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Horrified foodies claim they will never eat Parmesan cheese again after finding out how it’s made: ‘I think I am going to be sick’
- Parmesan cheese is made using animal rennet
- The substance is found in the stomach of young mammals
- The use of rennet makes the cheese not vegetarian-friendly
Foodies have been left horrified after finding out exactly how Parmesan cheese is made – with many swearing to never eat it again.
In a viral outburst, one woman declared her shock at the discovery the popular cheese contains a substance from a calf’s stomach.
‘Today years old when I found out Parmesan cheese is made from baby cow’s stomach and I could go cry. I’m just gonna have to go full vegan at this point,’ she said in a tweet.
The substance known as animal rennet is an essential ingredient in traditional Parmesan, a fact that sent many vegetarians especially into a spin.
Rennet is an enzyme found in the lining of mammal stomachs, typically young cows, sheep or goats, that helps them digest their mother’s milk.
Vegetarian foodies are sharing their shock at the ‘horrifying’ discovery that Parmesan cheese is made using rennet, a substance found in a baby cow’s stomach
The animals have to be killed for cheesemakers to extract the substance making anything with the ingredient not suitable for vegetarians.
‘Wow I had never heard that! Dairy is scary for real,’ someone responded.
‘Horrifying! Why are we eating baby anything as a species?’ asked a second.
What is rennet?
Rennet is usually taken from the fourth stomach of a relatively young grazing animal like calves, goats, or lambs.
That stomach is prized for its concentration of an enzyme called chymosin, which gradually loses its potency over time as grass replaces milk in that animal’s diet.
Traditionally, getting that rennet has meant slicing the stomachs of young calves into little pieces dropped into salt water or whey, with something acidic like wine or vinegar used to help draw out the enzymes.
Once that solution’s filtered out, it can coagulate a significantly larger quantity of milk.
More modern methods use a bit of more precise chemistry to yield more potent rennet, but a calf’s stomach is still involved.
Source: All Recipes
‘I did not know. This makes me very sad. I like Parmesan but don’t think I can ever eat it again,’ a third admitted.
One user replied saying, while the fact is common knowledge for many, she often sees dishes with Parmesan offered to vegetarians at restaurants.
‘You’re not alone – I still see ‘eggplant Parmesan’ as a ‘vegetarian’ option at restaurants or as suggested recipes in ‘vegetarian’ articles,’ she wrote.
‘It’s one of the few cheeses that is still made that way,’ another pointed out while a third said: ‘Most hard cheese is made with rennet’.
Other cheeses traditionally made with the animal product include Gorgonzola, Pecorino Romano, Camembert, Gruyère, and Manchego.
However vegetarians need not despair yet as some explained cheese producers have started using animal-friendly rennet.
‘Rennet doesn’t have to be from animal sources, there are vegetarian variants that work the same. That but it’s true that you’ll have to check for this to be able to say it’s actually vegetarian,’ one person wrote.
‘Most rennet today uses genetically-engineered yeast and bacteria in its production, rather than calf stomachs. There are obviously still some products that use calf stomachs (as a matter of tradition), but most mass-produced cheese uses GMO rennet,’ another agreed.
‘This process is outdated and not used anymore because of mass manufacturing (as far as I know)! You are safe to eat your parm!’ a third said.
Can Parmesan cheese ever be suitable for vegetarians?
Traditional Parmesan is referred to as Parmigiano-Reggiano, a highly regulated cheese made in Italy under strict guidelines.
A hard-aged cheese made from cow’s milk, it’s made using an ingredient that may be foreign to non-cheesemakers: calf rennet.
The use of rennet is essential to the production of traditional Parmigiano Reggiano.
Parmesan cheese is a close cousin of Parmigiano Reggiano that can be made elsewhere without stringent regulations; it may or may not contain calf rennet.
Other cheeses in the larger Parmesan family can be made with vegetarian rennet (also called microbial or plant-based rennet) that is not derived from animals.
Clues that a cheese is vegetarian can be found on food labels that clearly indicate the product is animal-free.
In the absence of such transparency, you can look for ‘microbial rennet’ on the ingredient list, or stick with Kosher products, which religiously use vegetarian rennet.