Is Cheddar Cheese Vegetarian?

There are a lot of questions about whether or not cheddar cheese is vegetarian. The answer, unfortunately, is not always straightforward.

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Many people assume that all cheddar cheese is vegetarian, but this is not always the case.

Some brands of cheddar cheese use animal rennet in their production process, which means that the cheese is not technically vegetarian.

In this blog post, we will explore the question of cheddar cheese and vegetarianism in more detail and help you to understand what to look for when buying this popular cheese or related cheese product.

Why Is Cheddar Cheese Vegetarian?

Cheddar cheese is a type of cheese that has a range of different textures and flavors, depending on how it is made and aged. It is typically made from cow’s milk, salt, cultures, and rennet.

The key ingredient to determine whether cheddar is vegetarian is rennet. It is an enzyme that helps to coagulate the milk and turn it into cheese by separating the solid part (curd) from the liquid part (whey).

So, is cheddar cheese vegetarian? It depends on the rennet used. That’s where things get complicated.

Rennet can be derived from animal, plant, or microbial sources. Animal rennet is typically made from the stomach lining of ruminant animals such as young calves, while plant rennet is usually made from things like thistle or algae. Microbial rennet is made from certain molds.

If it’s using plant or vegetable rennet, it is definitely vegetarian.

However, these are often produced inconsistent yield, unpleasant flavor, or low availability. Therefore, enzymes are often preferred for about 90% of industrial cheese making.

Enzymes can be extracted from genetically modified microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, and yeasts. So, it can be viewed as microbial-derived modified rennet. There you can see the ingredients labeled with “microbial rennet” or “enzymes”.

FDA does not require to specify the rennet source.

In fact, the enzyme called chymosin (fermentation-produced chymosin or FPC) is made from animal cells, but not the animal itself. They refer to them as “acceptable to vegetarians”, and also used “non-GMO” to describe the products.

Microbial rennet may be considered vegetarian by some, read more.

So, what does this mean for you?

The bottom line is that if you are a strict vegetarian, you should avoid cheddar cheese made with animal or even microbial rennet. Opt for vegetable rennet and plant enzymes.

The Brands That Are Vegetarian

Now let’s take a look at some brands of cheddar cheese that are definitely vegetarian.

Here are brands of cheddar cheese that specified to use vegetable rennet or plant enzymes in their production process:

The latest data according to the USDA FoodData Central. Brands and products varieties change over time, so make sure to check the ingredients list before purchasing cheddar cheese or any other cheese product.

These are only a few examples of vegetarian cheddar cheese, but there are many more out there that may be considered vegetarian, such as Kraft and Cabot, where they use “enzymes”.

Without Rennet or Enzyme

If you would like to completely opt-out of rennet or milk for peace of mind, try the Violife vegan cheddar. It’s made of potato & corn starch and coconut oil.


Are Cheddar Goldfish Vegetarian?

Cheddar Goldfish are a popular snack made by Pepperidge Farm. They are small crackers in the shape of fish that are coated in a cheesy flavor.

So, are Cheddar Goldfish vegetarian? The answer is yes! According to the Pepperidge Farm website, all of their Goldfish varieties are made with cheddar cheese which is made of “enzymes”. So, it falls under the “may consider vegetarian” and “acceptable by vegetarian” category.

Are Cheddar Bay Biscuits Vegetarian?

Red Lobster is a popular seafood restaurant chain in the United States. They are known for their delicious cheddar bay biscuits that come with every meal.

So, are cheddar bay biscuits vegetarian? The answer is likely yes as they use the regular cheddar made with enzymes.


  1. Wikipedia – Rennet
  2. Microbial Rennet – The Spruce Eat
  3. USDA – Cheddar
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