No. Authentic parmesan cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegan-friendly. It contains animal rennet, obtained from the stomach of young grazing animals like calves, goats, and sheep. It is used to thicken the milk. Vegetarians consume milk, dairy products, eggs, honey, or byproducts that don’t involve animal slaughtering. The use of animal rennet makes parmesan cheese unfit for vegetarians.
On the contrary, vegetarians can consume parmesan cheese if made with non-animal rennet. Many brands now make vegetarian-friendly parmesan cheese without animal rennet. Non-animal rennet is of three types; vegetable rennet (made from nettles, thistles, or figs), microbial (using bacteria, fungus, or molds), and genetically engineered rennet. The third type is made by mixing animal rennet DNA with bacterial DNA.
Why is Parmesan Cheese Not Vegan-Friendly?
Parmesan cheese and other hard cheese varieties like Grana Padano are usually made from four ingredients. These ingredients are listed below.
- Milk: Vegetarians consume animal milk, but vegans don’t. So, parmesan cheese is a big no for vegans.
- Rennet: As already explained, rennet is obtained from an animal’s stomach. Vegans and vegetarians will not consume anything made from animal-rennet.
- Salt: It is okay for both vegans and vegetarians.
- Hen egg lysozyme: Vegetarians can eat, but vegans will not consume anything from animals.
What is the difference between Parmesan Cheese and Parmigiano Reggiano?
For a cheese to be classified as “Parmigiano Reggiano,” it must come from a certain region of Italy and contain only approved ingredients. It is aged at least 1-3 years before being sold. However, the same rule doesn’t apply to parmesan cheese. Other brands can use this name legally and sell the cheese with different variations. This is why you will see vegan cheese sold as vegan parmesan but not as vegan Parmigiano Reggiano.
What kind of Cheese can Vegetarians eat?
Vegetarians can eat all types of cheeses that are free from animal rennet. All the other ingredients in cheese are typically vegetarian. However, you must always check the ingredients on the packaging to ensure that it doesn’t contain anything non-vegetarian.
What kind of Cheese can Vegans eat?
Vegans can eat cheese free from animal byproducts such as milk, fat, cream, and rennet. They usually consume soft cheeses (paneer and cottage) made from plant-based ingredients such as soybeans, cashews, almonds, or coconut. Don’t forget to check the labels and ingredients on the packaging and search for a particular brand online to see if it is vegan.
What brands of Parmesan Cheese are Vegetarian? Parmesan Cheese Vegan Alternatives
PETA has listed several brands that produce 100% certified vegan cheese. All of these brands produce tasty and delicious cheeses that are fit for vegans and vegetarians.
Important Note: These brands may change their ingredients. You must check the labels and ingredients even if you have been using a brand for quite some time. Brands adjust their product lines based on demand and ingredient availability.
Navigate to the bottom of this page to see a quick and tasty recipe to make vegan-friendly parmesan cheese.
Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan
Shredded: Dairy-free vegan parmesan is the perfect cheese for all vegans. The shredded cheese is best for making pizza, fresh pasta, and roasted veggies. You can read more about it here.
Grated: The brand also sells grated variant for its vegan cheese lovers.
GO VEGGIE Vegan Cheese
You can have a vegan parmesan grated topping or a soy-free variant. It is dairy-free, gluten-free, and rennet-free. You can read more about it here.
Parma! Vegan Parmesan
Parma! vegan parmesan offers four flavors. Get ready to treat your taste buds with this delicious, juicy, 100% vegan parmesan.
Violife Vegan Parmesan
Vilofie Vegan Parmesan is another excellent alternative to non-vegan parmesan. It is free from dairy, gluten, soy, lactose, nuts, and preservatives. Click here to check its ingredients and nutritional facts.
BelGioioso Parmesan Cheese
It is an excellent vegetarian-friendly cheese. You can enjoy this cheese with apples, dried figs, grapes, walnuts, and many other recipes.
Its cheese is made with vegetable rennet, but it is not dairy-free. Vegetarians can have it, but vegans cant. The cheese has a nutty flavor and tastes like traditional parmesan.
Sainsbury’s Vegetarian Parmesan Cheese
They also make tasty and creamy vegetarian parmesan. Make sure you check the “V” label before buying their cheese.
Here is another list of vegetarian cheeses and brands. This is an exhaustive list, you can check to see if your favorite cheese or brand is vegetarians or not.
Is Kraft Parmesan and Grated Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?
Yes. Kraft Parmesan and Grated Parmesan cheese are vegetarian and are made with microbial rennet. However, you must check the ingredients and labels before buying them, as some varieties may contain lipase, an animal-derived ingredient.
Is Kroger Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?
Yes. It is 100% vegetarian and made with microbial rennet. However, don’t forget to check the packaging for a definitive list of ingredients.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese Recipe
- Kitchen Scale (optional)
- 100 grams (1 cup) almond flour or ground almonds (100grams (¾ cups) raw almonds without skin crushed to a flour-like consistency)
- 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt (nottable salt)
- 20 grams (¼cup ) nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil (optional)
- Add all the ingredients to a blender and grind until the contents take the shape of grainy dough with uniform consistency. The mixture must hold together when you squeeze it.
- Remove the contents from the blender and place them over parchment paper or a clean counter.
- Shape the mixture into a wheel approximately 4 inches in diameter and 1 inch in length.
- Wet a finger to squeeze any cracks on your cheese wheel.
- Place the wheel on parchment paper and refrigerate it. Make sure you don’t cover it, so it dries out quickly. Keep it in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- You can also keep it in the freezer section for 30-45 minutes if you are short on time.
- Transfer it to an airtight container once the cheese is solid. You can store it in the fridge for 2-3 weeks and in the freezer for 3 months.
- Make sure the cheese is frozen before grating.
- You can use a kitchen scale to be 100% precise. However, cup measurements are good for this recipe.
- You will need to soak almonds for 3-4 hours at room temperature, overnight in the fridge, and for 10-15 minutes in boiling water to remove the skin. Make sure you drain the water before using them in the recipe.
- You can also use cashews, walnuts, or other nuts instead of almonds.
- The sugar you see in nutritional facts is natural and unrefined; 100% vegan.
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 1g
- Protein: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Sugar: 1g
- Fiber: 2g
- Sodium: 515mg
- Potassium: 56mg
- Calcium: 28mg
- Iron: 1mg
- Vitamin A: 2IU
- Vitamin C: 1mg