No. Authentic cheddar cheese is not vegetarian. It is made with cow milk, animal rennet, salt, and a bacteria culture. Vegetarians don’t consume meat but eat honey, eggs, dairy, and other animal byproducts. The presence of rennet makes cheddar cheese non-vegetarian.
Since vegans don’t consume milk or any ingredient coming from animals, cheddar cheese is non-vegan.
Cheddar Cheese Ingredients
Let’s study cheddar cheese ingredients and see what makes it unfit for vegetarians and vegans.
Milk: Vegetarians are okay with milk, but vegans don’t consume animal-based milk or milk products. Veganism is not about only one’s diet; it is a complete lifestyle based on justice for animals and a cruelty-free approach.
Rennet: Rennet is derived from young unweaned calf, goat, or sheep. The animals are killed to extract rennet. For vegans, it is a red line. However, some vegetarians consume rennet-based products because they believe that it is not meat. It comes down to your personal beliefs and how strictly you adhere to them.
Salt: Both vegans and vegetarians are 100% okay with salt.
Bacteria Culture: The bacteria are added to cow’s milk to acidify it. Bacteria don’t have a nervous system and don’t experience pain. Both vegans and vegetarians are okay with it.
So, animal rennet makes cheddar cheese non-vegetarian. However, the good news is that plenty of non-animal rennet cheeses are available.
Rennet Options for Vegetarians
Vegetable Rennet: Vegetable rennet is commercially available or can be made at home from ivy, dried caper leaves, fig juice, safflower, and wild thistles. Vegans can have things made from vegetable rennet if the end product is free from animal-derived products.
Microbial Rennet: It is made from bacteria, fungi, or yeast. Microbial rennet is cheaper but doesn’t taste too good and adds a certain taste/smell to the finished product.
Genetically Engineered Rennet: It tastes similar to animal rennet and is made by mixing animal rennet DNA with bacteria and yeast DNA.
How to check if the Cheddar Cheese is Vegetarian?
Authentic cheddar cheese from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset with the name “West Country Farmhouse Cheddar” is protected under EU and UK laws. Cheddar cheese cannot be made with this name anywhere other than the British counties of Somerset, Devon, Dorset, and Cornwall.
However, the word “cheddar” is not protected under any law. Most variations of cheddar cheese use “cheddar” on the product label. Here’s how you can check if your cheddar cheese is vegetarian.
- Check the ingredients.
- Look for vegetable-based enzymes, vegetable rennet, microbial enzymes, or non-animal enzymes.
- Look for vegetarian labels; brands making vegetarian cheddar cheese display labels to let customers know.
- Kosher cheeses are vegetarian as Jewish laws don’t allow mixing milk and meat.
- Always ask for ingredients when eating out. Many restaurants don’t use vegetarian cheese because it tastes different from the original variants.
Vegetarian Cheddar Cheese Brands
Vegetarians are in luck. Many brands make vegetarian cheddar cheese. The good news is that some of these brands also make vegan cheddar cheese. However, you must always check the ingredients/labels before buying.
- 365 (Whole Foods)
- Adam’s Reserve,
- Boars Head,
- Burnett Dairy,
- Dutch Farms
- Fit & Active (ALDI)
- Tillamook Dairy Co-Op,
- Taco Bell
- Trader Joe’s,
- Widmer Cheese Cellars
- Yancey’s Fancy
Vegetatio has developed an exhaustive list of vegetarian cheeses and brands. It lists up to 50 different cheese varieties and hundreds of brands that offer vegetarian variants.
What Cheeses are commonly Vegetarian?
Soft cheese varieties are rennet-free as they don’t require coagulation. Many kinds of cheese, such as fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese, ricotta, cream cheese, and paneer, are vegetarian. However, you must always check the ingredients before buying.
Is Mozzarella Cheese Vegetarian?
No. Authentic mozzarella cheese is not vegetarian. However, mozzarella made from non-animal rennet is vegetarian.
Is Grana Padano Vegetarian?
No. Grana Padano is not vegetarian because it is made with animal rennet.
Is Goat Cheese Vegetarian?
Goat cheese is vegetarian if it is made using non-animal rennet. There is more to it. French and traditional goat cheese is not vegetarian because it is made with animal rennet. However, British goat cheese verities are almost always vegetarian.
Many people also ask if goat cheese is vegan. No, goat cheese is not vegan, as it is made using goat milk. Vegans don’t eat anything made from animals.
Is Feta Cheese Vegetarian?
No. Feta cheese is not vegetarian. It is made using animal rennet.
Is Kraft Cheddar Cheese Vegetarian?
Yes. Kraft cheddar cheese is vegetarian. It doesn’t have any labels for being vegetarians. However, its ingredients mention that it contains microbial rennet. You can also check the ingredients from its official website.
Can Vegetarians eat Colman’s Cheddar Cheese Sauce?
No. It isn’t suitable for vegetarians as it contains cheddar cheese. The makers have not mentioned if the cheddar cheese used as an ingredient contains animal rennet or not.
Is American Cheddar Cheese Vegetarian?
It depends on the ingredients. Some American varieties are 100% vegetarian as they are made with non-animal rennet. Make sure you always check the ingredients before you buy cheddar cheese from a store.