Cheese confusion - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-11-2015, 10:10 AM
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Question Cheese confusion

I'm sure there's plenty of threads for this somewhere in the Board, but since I'm not sure where to start looking, I'd like to pose my questions here.

I've been vegetarian for quite a few years now, and I've been rather naive when it comes to cheese. I've consumed cheese a lot more indiscriminately than I probably should of. I'm not sure if I will go vegan any time too soon, but I definitely want to make sure that I am buying cheeses that do not necessitate the slaughtering of animals.

I've known about about generally avoiding rennet when listed, but unless I see "rennet" listed (obviously unless it specifies "non-animal rennet"), I'd typically ignored general statements like "enzymes" and stuff about lipases. Now I want to pay a lot more attention to what I'm purchasing and consuming when it comes to cheese.

So...
  • What's the rule of thumb when it comes to buying cheeses that do not necessitate animal slaughtering?
  • What are brands of common, commercially available cheeses that are ethically sound when it comes to their cheese making processes (no animal-derrived rennet, enzymes, lipases, etc.)?
  • I'm a college student, and my roommates order a lot of pizza-- are there any pizza places that might ACTUALLY have vegetarian cheese, or should I always go cheeseless?
  • What else should I keep in mind?

Any and all help would be appreciated!

Thank you muchly!
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#2 Old 08-11-2015, 10:17 AM
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1. they all necessitate animal slaughter. the cow has to be pretty much continually pregnant, she has to give birth to give milk. but they take her baby away as soon as it is born and the baby gets killed to make veal after being imprisoned in a tiny cell and kept anemic through its short life. when the mother's productivity wanes she gets killed because it isn't cost effective to let her have a peaceful remaining life.

2. i think avoiding animal-based rennet is about 0.00001% of the problem

3. i'd go for cheeseless. add "field roast" brand chao yourself. but i think there ought to be a deep discount for cheeseless pizza. since there isn't, i just skip it or make it at home.

4. learn to make cheese substitutes

i am still eagerly awaiting excellent substitutes for aged cheddar, feta, etc. i don't think it will be too long. in the meantime recall that cheese is mostly saturated fat and it isn't good for you.
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#3 Old 08-11-2015, 01:18 PM
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As cuberail said, no cheese can avoid animal slaughter. So if you keep eating it (as I do), it's with the knowledge of the harm you do. I don't feel bad enough about it to stop eating cheese (and drinking milk or using butter). Still, I'm trying to avoid dairy when I eat alone, but those products are so rich that I still need to figure how not to become severely underweight if I stop with them !

I ate my first cheese substitute last Sunday, in a veg-friendly pub (bread soaked in cheese and beer with a slice of ham). The dish was amazing but I didn't really got the taste of the cheese sub (yay beer). Also, that was my first ham sub. I'm not into subs that much.

Good luck, and let us know the path you choose !


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Bon appétit !
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#4 Old 08-11-2015, 01:21 PM
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I think cuberail's answer to this question was a very vegan response, rather than one looking at this from a vegetarian diet point of view.

If a cheese doesn't contain renet, it doesn't contain animal slaughter products or bi-products and is therefore suitable for vegetarians.

The question of how ethical it is to breed animals to produce dairy products is a different issue, but this is a concern more in keeping with a vegan lifestyle.

In summary I'd say, eating many cheeses is fine if you're a vegetarian, but very much not if you're a vegan.

For me, I actually turn a blind eye to renet content. I know I shouldn't really, but I feel morally content that I'm doing my bit by not eating meat. I don't wish to cross the line by becoming a pain in the a**e for people that may be cooking for me!
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Last edited by mr_falafel; 08-11-2015 at 01:23 PM. Reason: Lack of clarity with previous wording
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#5 Old 08-11-2015, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_falafel View Post
For me, I actually turn a blind eye to renet content. I know I shouldn't really, but I feel morally content that I'm doing my bit by not eating meat. I don't wish to cross the line by becoming a pain in the a**e for people that may be cooking for me!
Ow, I forgot to mention that

Even vegetarians should know that the calves are killed for meat so we can drink the milk. It makes one killed calf for liters and liters of milk, so it's one sad cow and very little death if you compare it to meat eating.
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Bon appétit !
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#6 Old 08-11-2015, 01:42 PM
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Ow, I forgot to mention that

Even vegetarians should know that the calves are killed for meat so we can drink the milk. It makes one killed calf for liters and liters of milk, so it's one sad cow and very little death if you compare it to meat eating.
I'm not entirely sure what your stance is based on that. Are you supporting the suggestion that's it's ok for a vegetarian to eat cheese?
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#7 Old 08-11-2015, 01:53 PM
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I'm not entirely sure what your stance is based on that. Are you supporting the suggestion that's it's ok for a vegetarian to eat cheese?
Uh. It surely is ok for a vegetarian to eat cheese. It is also ok to wonder why vegans do not, hear them and decide "well, those people have a fair point but I'm not getting into this". And keep on eating cheese. While knowing about the calves. That's what I'm doing !


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#8 Old 08-11-2015, 02:01 PM
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Uh. It surely is ok for a vegetarian to eat cheese. It is also ok to wonder why vegans do not, hear them and decide "well, those people have a fair point but I'm not getting into this". And keep on eating cheese. While knowing about the calves. That's what I'm doing !
I see. I think part of my reasoning for being vegetarian and not vegan is that, at least in theory, it is possible to ethically milk a cow and produce dairy products, as it is to keep chickens for egg laying purposes.

There are however, no ethical ways of killing an animal for its meat. However you do that, you've taken its life and that's not good.
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#9 Old 08-11-2015, 02:04 PM
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Cheese was the biggest issue for me turning vegan.

I now use some 'vegan cheese' which I got from Tesco and to be honest it's not great, tastes like plastic.

The only thing I miss now is pizza but I'll get over it once I find somewhere that does vegan pizzas.
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#10 Old 08-11-2015, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuberail View Post
1. they all necessitate animal slaughter. the cow has to be pretty much continually pregnant, she has to give birth to give milk. but they take her baby away as soon as it is born and the baby gets killed to make veal after being imprisoned in a tiny cell and kept anemic through its short life. when the mother's productivity wanes she gets killed because it isn't cost effective to let her have a peaceful remaining life.

2. i think avoiding animal-based rennet is about 0.00001% of the problem

3. i'd go for cheeseless. add "field roast" brand chao yourself. but i think there ought to be a deep discount for cheeseless pizza. since there isn't, i just skip it or make it at home.

4. learn to make cheese substitutes

i am still eagerly awaiting excellent substitutes for aged cheddar, feta, etc. i don't think it will be too long. in the meantime recall that cheese is mostly saturated fat and it isn't good for you.

I'm definitely going to try cutting my dairy intake about half, for starters, because of the kind of stuff you mentioned. I posted this in the vegetarian section of the site, however, because I'm curious more-so about which cheeses are the most humanely produced.

Part of my problem, and this will address other comments, is that there are not a lot of substitute cheeses in my area. I've never seen or even heard of chao or the brand you mentioned. Granted, I'm totally willing to cut out cheese altogether if I need to, but right now it's a big source of my protein intake (I'm trying to get more into nuts and beans and other vegetable proteins) and a substantial part of my diet. While I did cut out meat all at once, I think cutting out dairy is going to be a more gradual process.

Aged cheddar and feta are my favorite, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ad Elie View Post
As cuberail said, no cheese can avoid animal slaughter. So if you keep eating it (as I do), it's with the knowledge of the harm you do. I don't feel bad enough about it to stop eating cheese (and drinking milk or using butter). Still, I'm trying to avoid dairy when I eat alone, but those products are so rich that I still need to figure how not to become severely underweight if I stop with them !
Yeah, that's tough for me. I don't feel too okay with the negative effects of eating most cheeses, now that I'm becoming more aware of how even cheese without animal-derived rennet is often still connected with the slaughtering of calves. Ugh.

Also, you hit another thing... I do want to cut out cheese more, if that'll help me lose some weight. There's definitely motivation here to choose better cheeses for when I *do* eat cheese and to cut out about half my cheese consumption as it is right away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_falafel View Post
If a cheese doesn't contain renet, it doesn't contain animal slaughter products or bi-products and is therefore suitable for vegetarians.
What about enzymes? Aren't lipases often animal-derived?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mr_falafel View Post
I see. I think part of my reasoning for being vegetarian and not vegan is that, at least in theory, it is possible to ethically milk a cow and produce dairy products, as it is to keep chickens for egg laying purposes.

There are however, no ethical ways of killing an animal for its meat. However you do that, you've taken its life and that's not good.
That's been my view. That's what I'm hoping to get some more information on: are any major, commercially available (I live in the United States) cheeses ethically milking cows and producing dairy products? I rather naively didn't question my cheese intake until fairly recently.

Thanks for the responses so far!
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#11 Old 08-11-2015, 02:38 PM
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Careful folks, please everyone keep in mind that the Vegetarian Support Forum is for support -- not criticism -- of people who have adopted a meatless diet, with or without dairy and egg.

It's natural to try and calculate what our own "cruelty footprints" are, and how we might reduce them. It might lead you to become vegan. Or you might find yourself reducing your dairy and egg consumption, maybe settling into eating more like a vegan at home and more like a vegetarian when you're out. If you're not eating more dairy and egg now than you were before you gave up meat, you have already reduced your own total animal consumption by a lot. If your levels are typical of American consumption, you used to eat about fifty chickens every year, and now as a vegetarian you eat zero. A huge change right there. And if you used to eat typical beef levels, that was the equivalent of one steer every ten years. So you've spared a steer per decade for the number of decades you still have left. And all those fish and shrimp that you've spared as well. Cut back as much more as you're happy with and that you can realistically sustain, but from where I see the animal numbers, I believe you already do most of the good you're going to do for animals by not eating meat.
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Last edited by Joan Kennedy; 08-11-2015 at 02:49 PM.
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#12 Old 08-11-2015, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Axxonn N View Post
I'm definitely going to try cutting my dairy intake about half, for starters, because of the kind of stuff you mentioned. I posted this in the vegetarian section of the site, however, because I'm curious more-so about which cheeses are the most humanely produced.

Part of my problem, and this will address other comments, is that there are not a lot of substitute cheeses in my area. I've never seen or even heard of chao or the brand you mentioned. Granted, I'm totally willing to cut out cheese altogether if I need to, but right now it's a big source of my protein intake (I'm trying to get more into nuts and beans and other vegetable proteins) and a substantial part of my diet. While I did cut out meat all at once, I think cutting out dairy is going to be a more gradual process.

Aged cheddar and feta are my favorite, too.
I don't think you should be trying to get most of your protein from dairy mainly because I don't think it's incredibly healthy to do so (also, baby cows and other ethical stuff). So, I'm glad you're looking at some other options.

Where are you in America? As in, state or city or something like that. Someone might be able to tell you about a secret find/vegan friendly place.

I have to say, my impression of America is that it's pretty much vegan heaven as far as food goes.

If you'd like to cut back on some cheeses, then why not try making some of your own. I made a feta out of tofu once. It was okay. not exactly the same, but close enough for what I wanted it for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axxonn N View Post

What about enzymes? Aren't lipases often animal-derived?

That's been my view. That's what I'm hoping to get some more information on: are any major, commercially available (I live in the United States) cheeses ethically milking cows and producing dairy products? I rather naively didn't question my cheese intake until fairly recently.

Thanks for the responses so far!
Yes, lipase is part of an animal. Enzymnes, in my experience, are usually another way of someone saying 'rennet' or part of an animal.

As for 'ethical' cheeses.....I think you need to define what you mean by ethical. That's what helped me make my decisions about dairy, egg and even meat. Given what you know about the dairy industry now, what does it need to do to meet your ethical standards?

If it can't make those standards, or you can't make peace with the decision you come to, then don't eat dairy. Or, as Joan says, reduce your intake.
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#13 Old 08-11-2015, 08:22 PM
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~,snip~

That's been my view. That's what I'm hoping to get some more information on: are any major, commercially available (I live in the United States) cheeses ethically milking cows and producing dairy products? I rather naively didn't question my cheese intake until fairly recently.

Thanks for the responses so far!
Sadly, I don't think there are.

Here is a good article on vegetarian-friendly cheeses.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/blog/...iendly-cheese/
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#14 Old 08-11-2015, 09:01 PM
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Where are you in America? As in, state or city or something like that. Someone might be able to tell you about a secret find/vegan friendly place.

I have to say, my impression of America is that it's pretty much vegan heaven as far as food goes.

If you'd like to cut back on some cheeses, then why not try making some of your own. I made a feta out of tofu once. It was okay. not exactly the same, but close enough for what I wanted it for.
I'm in North Dakota, which is pretty much the most rural and least populated state. The plus side is that there are a lot more traditional farms here... The down side is that it seems like unless you personally know people who farm/raise dairy cows, there's not much of a surplus of options here. There's a local dairy producer that I might look into, because they might be more ethical (which is very subjective, as you well point out) in what their doing. The biggest problem is that we're probably the place in the US with the fewest amounts of vegetarian options.

One of my goals is to learn how to cook more, although it's not a high priority (I have a lot of things I want to improve on, and they take precedence sometimes). I'd be interested in making my own dairy alternatives. Do you have any good recipes to link me to--especially if it's something a real dummy could handle?

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Sadly, I don't think there are.

Here is a good article on vegetarian-friendly cheeses.

http://www.vegetariantimes.com/blog/...iendly-cheese/
Thank you for the link!
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#15 Old 08-12-2015, 03:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axxonn N View Post
I'm in North Dakota, which is pretty much the most rural and least populated state. The plus side is that there are a lot more traditional farms here... The down side is that it seems like unless you personally know people who farm/raise dairy cows, there's not much of a surplus of options here. There's a local dairy producer that I might look into, because they might be more ethical (which is very subjective, as you well point out) in what their doing. The biggest problem is that we're probably the place in the US with the fewest amounts of vegetarian options.

One of my goals is to learn how to cook more, although it's not a high priority (I have a lot of things I want to improve on, and they take precedence sometimes). I'd be interested in making my own dairy alternatives. Do you have any good recipes to link me to--especially if it's something a real dummy could handle?



Thank you for the link!
I used to live in Crookston, Minnesota and visited North Dakota often, and I can fully imagine the lack of vegan options there. It is a fairly desolate area, not a lot of progressive types of stores around. I do however, remember the wonderfully rich soil and the awesome gardens I used to grow there.

I used to make my own flaxmilk. You really do need a high speed blender for it though. It helps to have one for almond milk as well, but rice milk can be made without a high speed blender. I order pure calcium powder online and vitamin D (vegan version) drops to supplement with and I would add those to my homemade plant milks for an easy way to get my calcium/D (and yes I also eat lots of leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, beans, and other sources of calcium/D). Even in Duluth I sometimes have trouble finding vegan vitamins and so on. In Crookston or North Dakota I imagine it would be very hard to find stuff like nutritional yeast, tempeh, chia seeds, agar flakes, sea vegetables. I even thought I had it good where I live now until I visited the twin Cities for the first time as a vegan. Wow, it is heaven there lol. I was so excited to find pure buckwheat soba noodles, kelp noodles, vegan marshmallows, nut cheeses lol. Nut cheeses are nearly impossible to find up here, but I have made my own almond cheese (it does require agar flakes).

Here is the flaxseed milk recipe:
http://www.healthfulpursuit.com/2012...ade-flax-milk/

I invested in a Blendtec high speed blender about four years ago and it has made my life so much easier lol. I rarely buy flour anymore. I can buy whole grains and blend them into a flour (such as buckwheat groats or oat groats) or use them for other dishes whole. Saves me money. Homemade nut/peanut butter is fun to make, and smoothies with leafy greens and veggies, and plant milks and homemade pesto and hummus. It was not cheap but I had saved up and used money from an inheritance to pay for the blender. I think a good food processor could do all those things too. Hummus and pesto sauces are great cheese alternatives you can have over pizza crust or in a sandwich. I have even made tomato/avocado grilled sandwiches in place of cheese sandwiches. Use coconut oil in place of butter for grilling the bread. It might be easier for you to find in a rural area than Earth Balance vegan butter.
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#16 Old 08-12-2015, 03:22 AM
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A lot of cheese is made without rennet these days - and rennet does involve the direct use of a dead animal's stomach lining (usually a calf).

Personally I buy vegetarian cheese for the household - but due to my lactose intolerance I can't eat it. Rennet free cheese is indistinguishable (for the most part) to cheese made with rennet - though if you are sensitive to it you will probably pick up on a faint vomity flavour in things like parmesan (which is always made with rennet).

I have found nothing in the vegan cheese department that is even remotely palatable - seriously it's some of the most disgusting stuff masquerading as food I have ever encountered (including but not limited to my early childhood experience of MacDonald's). If anyone knows of a vegan cheese that is not either plastic, grainy or utterly lacking in flavour I'd be very very interested.

All that being said I do quite like the 'nut cheeses' but that's probably because they're not trying to be cheese.
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#17 Old 08-12-2015, 07:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Axxonn N View Post
I'm in North Dakota, which is pretty much the most rural and least populated state. The plus side is that there are a lot more traditional farms here... The down side is that it seems like unless you personally know people who farm/raise dairy cows, there's not much of a surplus of options here. There's a local dairy producer that I might look into, because they might be more ethical (which is very subjective, as you well point out) in what their doing. The biggest problem is that we're probably the place in the US with the fewest amounts of vegetarian options.

One of my goals is to learn how to cook more, although it's not a high priority (I have a lot of things I want to improve on, and they take precedence sometimes). I'd be interested in making my own dairy alternatives. Do you have any good recipes to link me to--especially if it's something a real dummy could handle?
There's some great mac-and-cheese recipes out there that can be made vegan....

(And totally pick up Sarah Kramer's La Dolce Vegan. Not only for non-dairy stuff, but it helped me to make some healthier choices in regards to meal time because her recipes are -mostly- super easy to make. She has a vegan mac and cheese sauce....that's just. I can't.).

But even before recipes, it's just like when you gave up meat. You take one thing off and replace it with something else. So, instead of cheese on a wrap, put some avocado on instead. Instead of on spaghetti, use roasted pine nuts or cashews, or even Nutritional Yeast.

It's little things like that that really helped me. I reduced my dairy intake a lot, just by doing that.

And, also....This is a general tip, don't beat yourself up when you try to cook something new and fail. I was a terrible cook before I went vegetarian. Now, I can cook pretty well, but I've stuffed up a lot of dishes too. It all takes practice and while some people do have tremendous skill when it comes to food, cooking is one of those things where if you work hard at it, you can do it. It's really just about following instructions a lot of the time.
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