Rennet is an enzyme traditionally used in the cheese-making process. While some cheeses can be made without the addition of animal-based rennet, others use plant-based forms of the product. Vegetarians who are interested in finding a "true" vegetarian cheese should consider the options listed below.
Cheese without Rennet
Rice University identifies the following brands of cheese as being rennet-free:
In Nutrition Therapy and Pathophysiology, (page 293) Marcia Nelms, Kathryn Sucher, and Sara Long note cottage cheese is traditionally made without the addition of rennet. All brands of cottage cheese, then -- including Kraft and Horizon Organic -- are safe choices for those looking for rennet-free cheese.
- Stella: Stella mozzarella features a soft texture that is designed for making homemade pizzas or tasty panini, notes DCI Cheese Company.
- Frigo: According to Serious Eats, this cheese offers perfect combination of saltiness and tanginess.
- Kraft Grated: Use this cheese as a topping for pasta, pizza, salad, and casseroles.
- Stella: This grated parmesan is perfect for use when making lasagna or other pasta dishes, notes a reviewer on Influenster.
Cheese with Non-Animal Rennet
According to Joyous Living, the following brands of cheese are made with vegetarian forms of rennet:
- Cabot: According to a taste test conducted by the Huffington Post, this cheddar cheese came out on top.
- Great Midwest: This cheddar lends itself greatly to cooking, notes the Evansville Courier Press.
- Kerrygold: This grass-fed cheese features a full-bodied flavor with a smooth finish, notes Kerrygold.
- Organic Valley: Their cheddar is aged for 300 days to build a stronger, tangy flavor, reports Organic Valley.
- Vella Cheese: The Daisy cheddar has a mild flavor that will please children and keep adults interested, reports Janet Fletcher of the San Fransisco Chronicle on VellaCheese.com.
- Crystal Farms: This is quite salty compared to other brands of colby cheese, notes Rusty Bee.
- Widmer's Cheese Cellars: This colby won first prize in the 2010 American Cheese Society Judging and Competition Awards.
- Cedar Grove Cheese: This is a cheese made from milk that is turned by hand and treated with love.
- Capri: It features both sheep's and goat's milk for an extra-creamy texture, reports Capri Cheese.
- Karoun Dairies: This feta is rich and good, without being pungent, notes 80 MPH Mom.
- Vermont Creamery: According to the Vermont Creamery, this feta cheese is low in salt, making it a good choice for the health-conscious.
- Fancy Brand: This mozzarella offers a milky flavor and creamy texture, notes Fancy Brand Cheese.
- Boar's Head: According to PizzaMaking, Boar's Head Mozzarella offers a creamy texture and holds up well to being cooked.
- Brewster Cheese: According to Brewster Dairy, their Swiss cheese has a sweet, nutty, mellow flavor.
- Dutch Farms: It melts beautifully, notes Dutch Farms, making it a great addition to casseroles.
- Graham Farms Cheese: This cheese offers a creamy texture with a mild, nutty tang.
- Joseph Farms: With its slightly sweet flavor, it is a great addition to fruit or hors d'oeuvres, reports Joseph Farms.
- Bass Lake Cheese Factory: This cheese provides a rich flavor and complex texture, reports Bass Lake Cheese Factory.
- Lifetime Cheese: It melts perfectly, and can be used in a variety of sauces or casseroles.
- Frigo: This is a cheese perfect for dinners that call for freshly grated parmesan, reports Consumr.
- Sargento: According to InnerChef, this cheese melts well and enhances the flavor of any dish.
- Treasure Cave: It has a nutty, full flavor that will compliment any soup, salad, or pasta dish, notes Grande Cheese.
- Applegate Farms: This cheese is bland, plasticky, and chewy, notes Cook's Illustrated.
- Leprino: It provides a mild, milky flavor and pleasant, smooth texture.
- Bel Gioioso: It's a ricotta that offers a pleasant, creamy flavor with just a hint of salt, reports Bel Gioioso.
- Dragone: This ricotta has a neutral, semi-sweet flavor and a slightly granular texture, notes Dragone Cheese.
While cheese is often considered to be an acceptable choice for lacto-vegetarians, this is not necessarily true. In fact, many brands of cheese contain animal by-products, such as rennet. To ensure you are truly following a vegetarian diet, consider cheeses that have been made without the addition of this product.