During the cheese making process, rennet is used to separate milk into solid curds and liquid whey. The most common form of rennet traditionally used in cheesemaking is animal rennet, which comes from the lining of the fourth stomach of a young ruminant – generally a calf.
Because it's obtained after slaughtering the animal, it's not considered vegetarian.
For a cheese to be considered 'Vegetarian' then a vegetarian rennet is used in the cheese making process.
Vegetarian rennets are either vegetable-based (made from plants such as figs, nettles and thistles), microbial (produced using moulds and fungi sources) or made using genetically modified rennet.
Many traditional cheeses that are classed as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheeses such as Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, authentic Mozzarella, must use animal rennet as that is what is stated in their traditional method of production and how they retain their protected status.
Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, or AOC, is a French food labeling term that protects the style, ingredients, and origin of a product. Comté AOC certified cheese must use animal rennet in its production.
We have listed cheeses that we know to use vegetarian rennet in the cheese making process as 'Vegetarian' is this is important for you.