Last Updated on June 5, 2023 by Aaron
Asiago cheese, a popular Italian cheese known for its rich flavor and versatile use in many dishes, has been a topic of interest among vegetarians.
The question arises – is Asiago cheese vegetarian? To answer this, we need to delve into the production process of Asiago cheese and understand what constitutes a vegetarian diet.
But first, what does it mean to be vegetarian?
According to The Vegan Society, a vegetarian diet excludes all forms of animal-derived products. This includes meat, fish, shellfish, insects, dairy, eggs, and honey. The primary reason for this exclusion is to avoid exploitation and cruelty towards animals.
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Why is Asiago Cheese Not Vegetarian?
Asiago cheese is a cow’s milk cheese, first produced in the homonymous town in Italy. It can assume different textures according to its aging, from smooth for the fresh Asiago (Asiago Pressato) to a crumbly texture for the aged cheese (Asiago d’allevo).
The production of Asiago cheese involves the use of rennet, an enzyme traditionally sourced from the stomach lining of calves. This is where the conflict with vegetarianism arises.
The Vegetarian Dilemma
Rennet is an essential ingredient in the cheese-making process, as it helps separate the milk into solid curds and liquid whey.
However, the traditional source of rennet, the stomach lining of calves, is an animal product. This makes Asiago cheese, and many other types of cheese, non-vegetarian by the strictest definition.
However, it’s important to note that there are vegetarian-friendly alternatives to traditional animal rennet. These include microbial rennets or genetically engineered rennets, which are derived from bacteria, mold, plant, or yeast. Particularly, chymosin (or Fermentation-produced chymosin, FPC) or usually labeled as “enzyme” is
Some Asiago cheese may be made using these vegetarian rennets, but this is not the norm.
Unfortunately, food labeling laws do not always require processing agents like rennet to be listed, making it difficult for vegetarians to know whether a cheese is suitable for them or not[^2^]. Therefore, if you’re a vegetarian and considering eating Asiago cheese, it’s best to contact the manufacturer to confirm whether they use animal or vegetarian rennet in their cheese-making process.
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
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 implies that Asiago cheese is traditionally not suitable for vegetarians. 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.
See the Asiago cheese by Stella brand below:
Therefore, 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/stated of 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 that Asiago Fresco™ (one of their vegetarian cheese) is 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.
There are not many options when it comes to vegan-friendly Asiago cheese. However, Vromage is one of the few. 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 across the country too, you might want to drop by or contact them to see what they have to offer.
Not fans of store-bought ones, there are vegan cheese recipes online that you can try.
Asiago cheese is not traditionally 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.