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In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Week, we’re here to help you pick out some of our vegetarian cheeses to fill your sandwiches, veggie burgers, pastas, and soups. What better way to celebrate than by munching on as much veggie-friendly cheese as possible?

So what makes some cheese vegetarian and some not? The distinction in Tillamook Cheeses depends on the rennet we use. Rennet is an enzyme, which is vital to our cheese-making process because it kick-starts the formation of cheese curds. We add a tiny amount of rennet to make the milk coagulate, which then begins to develop into curds.

For centuries, the only known milk coagulant for cheesemaking was an enzyme from a cow’s stomach. Now we’re able to make most of our cheeses using a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly.

This veggie-friendly rennet is used to make all of our cheese except Tillamook Vintage White Medium Cheddar, Vintage White Sharp Cheddar, Vintage White Extra Sharp CheddarVintage White Smoked Extra Sharp Cheddar, and the 3 Year Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, which use traditional, bovine rennet. Other than these five cheeses, all other Tillamook Cheese is vegetarian!

What’s your favorite cheesy vegetarian meal to cook up!?

8 comments

Julie

I really appreciate that your cheeses are vegetarian friendly and are from cows not given bovine growth hormone. I would love to know if they are fed GMO foods? Thanks!

September 19th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Julie,

Thanks for your question, and for being a fan of our veggie-friendly cheese! To answer your question about GMOs, we know this topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers, and we want to be as accurate as possible in responding to questions about it. The farmer-owners and all the dairymen who supply milk for Tillamook dairy products use a variety of forages and grains for feed. While the mixture varies dairy to dairy, it’s likely to include a mix of grass, alfalfa, some corn silage, and grains such as barley or soy.

At this time, and in the absence of any clear standards or definitions around genetically modified substances, it is hard to know if the feed purchased for every cow contributing to our milk supply is GMO-free. In today’s market, it is extremely difficult to source feed for cattle that is 100% verified as GMO-free, given how pervasive GMOs are in the grain supply chain. Even organic feed for organic farms is extremely difficult to verify as GMO-free because of cross-pollination.

Thanks again for your comment! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them here on the blog, or contact us here.

All the best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

October 1st, 2013 at 12:06 pm

veggie

Thanks for making vegetarian friendly cheese

December 29th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

You're so welcome! Let me know if you give any of these recipes a whirl!

Best,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

January 3rd, 2014 at 3:23 pm

kim

Does Tillamook use non-gmo certfied rennet or is it gmo?

February 20th, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Callie

Tillamook Team

Hi Kim,

Thank you for your question. We know the GMO topic is a sensitive and important one to some consumers, and we want to be as accurate as possible in responding to questions and concerns about it. Your question regarding rennet involves a somewhat complex answer, so I will do my best to explain it here.
For a few of our aged white cheddar cheeses (Tillamook Vintage White Medium Cheddar, Vintage White Sharp, Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, Smoked Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, and 3 Year Aged Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar), we use a traditional bovine rennet. These products are not considered vegetarian.

For the majority of our other cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is made by first inserting cow genes into a microbe. During the fermentation process, the microbe grows and produces rennet that is exactly like that produced naturally. After purification, the end rennet product does not contain any genetically modified material, since it no longer contains DNA from the cow gene. It is considered non-GMO by U.S. food industry standards. This rennet allows us to make vegetarian-friendly cheese that maintains the high standard of quality that Tillamook is famous for. We use this rennet to make all of the following varieties of Tillamook cheese: Medium, Sharp, Special Reserve Extra Sharp, Kosher, and Reduced Fat Cheddar cheeses, as well as Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Colby, Colby-Jack, Pepper-Jack, Swiss and Reduced Fat Monterey.

I hope this information helps. Thanks again for taking the time to write to us, and please let me know if you have any more questions!

Thanks,

Callie, of the Tillamook team

February 27th, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Sylvia Lawrence

You said " For the majority of our other cheeses, we use a fermentation-produced rennet product that has Kosher and Halal certification, and is vegetarian-friendly. This rennet is made by first inserting cow genes into a microbe."

How is this vegetarian?

April 12th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Lauren

Tillamook Team

Hi Sylvia,

Thank you for your question! I know this topic can be confusing so I’ll try to clear it up a bit! Yes, the final rennet product is vegetarian-friendly. The rennet does originate from a cow gene, however after the fermentation and purification process, it no longer has any traces of animal ingredients.

All the best,

Lauren of the Tillamook team

April 16th, 2014 at 2:54 pm
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