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My wife is vegetarian and, since meeting her, I've come to realise that all Grana Padano seems to be non-vegetarian. Is this really the case, or are my local supermarkets just not stocking the veggie stuff? Would be a shame for her to miss out on so many things (esp. pesto) just because of this.


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don't be offended, but realizing that Grana Padano is non vegetarian is like realizing that Champagne contains alcohol... if it is Grana Padano, it is made from cow milk, period. If it is vegetarian, it is not Grana Padano, says the law. For something that can be used to replace grated hard cheese, indeed yeast flakes can help. Although the taste is different, of couse. – Walter A. Aprile Oct 8 '11 at 18:27
I was asking about it being vegetarian, not vegan. It was the rennet I was interested in. Thanks anyway - probably just a language issue. :) – Mal Ross Oct 10 '11 at 8:04
up vote 8 down vote accepted

You may be able to find vegetarian Grana Padano style cheese, but I don't think you will find the real thing in vegetarian form.

This is because the making of Grana Padano is still a traditional process and true GP cheese is only produced in certain regions of Italy. It in fact has P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin) status, which means that only those cheeses produced in certain regions and using certain methods can legally be called Grana Padano. I imagine one of those methods is using animal rennet.

I would be surprised that there isn't some form of substitute available in Italy, as they have the highest proportion of vegetarians in Europe at 10%. I get the feeling, however, that they are perhaps less zealous about it than others if it means giving up good cheese.

The only suggestion I have found as an alternative to GP as something to sprinkle on pasta etc is nutritional yeast powder, which apparently has a similar nutty, creamy taste. Not ideal, but if you make the choice to be veggie you have to take the rough with the smooth!

I see from your profile that you live in the UK; we are lucky in that we have a lot of fantastic small local producers, so it may be worth looking up some local dairies or cheesemakers and seeing if they can offer an alternative.

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Yeah, I'll have to check with the Northumberland Cheese Company, as they're just down the road from me and all of theirs is vegetarian. Don't think I've ever seen a proper hard cheese like GP in their shop, mind. Thanks for answering, btw. :) – Mal Ross Oct 6 '11 at 10:05
"I get the feeling, however, that they are perhaps less zealous about it than others if it means giving up good cheese." - absolutely true. I have met vegetarians in Italy who ate rennet-made cheese. And: Good quality hard cheese with bacterial enzymes exists, I have a piece of it in my fridge right now. A cheese producer is maybe not your best bet, go to a cheese monger who imports cheese from different sources, they will probably have something for you. – rumtscho Oct 6 '11 at 11:46

I Buy kosher Grana Padano:

Since we can't use animal rennet,it is vegetarian and it says so on their web page.

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No. Grana Padano's traditional recipe uses animal rennett and because it has DOP protection under EU law, no cheese made to any other recipe can be sold as 'Grana Padano'.

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Try Grana Padano Tipo, which contains a modified enzyme. It's used by a leading vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, for its full flavour.

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Unless I'm mistaken in my translation (and google translate is backing me up on this one), 'Tipo' means 'Type' ... so I assume it's trying to say it's similar to grana padano, and may not necessarily means it's vegan unless it's got some other qualifiers (to differentiate between other variants). I've found mention of 'Grana Padano Tipo Trentino', which uses calf rennet. – Joe Jun 25 '13 at 16:08

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