Most Cheese is NOT Vegetarian!

calf--it's stomach is in your cheese

This is what rennet looks like. Or should I say, this is what cheese looks like before it’s processed.¬†

A vast majority of cheese—both domestic and imported—is made with rennet, an enzyme in the lining of a calf’s stomach (lamb for sheep cheese, baby goat for goat cheese). Although, rennet is now being made from the stomachs of pigs, too. Nice huh? Bet many of you didn’t know that. Rennet is used to coagulate dairy products and even though there are non-animal sources of rennet, most cheese companies use the real thing. Via The Natural Connection, this is what a Kraft cheese representative said:

“Kraft Domestic Swiss Cheese (any Kraft Swiss not labeled “Imported” from a foreign country) is made with microbial rennet. Apart from Kraft Domestic Swiss Cheese, it is almost impossible for us to assure you that any hard cheese product which you might purchase from Kraft or any other American source is absolutely free of animal-derived enzymes.”

And did you know that there is only ONE vegetarian¬†Parmigiano-Reggiano? In fact, most imported cheeses use rennet, too. So just buy cheese without rennet, you say? Good luck finding out just which cheeses are rennet-free based on their labels. Companies are not legally bound to disclose their source of rennet. If you’re lucky, the label will specifically state that their products contain a non-animal rennet, or say “suitable for vegetarians.” Another way is to buy certified kosher cheese.

And what kind of cheese do you think restaurants use? Most serve cheap, bulk cheese. Kraft, most likely. Find out next time you think you’re ordering a “vegetarian” meal. Chances are, it’s not vegetarian at all.

One thing that I think is very important for people to know, is that the dairy industry is just as cruel as the meat industry. How do you think cow’s milk is obtained? By keeping cows perpetually pregnant. The calves that are born are immediately taken from their mothers, often killed on the spot, and their stomachs are harvested.

First, I encourage you to kick the dairy habit, but if you don’t, at least know what’s in it. Here’s a list of dairy companies and whether or not they are vegetarian.


(Newborn calves are often thrown into a wheelbarrow and taken to a cage to await execution)


  1. Teresa Redmond-Ott says

    Sad but true. Thanks for informing folks, April. Every time we see cheese on tv commercials, we see a newborn calf being slaughtered (many times in front of the grieving momma cow) in order to make that product. No longer appealing, and our health has been better for it. Win- win!

    • epicureanvegan says

      You’re absolutely right, Teresa. The dairy industry is just as cruel and unscrupulous as the slaughterhouses and not only that, they are getting away with misleading the public about their practices, the effects of their products on our body—particularly our bones—and what ingredients they use.

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