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I found this in the Chicago Reader archives. Any thoughts?<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
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Is rennet, a cheese ingredient, made from calves' stomachs?<br><br>
08-May-2000<br><br><br><br><br><br>
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Dear Straight Dope:<br><br><br><br>
As you were able to alleviate my friend Jennifer's ignorance regarding baby-naming laws, I thought you might be able to help me with another question about infant mammals. Is it true that adorable and harmless calves are killed to get the rennet needed to make cheese? I've always abstained from eating veal because it felt sort of wrong to eat a baby anything. Should I now give up cheesecake, pizza, and Kraft singles on this principle? Please help me with this moral dilemma! --Jessica, Glenville, NY<br><br><br><br>
SDSTAFF Jill replies:<br><br><br><br>
My co-worker Joanne used to be an ovo-lacto vegetarian--she consumed eggs and dairy products but not meat--until one day while driving past a dairy on the way to work, she came to the conclusion that being a meat cow wasn't as bad as it gets. At least they didn't have to live as long in such appalling conditions as dairy cows and chickens do. Now she's a "vegan" vegetarian, which means she's no fun to go out to lunch with. "Enchiladas, hold the cheese"? Puh-leeze. But I see her point.<br><br><br><br>
The cheesemaking process varies some with the type of cheese, but all basically use the same method. Milk is heated (pasteurized) to destroy harmful bacteria, then cooled and a starter culture of bacteria that produces lactic acid is added to start the coagulation process. Next, for most types of cheese, rennet is added to speed the coagulation and separate the milk into solid curds and liquid whey. The whey is drained off, the curd is heated and/or pressed and it's molded and shaped into a cheese. Some are then "matured" or aged.<br><br><br><br>
Rennet contains an enzyme called chymosin that is traditionally obtained from the "abomasum" (fourth stomach) of a newborn calf or lamb. Adult mammals don't have this enzyme--newborn calves and lambs need it to help digest and absorb milk. Almost all European cheeses still use animal rennet. Vegetarian rennet has been obtained from fig leaves, melon, safflower and wild thistle, but most commercially available non-animal rennet is now produced in laboratories from fungal or bacterial sources (not sure if they use baby fungi and bacteria or not), and works like the animal-based product.<br><br><br><br>
Genetic engineering techniques are also now used to extract the DNA which encodes for chymosin from calf stomach cells, introducing it into a micro-organism which grows the chymosin in commercial quantities. This product is identical to that produced by newborn calves and, according to the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom (<a href="http://www.vegsoc.org/info/cheese.html" target="_blank">http://www.vegsoc.org/info/cheese.html</a>), "Its manufacturers say that genetically engineered chymosin will end the cheese making industry's reliance on the slaughter of calves." Of course there are those who are opposed to genetic engineering of any kind, so they'll want to stick with the non-animal based rennet.<br><br><br><br>
If you're lucky enough to live near a "Trader Joe's" store, you will find cheeses categorized into three rennet categories: animal, vegetable, and microbial. See <a href="http://www.traderjoes." target="_blank">http://www.traderjoes.</a> com/tj/products/brochures/rennet_west.stm<br><br><br><br>
I know your heart goes out to baby calves, but one thing can be said for the cattle industry. Very little of the slaughtered animal goes to waste. A pet store in my town has a bin full of "bull chews" you can buy for your dog. I'm not sure how many customers realize they're purchasing dried bull penises.<br><br><br><br>
--SDSTAFF Jill<br><br>
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
 

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that is exactly what i've read about rennet before. a lot of vegetarians i know are shocked to find out about how their cheese is made. my mom certainly was.
 

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I was also shocked to learn about rennet; it made me feel like I'd never been vegetarian in the first place. I'd never heard of it until I was doing research about becoming a vegan. The discovery definitely increased my desire to do so!
 

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I am lucky where I live in that the supermarket close to me has dozens and dozens of rennet-free and non-animal rennet cheeses. My parents never buy rennety cheese either, so whenever I go to their house I know I am safe too.
 

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I don't understand. Like when you eat cheese without rennet, you don't contribute to the slaughter of calves??? That's incredibly naive. Or are we having a double standard here - are the calves that are killed because of the rennet different from those countless ones that are killed because of the milk?<br><br><br><br>
Milk is evil stuff through and through.
 

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I don't think Kiz ever stated her reasons for being vegetarian (health, animal rights, etc) so avoiding rennet which is an animal product and eating rennet-free cheese is completely within the realms of lacto-ovo vegetarianism.<br><br><br><br>
Not everyone is veg*n because of animal rights and we shouldn't assume they are. And I think we've said a thousand times before that veg*nism is a very personal thing for everyone, sometimes a path or journey but not always. Please don't attack people for the way they choose to be veg*n. This is a place where everyone should feel welcome. (It is Veggie Boards, and not just Vegan Boards, right?)
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/shocked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":eek:"> Where did I attack anyone? <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/shocked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":eek:"><br><br><br><br>
In the posted article it says:<br><br><br><br><b><i>Is it true that adorable and harmless calves are killed to get the rennet needed to make cheese? I've always abstained from eating veal because it felt sort of wrong to eat a baby anything.</i></b><br><br><br><br>
To think that the same thing (calves getting killed) does not happen on a massive scale when eating rennet free cheese is an incredibly naive opinion. A lot of calves get killed for the cheese itself, regardless of where the rennet comes from. That was and is still my point.<br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Yay, Oatmeal. I have nothing to add. (So, why am I posting, then? Oh, yeah; to pat Oatmeal on the back.)
 

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No probs at all! I should have quoted the passage the first time to avoid confusion, sorry! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br><br><br>
p.s. LOL epski, thanks! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D">
 

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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/bigcry.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":cry:"> Eeeeeewwwww.<br><br><br><br>
I'm all wiggin' out about cheese now.<br><br><br><br>
I think I'll have a <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/beer.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":beer:"> to make myself feel better. Here's a vegan beer list that I found online (there are some good ones in there):<br><br><a href="http://sbvdesigns.com/veg/veganbeer.html" target="_blank">http://sbvdesigns.com/veg/veganbeer.html</a>
 

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My vegetarian friend (4 months in) is thinking about going vegan due to a combo of the rennet issue and a very moving pro-veg ad that we saw on TV. She said she just can't feel OK about milk and cheese anymore. I can relate!
 

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ooooooooooohhhhhhhhh..... I really want to give up cheese. I buy rennet free Bothwell cheese, but still, I think about all the horrible things the cows go thru just to give us cheese.<br><br><br><br>
I had no problem giving up meat, but I think I will need some really good cheese alternatives to give this up. I don't eat very much dairy or eggs, but cheese is a really hard thing to give up. I mean, after a night of beer drinking, there is NOTHING better than a hot greasy cheesy pizza!!<br><br><br><br>
is there anyone who really loved cheese and managed to give it up? how did you do it?
 

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Pizza is one of my only sources of cheese. It's hard to find non-cheese slices in my neighborhood, and you can't really ask the guy to scrape the cheese off...But yeah, after a few drinks with friends, late night pizza is the best!!<br><br><br><br>
I can do without milk (and have for years now) and any other kind of cheese, but pizza with cheese is the big hurdle that I'm not sure I can jump over....that's the killer. I wish there was a late night falafel place in my neighborhood. I live in friggin' New York City, seems like I could find a falafel place where I live.
 

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Pizza is the only time you'll catch me eating cheese. And then, it has to be mozzarella cheese. I absolutely hate other cheeses when they end up on pizzas.<br><br><br><br>
Anyhow, the local domino's around here stresses that their cheese used "vegetable rennet" so I guess i'm OK.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by superjane</i><br><br><b>is there anyone who really loved cheese and managed to give it up? how did you do it?</b></div>
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yep. that's me. i was a veritable "dairy queen", back in the day. i used to get expensive cheeses as birthday and xmas presents!!! everyone i knew couldn't believe it when i said i was giving up cheese and butter and cream. they gave me a week, tops. i'm not going to lie, it was hard, but i did it cold tofu and i used a lot of the same kinds of strategies that addicts use when kicking smokes, alcohol or drugs. mainly, take it one day at a time, and feel proud of myself for every moment that i don't eat dairy.<br><br><br><br>
over the course of that first year, i stayed completely away from all mock-cheeses, etc. i made white sauces out of soy milk and used avacado on my sandwiches and burgers. eventually i felt less tempted. though i have to admit, even five years later, i still miss it sometimes.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>originally posted by superjane</i><br><br><b>is there anyone who really loved cheese and managed to give it up? how did you do it?</b></div>
</div>
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I'm with Kreeli, I was a cheese NUT. Probably my favorite of all foods. I loved every single kind except for the crappy stuff like Velveeta or American. I ate mountains of it. Giving up meat was a positive cinch compared to giving up cheese. (Not only because of my taste for it, but also because eating out as an ovo-lacto was quite easy.) Cheese was the reason that my initial attempt at going vegan failed.<br><br><br><br>
I also gave it up "cold tofu," the second time. But I told myself that it was temporary, an experiment. When I realized I'd gone a month without it, then it just fell into my original vegetarian philosophy: "I <i>can</i> live without it, therefore I <i>will</i> live without it." I do continue to miss cheese, and probably always will. In the very, very back of my mind I'm <i>still</i> "just doing a vegan experiment; I could go back." I give myself that permission, but when it comes down to it I don't want to act on it. And my happiness about not eating dairy is reinforced all the time. Like when I saw that great pro-veg ad (I wrote about it under "Animal Rights and Welfare").<br><br><br><br>
The other thing I did to "make up" for cheese was to start eating lots of spicy, highly-seasoned foods. As I mentioned in "The Switch" thread, I went nuts buying every single yummy vegan thing I could find, so I could focus on what I <i>could</i> eat, <i>not</i> on what I "couldn't."
 

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I was a cheese-a-holic for a long time. It was the one thing keeping me from going vegan for years. Then I began reading about the dairy industry, and the health implications, and the thought of cheese repulsed me. I really don't miss it at all. Perhaps knowing that after a few years, your body becomes lactose intollerant (for good reason!), and it would probably make me really sick.
 
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