I have steadily eaten less and less cheese over recent times but it has always had a place in my weekly shop in some form or other. Favourites included, mild and creamy Dolcelatte, fresh and tangy nettle-wrapped Cornish Yarg, and the nutty yet fruity firmness of Manchego. I didn’t realise until exploring the concept of vegan cheese that the majority of cheeses use calf rennet in the production process for curdling, that is separating the milk into curds and whey. Most softer cheeses like cream cheese, cottage cheese and paneer don’t. Calf rennet comes from the stomachs of new-born male calves who are slaughtered for veal. While I knew about the gender selection of animals at birth, if I did know about the animal rennet in cheese making, the fact had got lost somewhere in my broad and unthinking understanding of what constitutes a “dairy” product.
For years it seems I have been eating non-vegetarian cheese – this is an unexpected surprise that I feel quite stupid about. I am not sure whether I will try vegan cheese. I have not actually missed it over the last 13 days and I am not sold on the idea of substitute products. There are after all so many diet possibilities with common whole foods, vegetables and fruits that makes a vegan enquiry a time for new tastes and habits to develop. Let alone a greater awareness of what goes into my basket.
Image via HuffingtonBlogPost