Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Milk products, Vegetarianism, and Veganism

About cheese and milk products....I have been a vegetarian for many years. I had also stopped eating cheese a long time ago, not only because it is not good for the  health, but also because most cheese, I would say 85%, is absolutely not vegetarian because it is made with rennet (Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in stomachs of ruminant mammals, meaning the traditional source of rennet comes from the stomach of slaughtered newly-born calves. ….bleh….). There are, however, cheeses made with non-animal rennet. 
Vegetarian cheeses are manufactured using rennet from either fungal/bacterial sources (microbial), genetically modified micro-organisms, or, as in the tasty Indian paneer, lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids are used. 
When I first started seeing vegetarian cheeses on the market here in Europe, I was thrilled. I am not that much of a cheese-eater anymore, but at least I knew that if I wanted to have some cheese or use it in the dish I was cooking, I could do so knowing that I wasn’t responsible for the slaughtering of a newly-born calf. Or so I thought….


One day during an Upanishads​ class in Rishikesh​ at the Omkarananda Patanjala Yoga Kendra​, the subject of the consumption of milk and cheese came up. Our teacher, Br. Siddhartha Krishna​, said something that really struck a cord. He said that when he is India, sometimes, he eats cheese and/or some milk products however he would never eat milk products outside of India, especially in western countries because, even though you can find cheeses made with non-animal rennet and by drinking cow milk, you are not directly hurting the cow, in the end, those animals will get slaughtered and probably eaten.  
Needless to say, I am now a vegan when I am in Europe or in the United States. 
Just something to think about….


(If you go to Rishikesh and you want to have a great, REAL, and 100% vegetarian pizza, go to A Tavola Con Te​. The mozzarella is made in India, so no harm done to the cow, and it’s really good. The owners are a couple from my adopted city, Milan. I lived in Italy for 25 years, I have an Italian passport, I still work in Italy….I know good pizza :-))