Vegetarianism (different from vegans) is a meat abstention practice which gained popularity in the west since 7th century BCE until today.
Other than animal flesh, a part of the vegetarian diet also include refusal of animal products. As for dairy products (such as milk and cheese), it depends on how it’s being made.
Let me explain.
The animal-derived rennet used in the making of traditional cheese, by definition, shouldn’t be consumed by vegetarians.
So back to the question, is gorgonzola for vegetarians?
In the case of gorgonzola, The original making of gorgonzola PDO does unfortunately include the use of animal rennet, so it is not a cheese for vegetarians.
But, most of the dairy farms today were actually using the cheaper and more widely accessible microbial rennet to replace the animal rennet, so some of the gorgonzola brands are totally okay for vegetarians.
In case you looking for dairy-free substitutes, there you go…
The flipped side, can we still call them the real original gorgonzola? Probably not, but vegetarians will be able to enjoy this century-old cheese without an issue.
It’s also applied to the other cheeses made using the animal rennet.
So you know the ending now,
lets’ take a step further to understand the situation!
Animal rennet and non-vegetarian
The use of animal rennet has a long history to trace. It is a an enzyme which extracted from the animal’s stomach and later add into the milk, for a process called milk curdling.
The same also happened in the making of parmesan, see the comparison in this article.
The “ew” part is that,
The stomach has to be sent and processed fast, right after the kills, so that the enzymatic reaction in the rennet will maintain a high effectiveness.
The reason being rennet only present in the unweaned animals, which the grown up (weaned) will produce much lesser of that enzyme to be effectively used in the milk curdling.
Since the process involved slaughtering of animals to produce them, and later used in making the cheese, the cheese is then not vegetarian.
Surprisedly, for those who wants to make cheese at home, you can use other ingredients to replace that. Here i discussed whether it’s possible to make mozzarella without rennet or citric acid.
The same applies to other cheeses too!
Can I have gorgonzola as a vegetarian? If not, any alternatives?
The easiest way is of course go to local vintage cheese store, you probably can find some. Other wise, the image above will bring you straight to Amazon my recommendation one, just grab from there, order from your comfort sofa.
Otherwise, you can always try to make your own vegetarian gorgonzola using vegetarian rennet (here this one i found on Amazon), It’s actually quite easy.
To boost your confident, watch this mother-son team up to nail the gorgonzola.
Before you go, take 1 minute to read through this important article where i spent hours to discuss about gorgonzola vs goat cheese!