Cheese! By WordRiddenSalem Weekly recently ran an article entitled My 30 days as a vegetarian by Shawn Estes. Our cheese buyer, Michelle A. posted the folowing comment in response to the article and I thought it might be useful to our customers reprint the comment here:

Thanks for a terrific article on discovering the joys of the veggie life.  There are many reasons why individuals decide to become vegetarians, ranging from the ethical to environmental to religious or just wanting to live a healthier life and get creative with their food.  I have just one small concern, though.

As the Cheese Buyer for LifeSource Natural Foods, I have had to clarify some confusion among a few customers (and staff) regarding the comment which states that cheese “contains the stomach tissues of a slaughtered cow.”  Rennet, which is used to to coagulate and break down the milk into curds and whey, is sometimes made from the digestive ENZYMES derived from the lining of the inside of a calves stomach, not the actual stomach “tissue.”  Even though only very tiny amounts of the enzymes are used to produce cheese, yes, the calf does die to provide them (it’s a by-product of veal production) so ethically motivated vegetarians should not eat this type of cheese.

However, there are vegetarian sources of rennet and approximately 80% of the cheeses made in the United States are produced using vegetable rennet for one simple reason: cost effectiveness.  Animal rennet is expensive.  Even European cheese producers which have long shunned the use of vegetable rennet for quality reasons are now turning, more and more, to the more cost effective vegetarian rennets.

At LifeSource we carry a wide selection of cheeses that are produced with vegetarian rennet including selections from Greenbank, Landmark, Organic Valley and Willamette Valley Cheese. Vegans will still abstain because they are made from milk, but lacto-vegetarians can rest assured that no animal has died to produce their favorite cheese.  Like other dairy products at our store, all cheese is guaranteed to be free of hormones and anything artifical, including preservatives, colorings or flavorings.  Many of them are made from organic milk.  For the vegans, we do have a selection of vegan “cheeses” which are made without the use of any animal products, including the milk protein casein.

I’m easy to find at the store and would be glad to answer any question or concern regarding our wonderful selection of cheeses.  Give us a call, or better yet, stop by and say Hi!

photo by: WordRidden