Is Asiago Cheese Vegetarian? Brands & Vegan

Is Asiago cheese vegetarian? There is some confusion about whether or not Asiago cheese is vegetarian. This is because the rennet used to make this type of cheese is derived from animals.

In this blog post, we’ll explain the rennets used in large industrial cheese-making today. We’ll also discuss whether or not brands of Asiago cheese are vegetarian or vegan-friendly.

The Rennet in Modern Asiago Making

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What is Rennet? Rennet is an enzyme that is used to coagulate milk and form curds during the cheesemaking process. The rennet used in Asiago cheese is derived from animals, usually calves.

This means that Asiago cheese is traditionally not vegetarian-friendly. In fact, most of the Italian asiago production, especially the PDO version, is using animal rennet – commonly known as liquid calf rennet. Sheep’s, lamb’s and kid’s rennet are also available.

However, there are some brands of Asiago cheese available that do not use animal-derived rennet or did not explicitly state that. These cheeses are made using microbial enzymes instead – Whether it’s for vegetarians, is debatable.

They often stated with “enzyme” or “chymosin” which accounts for over 90% of the rennet market.

One example is Stella Asiago:

Be sure to check the ingredients list before purchasing.

Asiago Brands for Vegetarians

If you are looking for an Asiago cheese that is vegetarian-friendly, there are not many brands that you can choose from. A few brands have been verified as using non-animal or vegetable rennet.

Some of these brands include Belgioioso’s Asiago Fresco™ and Asiago by The Cheese Guy.

Belgioioso has explicitly stated Asiago Fresco™ is one of their vegetarian cheese where it’s made with non-animal enzyme/rennet. So you can get yours at your nearest groceries.

The Cheese Guy’s Asiago is also vegetarian. The Cheese Guy partnered with dairy farms in the United States to produce all of their cheeses with plant-based rennet or non-animal microbial rennet.

However, some other brands such as Sartori and Boar’s Head do not make this clear on their websites if their Asiago cheese is made without animal rennet or not. So it might be best to contact the company before purchasing.

Vegan option?

There are not many options when it comes to vegan-friendly Asiago cheese. However, Vromage is one. It’s a cheese shop located in Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. Their product is seasonal and made with nuts and seeds, they ship vegan asiago too, you might want to drop by or contact them to see what they have.

Not fans of store-bought ones, there are vegan cheese recipes online that you can try.

The Takeaway

Asiago cheese is not traditional vegetarian-friendly because the rennet used to make it is derived from animals. However, some brands are making their Asiago cheeses with plant-based or non-animal enzymes, which makes them vegetarian-friendly.

Reference:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rennet
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