What are they?
Rennets are small hamster like rodents which are intensively factory farmed and slaughtered for the production of cheese.
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Cheese is made by coagulating milk to give curds which are then separated from the liquid, whey, after which they can be processed and matured to produce a wide variety of cheeses. Milk is mostly coagulated by the addition of rennets. The active ingredient of rennets is the enzyme, chymosin (also known as rennin). Rennets are intensively farmed and slaughtered at around 3 months of age. Vegetarian cheeses are manufactured using a non rennet alternative from either fungal or bacterial sources.
Vegetarian cheeses are made without rennets. In the past, fig leaves, melon, wild thistle and safflower have all supplied an alternative to rennets for cheese making. However, most widely available vegetarian cheeses are made using an alternative to rennets produced by fermentation of the fungus Mucor miehei. Vegetarian cheese may also be made using a substance from the bacteria Bacillus subtilis or Bacillus prodigiosum.
Vegetarian cheeses are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores. A wide variety of cheeses are now made without rennets and labeled as suitable for vegetarians. No particular type of cheese is exclusively vegetarian. Soft cheeses are as likely to be non-vegetarian as hard cheese.
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