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 :-))