Some Facts about Cheese

Warning: this is Gross!  basket_of_cheese-876

I have heard many people tell me that they could give up milk, but they “could never give up cheese”’.  Maybe this will change their minds.

Did you know that cheese is made from rennet?  Rennet is obtained from the lining of the fourth stomach of newborn calves that have been slaughtered.  The enzyme’s purpose is to help the baby calf digest his mother’s milk.  Rennet can also be obtained from the stomach of piglets.  In either case, the stomachs are cut up or milled and put into a solution to extract the rennet which is then used to coagulate milk to make cheese.

You may say to yourself (as I did), but cheese has been around for centuries, surely the ancient cultures didn’t kill baby calves to make cheese!  So I did some research and found out that cheese making originated somewhere between 8,000 BC – 3,000 BC.  Most likely it originated in the Middle East or Central Asia.  In ancient times, animal skins and inflated animal organs were used as storage containers.  It is believed that cheese making was discovered accidentally when milk was stored in a container made from the stomach of an animal, exposing it to rennet and turning it into cheese! (source:

There are vegetarian means to produce rennet.  Fig juice, dried caper leaves, mettle thistles, mallow and ground ivy have all been used throughout history.  Typically commercial vegetable rennet comes from fermented fungi or bacteria.  However in many cases the vegetable rennet comes from genetically altered rennet that came from DNA of the calves’ stomach.  And so, as with anything, it is important to check the labels and make sure the manufacturer discloses the source of their vegetarian rennet.

Good news — Trader Joe’s carries cheese made from vegetable and microbial rennet.

Additional Sources:


  1. It is good to check the ingredient lists of the products you eat. Vegetarian cheez that melts actually has casein in it which is derived from cows milk.

    Knowing where your products come from is an important thing that we have grown away from. This ignorance is what frightens people when they hear where certain foods come from. It is treated as if this is an affront to our well being. The truth of the matter is that these foods have been made this way for most of civilization. What should really scare people is the things groups like Monsanto do to our food.

    When you consider things like crossing animal dna with vegetable dna to make a “better” product it sounds like the stuff of nightmares or horror films. But this is an everyday occurrance for those who push GMO foods on the population.

    • Jon you are right on. The move toward GMO foods is frightening beyond even what we can imagine. What are we doing to the future food supply? We we even be able to grow food in future generations? Or are we destroying the natural process?

  2. Jon is right and very few people are interested in the original food source. This was good info.

  3. As I am sitting here reading your reply I am looking for a like button (what’s that say about how much of my time has been spent lately). You are so spot on. The implications of GMO bring more questions to the forefront than anything they have hopes of answering.

  4. Well, isn’t that an eye opener. I know so many people that say they couldn’t live without cheese and put it on everything. I stick to a mostly Paleo diet during the week so I don’t eat cheese a lot anymore, but I can see how people are addicted to it as it is delicious, but this kind of information will probably make people think twice about it.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: