there! I just thought of to become your regular reader but the problem is your site doesn’t seem compatible /friendly when it show in KMeleon browser which I use regularly other than internet explorer, hope you can get it fix soon, thanks in advance.

  4. Adan Kamman May 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Excellent post, Im surprisingly enlightened

  5. Kim, Rambling Family Manager May 26, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    I’m aware of the rennet issue but my problem is with the ambiguous labeling term “enzymes”. Do enzymes automatically equal animal rennet?

    • karmafreecooking May 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

      Kim, Very good question… I do not know if “enzymes” automatically mean rennet… I have asked myself this very same question. I guess we’ll need to do more in-depth investigative work on this topic…

    • rachelgoestoaplay June 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      enzymes are the food companies’ tricky way of getting around admitting that there is animal product in their foods. my guess is to eliminate people finding out, freaking out, and not buying the product. so the government lets them use “enzymes.” kraft says this is because consumers “should know” what goes into the cheese “may” contain animal products. what a load of crap. some major cheese companies, like sargento, don’t use animal enzymes, but the packages still says “enzymes” so it’s very vague. you basically have to take the initiative to do your own research to determine which cheeses are vegetarian. to my knowledge, several kinds of sargento are vegetarian, cabot and most tillamook cheeses. kraft is a no-go, same with generics like great value and hyvee cheeses.

  6. boracay guide June 14, 2010 at 2:27 am #

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    • karmafreecooking June 14, 2010 at 7:31 am #

      Hi… and welcome to KarmaFree Cooking… you can certainly keep up-to-date with all our posts by subscribing to our RSS feed or subscribing via email, where you’ll receive an email in your inbox everytime a post is published. I am glad you like our content… and share it with everyone you feel might be interested…

  7. Pink Office Chair July 24, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Great info. I have just subscribed to your rss to keep updated.

  8. Ryan Woollard October 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    Someone I work with visits your blog frequently and recommended it to me to read also. The writing style is great and the content is interesting. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!

    • KarmaFree Cooking October 7, 2010 at 11:27 am #

      @Ryan – Welcome!!! I am so gald you found us. Hope you enjoy our content and hope to see/read your comments here often. And to reciprocate, just like your friend did… share KarmaFree Cooking with your friends. Thanks for visiting.

  9. ingilizce kursu June 18, 2011 at 10:30 am #

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  10. Butterball Turkey Fryer August 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Nice post thank you for the info

  11. Big Boss Grill August 20, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    Yep nice info i will try it thank you

  12. Grace November 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I found you on the internet and I see this post was very useful for me. Thanks you very much and hope to see you at my blog.
    Christmas is comming around.

  13. foodvore January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Some cheese are added with cellulose, which is actually wood pulp. It is functioning as thickener per

  14. nhac cho March 28, 2012 at 4:23 am #

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  16. Rf Kumanda Sistemleri January 30, 2013 at 8:29 am #

    Nice post thank you for the info

  17. Kablosuz Kamera January 30, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    thanks 🙂

  18. birhavuz February 24, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    thanks .::))

  19. Maulik May 5, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    You know how to make microbial rennet? And truth is vegiatrian chess must be bitter have any body says which company’s cheese is bitter in taste? In short commercially maid chese are not vegetation

    • KarmaFree Cooking May 6, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

      nope… i do not know how to make vegetarian rennet. Have not ventured into cheese-making at all. Madelyn.

  20. EvaR June 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Thank you! I’m a newbie vegetarian and I was looking for something like this.
    I’m happy to notice that the cheeses on the list are not much different pricewise than the cheeses I was already buying!

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