I’m here to talk to you about cheeses

31 May

While I’m not vegetarian, I do plan meatless meals, and these are some of our favorites. I caught this blog post by fellow blogger loveonice that mentions Parmesan cheese. I want to address this issue because it’s really important.

I have a number of vegetarians in my life, some by choice, some for religion, and their reasons don’t matter to me. What matters to me is that when they are in my home, they are comfortable and when I go to their home, I don’t take anything into their personal space that might be offensive to them. To me, their personal space includes their cubicle at work. I was shocked once to see a colleague munching down a beef burrito in the cubicle of my Hindu vegetarian colleague. Manners, people!

So here’s the deal. Some cheeses are made with rennet. Rennet is a product made from calf stomach that helps to curdle milk in cheese-making. Not every cheese is made this way. Parmigiano Reggiano is, and so are many others. What to do? Check the label if you’re making something for someone who is a vegetarian and don’t call anything you make vegetarian if you aren’t sure.

It should go without saying that you should never, ever use chicken or beef broth in a soup you are serving to a vegetarian. Here is a simple rule I use. If there is no meat going into the soup or sauce, then I use vegetable stock. It makes it very easy when I have a crowd over to say: if you can’t SEE meat in it, then there isn’t any. I will apply the same rule to recipes with cheese. If the dish is meatless, so will be the cheese I used.

Years ago, I caught an episode of the television series e.r. where one of the doctors had been sent for several weeks in the deep South of the US to work off some student loan debt or something like this. The man was a vegetarian and couldn’t find anything suitable to eat. Finally, his landlady made him a sweet potato pie. He had wolfed down about half of it when she said, “I didn’t know if you’d eat that or not because of the lard.”

I have added a “Cheese List for Vegetarians” link to the blog roll at the lower right hand side of the page. In the future, when meatless meals contain cheese, I will direct your attention to that list so you have the information available.

3 Responses to “I’m here to talk to you about cheeses”

  1. Becca's Kitchen May 31, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Thanks for this! I love being vegetarian, but sometimes I feel a little neurotic being paranoid about things like this. I also want to thank you, on behalf of all vegetarians and vegans everywhere, for being so considerate!! I’ve gotten used to people eating meat in front of me and serving me meat, but I can for sure tell you your efforts are appreciated. 🙂 I’m glad i found you on here – love your blog!

    • Mrs. U. May 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Thank you! It’s your body. What you choose to put in it or on it are really basic rights. I support your right to make those elemental choices. If you’re in my home, I’m going to try to make it easy for you so you feel good about visiting with me. If we’re going out to dinner somewhere, I’m going to help find a place where you have more than one choice on the menu that suits your needs.

      You can return the favor by not letting anyone put a maraschino cherry or grenadine with Red Dye #40 (known as Allura Red AC in Europe) in my drink. I am allergic to it. Really. So don’t just pull the cherry out after I notice.

      • Becca's Kitchen May 31, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

        That’s awful, someone trying to trick you like that! Even if you weren’t allergic, those dyes are so unhealthy! Actually, carcinogenic. Thanks again for your hospitality…what a different world it would be if everyone was so considerate. 🙂

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