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Updated: 1 week 2 days ago
I was pretty sad when I learned in high school that cheese was not vegetarian. It’s so delicious! But after I stopped eating it I stopped missing it. A few years ago I learned that some cheeses are vegetarian, and have been very happy ever since.
I’ve noticed just in the past year that consciousness is raising of non-vegetarian cheese ingredients. There was an NPR segment in part on this, and staff at cheese stores are usually knowledgeable about which of their cheeses are vegetarian.
Still, most people don’t know that cheese isn’t always vegetarian, and it’s tricky to figure out which cheeses are vegetarian. Good labeling is the next frontier! But in an effort to increase vegetarian cheese awareness (and procrastinate), I put together some information below.
Why are some cheeses not vegetarian?
Milk doesn’t coagulate itself. Cheese makers use an ingredient called rennet to get the milk to coagulate. Rennet often comes from young ruminant animals, which are animals that have a special stomach that is able to ferment certain plant nutrients. Cows, goats, and llamas are examples of ruminant animals. (Though cheese rennet doesn’t usually come from llamas!)
Specifically, rennet comes from a young ruminant animal’s abomasum, which is one part of this special stomach.
Some rennet, though, is made from microbial coagulants. This rennet (typically called “Microbial enzymes” or sometimes “vegetable/non-animal rennet”) is vegetarian.
How do you know if a cheese is vegetarian?
It’s difficult. Rarely can you figure this out from reading the ingredients, which is unfortunate. A minority of cheeses actually list “animal rennet” in their ingredients. These cheeses are clearly not vegetarian. Another minority of cheeses list “non-animal rennet” as an ingredient. These cheeses are vegetarian.
Which cheeses are vegetarian?
Unfortunately cheaper cheeses are rarely vegetarian. The one exception to this is Cabot Cheese. All of their cheeses are vegetarian, except for their sliced American cheese, but that’s gross anyways.
Hard cheeses are rarely vegetarian. I’m not sure why this is. Italians law prohibits calling cheese Parmesan if it does not use calf rennet, so no Parmesan is vegetarian. Yet Whole Foods-brand Parmesan is vegetarian. I’m not sure how they get away with this.
Up until writing this post I had been under the impression that Kosher cheese is vegetarian, since dairy and meat cannot mix for people who keep Kosher. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, which cites this post by a rabbi, animal rennet is not classified as meat. Sad.
British cheese tends to be vegetarian. I noticed this anecdotally, and the British Cheese Board confirms that nearly all British cheese makers use a non-animal rennt agent. I’m not sure why this is.
Haloumi cheese is vegetarian. This is nice for fellow vegetarians who travel in Africa, as Lebanese supermarkets frequently sell Haloumi cheese!
What is your favorite vegetarian cheese, Shelby?
International Crisis Group has an informative Q&A on the recent Boko Haram university attack in Yobe. They are coming out with a full report on Boko Haram mid-March.
In the early hours of Tuesday 25 February, about 50 gunmen from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram stormed a co-educational, federal government boarding school in Buni Yadi, Yobe State, about 65km from the state capital, Damaturu. The attackers locked a dormitory and set it on fire, killing many students inside. Students who tried to escape were shot or knifed to death. In all, there were 59 fatalities; all killed were males; some female students were abducted, others ordered to quit school and go get married or be killed in future attacks. The school’s 24 buildings were completely burned down.
What are the [general] implications for the 2015 elections?
The Independent National Electoral Commission warned in December 2013 that it might not be able to conduct elections in the three states (Adamawa, Borno and Yobe) under emergency rule if the attacks continue into next year. These states are among sixteen in which the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) is quite strong. Some opposition politicians are already alleging that Jonathan is allowing the poor security situation to persist, or even deteriorate, in order not to hold polls in those states. A general or presidential election that leaves out these three states could give Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a significant advantage at the polls. If Jonathan wins re-election that way, the opposition will likely vigorously challenge his victory; the 2011 post-election violence in the north killed more than 1,000.
However, conversely, there are those who believe the government’s management of the conflict reflects poorly on the Jonathan administration and therefore continued attacks could dim the president’s chances of re-election.
This new video from BattaBox records two Nigerians arguing with each other about how bad Nigerian airlines are. It is priceless.
Choice quotes include “Concorde don fizzle out since 1974″ and “I’ve enjoyed better service inside BRT.”
Below is a two minute video following up on Vocal Slender, the guy from the BBC Lagos documentary who was a trash scavenger and rapper. H/t to Jonathan.
It includes this wonderful piece of unintentional commentary on risk management for people who do business in Lagos.
“If your name is not on Google, I don’t do business with you, because I can’t find you.”
Africa Confidential has a gated article on Liberian mercenaries who fought in Cote d’Ivoire:
Although groups of Liberian mercenaries and Ivorian militia loyal to Gbagbo remain active in the lush forests of the Great West, the area has been quiet since the last series of cross-border attacks from Liberia in March 2013. A December report by the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia concluded that the Ivorian authorities have been paying Liberian mercenaries and FLGO members to stop their attacks.
In May 2013 Liberian forces detained an Ivorian government delegation in Grand Gedeh which was carrying funds for the pay-off. The Ouattara government denounced the report as a fabrication but sources consulted by Africa Confidential confirmed that regular payments have been made.
Also, apparently some of the mercenaries are on trial in Monrovia:
They are defended by a prominent Krahn lawyer Tiawon Gongloe, who was Johnson-Sirleaf’s Solicitor General and is now a fierce critic of the President.