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Quote:
Originally Posted by SotallyTober View Post

ETA: The only way to get animal based rennet is to slaughter/cut open a cow. People who claim vegetarianism but still eat animal based rennet are kidding themselves. They're more like convenience vegetarians.
That's too harsh, I think. Not everyone cares about trace ingredients or researching every detail of how their food is produced, especially if they are vegetarian for health or environmental reasons. It doesn't mean they're "kidding themselves" - they're just drawing their own line about how much to stress over identifying and avoiding small quantities of animal products. Other examples include worrying about whether the food was prepared with utensils that are used for meat, or whether harvesting processes cause some animal matter to be incorporated in the product.

For many vegetarians, their dietary choice is not about perfectionism, but just about making an overall positive effect. If perfect meticulousness is a requirement for vegetarianism, then there are probably no "true" vegetarians - because there is no end to things you can research to identify minute quantities of animal matter in food.
 

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A couple points of information:

Skylark, the "enzymes" and "rennet" listed on inexpensive grocery store cheeses in the US is mostly microbial rennet - it does not come from animals. Animal rennet is the norm, however, for more expensive "old world" or "artisan" cheeses like parmigiano, romano, feta, gouda, jahlrsberg, etc.

This is also the answer to SotallyTober's question - some very tasty cheeses are not available except with animal rennet. That's why there is a market for them.

IamJen - it's a little different from the bone char thing, because the rennet does end up in the final product, in small quantities.

At one point, I tried to figure out what the ratio was; what I came up with is that one calf's stomach produces enough rennet for a ton of cheese or more. So if you are interested in the overall impact of your choices on animals, I think the big issue would be whether to eat dairy at all, not to worry about the (in comparison) very small impact of whether animal rennet is used or not.

Of course, we're each entitled to set our own boundaries and priorities. For someone who draws the line at eating anything that came from the body of a dead animal, cheeses with animal rennet will be over the line and those without will not be.
 
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