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Many of us associate parmesan cheese with the finely grated cheese seen in pizza parlors, rather than a piece of cheese.

As a vegetarian, you’re undoubtedly concerned about what you eat and wondering whether you can consume parmesan cheese. So, what exactly is parmesan cheese, and where does it originate? Is parmesan cheese a vegetarian cheese?

Sadly, parmesan cheese is not vegetarian, and as a vegan, I would urge you to avoid eating it since it is not suitable for you.

This article will explain why parmesan cheese is not vegan and what alternative vegetarian-friendly cheeses you should use instead.

Let’s get this party started!

What Is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan is the generic word used in the United States and elsewhere in Europe to identify local variations of the traditional Italian hard cheese Parmigiano Reggiano, which has long been prepared in central Italy.

Also read: Is Edam Cheese Vegetarian?

Being an EU-protected designation, its name refers to the particular locations surrounding Parma and Reggio Emilia where it is produced. This implies that no other cheese may use the name Parmigiano Reggiano.

Is Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?

As previously mentioned, traditional parmesan cheese is NOT vegetarian; read below for further information on why parmesan cheese is not considered vegetarian.

Why Is Parmesan Not Considered Vegetarian?

Parmesan cheese is not vegan-friendly since the rennet used is derived from animals. It may not be suited for meat-free meals because to the presence of a stomach-turning component known as animal rennet, which is usually extracted from the stomachs of calves.

Certain cheeses, like Parmesan, include the stomach linen of young calves that spend their whole short lives in captivity before being slaughtered for veal.

What Cheeses Are Vegetarian?

Vegetarians will appreciate cheeses made from plant-based components such as soybeans, cashews, coconut, and almonds.

The most prevalent vegan cheeses are cheddar, Gouda, parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese, all of which are available in nondairy versions.

How Do I Know If the Parmesan Cheese I’m Getting Is Vegetarian?

Here are some parameters to help you determine whether or not parmesan cheese is vegetarian:

Also see: Top Edam Cheese Substitutes

1. If it is imported, it is almost certainly not vegetarian since the European Union has tight standards about what may be branded as parmesan. Animal rennet must be used as an active component.

2. Parmesan cheese in a bottle from a grocery shop in the United States may be vegetarian, depending on the source of rennets used if it is not derived from animals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does all parmesan have rennet?

Parmesan cheese was not initially vegetarian, but many manufacturers in the United States now utilize vegetable rennetin instead of calf lining, claiming that the dairy business is harmful to both mother cows and calves.

Is Kraft parmesan cheese vegetarian?

Kraft parmesan, often known as shredded parmesan cheese, contains microbiological components but may also include lipase (animal-derived).

Check the label for lipase when purchasing Kraft parmesan cheese. If it includes lipase, it is completely unsuitable for vegetarians.

Is grated parmesan cheese vegetarian?

Grated parmesan cheese is not vegan since it includes animal rennets.

What is a vegetarian substitute for parmesan?

The good news is that there are nutritious vegetarian alternatives that may taste somewhat different from parmesan, such as the following:

  • Violife vegan parmesan: This cheese is manufactured with coconut oil and vitamin B12 and is dairy, lactose, and soy free.
  • Parma vegan parmesan cheese: It is highly cost-effective since it tastes and feels like genuine parmesan but is created from vegan materials rather of animal rennets.

Twineham Grange is another. Dairy-free cashew grated cheese, Monterey jack cheese, vegetarian asiago cheese, soy parmesan, nutritional yeast, and other options include Italian-style hard cheese, vbites dairy-free Italian hard style cheezly, and so on.

Also see Best Fontina Cheese Substitutes.


If you are a vegetarian looking for vegetarian cheeses, avoid parmesan since it is intrinsically non-vegetarian.

We recommend that you settle for other alternative cheeses to the ones described above or do more research since there are plenty of cheeses with wonderful advantages and flavor, particularly for vegetarians.


What is in Parmesan that makes it not vegetarian?

So, what’s the deal with Parmesan cheese? It is an excellent question. It has to do with the usage of something called rennet, which is essential to the manufacture of Parmesano-Reggiano. Rennet is often extracted from the fourth stomach of a young grazing animal, such as calves, goats, or lambs.

What is vegetarian Parmesan cheese made of?

BelGioioso Vegetarian Parmesan is created with fresh milk collected daily from our local farmers and does not include any animal rennet. Each wheel is aged for nearly ten months in specific caverns. To maintain an uniform maturing process, BelGioioso’s Master Cheesemakers scrutinize and hand-turn each wheel.

Is vegetarian Parmesan cheese the same as regular?

According to Allrecipes, parmesan cheese is manufactured using rennet, an enzyme required to set cheese that originates from the stomachs of animals such as calves, goats, or lambs. Since rennet cannot be extracted without causing injury to the animal, its usage typically disqualifies cheese from being vegetarian-friendly.

What does it mean if cheese is vegetarian?

Vegetarian cheese is often composed of cow’s milk, beneficial bacteria, salt, and other flavoring elements (such as black truffles). A vegetarian diet avoids items derived from animals (such as meat), although cheese may be vegetarian if it does not include animal rennet.

What’s the difference between vegetarian Parmesan and regular Parmesan?

Which cheeses are not suitable for vegetarians? Vegetarians should never eat Parmesan cheese. To be recognized as having unique names, cheeses from a given place must follow a regular formula. In the case of Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan cheese, this implies that animal rennet is always used.

Why do vegetarians not eat rennet cheese?

Many cheeses include animal rennet, an enzyme that aids in the separation of milk into curds and whey. Since that enzyme is often extracted from the stomachs of calves slaughtered for veal, most vegetarians consider it off-limits.

Do all Parmesan cheese have rennet?

Although not all dairy-based Parmesan cheese contains calf rennet (many brands in the United States utilize vegetable rennet in lieu of the stomach linings of animals), supporting the dairy sector is still detrimental for both mother cows and their calves.

Is rennet ever vegetarian?

Vegetable rennet, derived from plants such as thistle, nettle, artichokes, figs, and dried caper leaves, has the same coagulating function as animal rennet. It also has the extra bonus of being vegetarian-friendly, allowing cheesemakers to manufacture authentic vegetarian cheese.

Is animal rennet vegetarian?

“Rennet is an enzyme derived from the stomachs of ruminant animals such as cows and goats,” explains Abby Cannon, R.D., who follows a plant-based diet. “It is not considered vegetarian since it is acquired after the animal has been slaughtered.”

What is a vegetarian substitute for rennet?

Milase vegetarian rennet is a microbial alternative for natural rennet that is recovered by the fermentation of the fungus Rhizomucor miehei in herbal solution. The herbal soil is made out of lactose- and fat-free soy flour derived from genetically unaltered plants.

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