Today we’re talking Vegetarian cheese in Australia. While working on a recipe for miso cacio e pepe recently, I was researching vegetarian brands of Parmesan (or Parmesan style cheese) in Australia. While looking, I discovered that there are lots of great resources out there for vegan cheese brands, but less for vegetarian cheese.
Vegetarian cheese still uses dairy products, but contains no animal rennet. Rennet, according to Google, is derived from the stomach of an un-weened calf. It is added to cheese to coagulate the milk and form the curd. Animal rennet has been used in traditional cheese for a long time. These days, non-animal rennet exists, so this list focused on the brands that use non-animal rennet.
Vegetarian cheese in Australia – what counts?
There are a few types of non-animal rennet classes. Firstly, there is vegetarian, which is made from plant matter. There is also thistle, which falls under the former category, but is sometimes explicitly mentioned, particularly on American cheeses. Finally, there is microbial rennet. My understanding is that microbial rennet is genetically engineered from animal rennet, and then reproduced artificially from there onwards. If that isn’t suitable for you, you will need to look for labels that specify vegetarian rennet. These are harder to come by in Australia, but not impossible.
Cultures and enzymes
As far as I can tell, cultures are not animal based, although they look like cause for vegetarian concern on the label. So, the word cultures in the ingredients list shouldn’t put you off in and of itself.
Sometimes, I have found, a cheese label says ‘non-animal rennet’ and then ‘enzymes’ as separate ingredient. Without specification, we don’t really know if the enzymes are vegetarian or a code name for rennet. In those cases, it’s best to email the manufacturer to confirm either way.
This list is accurate at the time of publishing, but everything is subject to change and not a guarantee of any kind. I’d recommend checking the label before purchasing, just in case. Look for a vegetarian label or the words non animal rennet/microbial rennet. At some point I will try and update the post to distinguish microbial from vegetarian in the strictest sense.
If you see something on this list that shouldn’t be there, send me a message! If you see something missing, let me know. My hope is that this will be a good and complete resource for vegetarian cheese lovers in Australia.
Brands that are vegetarian across the board
A special mention to these brands who don’t use any animal rennet. This list will hopefully make it easier to find vegetarian cheese quickly and easily. This is very subject to change, so feel free to message me with any insights.
- Riverina Dairy Company
- Maffra Cheese Company
- Community Co Cheese (IGA brand)
- Milawa Cheese Company
- True Organic Cheeses
- Great Ocean Road Cheeses
- Snowdonia Cheeses
- Prom Country Cheeses
Vegetarian cheese in Australia by cheese type
- Woolworths Grated Parmesan Cheese (but not the block)
- Symons Organic dairy Parmesan (there is a full list of stockists organised by state on their website)
- It was described to me as a cross between Parmesan and cheddar, but Bellavitano is vegetarian and available in Australia. It comes in different washes (Espresso! Merlot!) and is incredibly good. You can buy it at boutique grocers and places like Milk The Cow and The Adelaide Market.
- If you can get your hands on some Gran Kinara, it is a vegetarian rennet (as opposed to microbial rennet) alternative to Parmesan. If you are Melbourne based, DOC sells Gran Kinara.
Other hard cheeses
- Section 28 Raclette
- Snowdonia Red Leicester and all other Snowdonia hard cheeses
- Mainland Edam, Colby, Swiss and Gouda cheeses (but none of the cheddars)
- Jarlsberg cheese
- Castello Havarti
- Woolworths Brand Swiss Cheese Slices, Gouda and Havarti
- Cheer Aussie Jack Melting Slices
- Heidi Farm Gruyere and Raclette
- Fromagerie Port Salut washed rind
- Cracker Barrel Vintage Extra Sharp
- Symons Organic Dairy
- Bay of Fires Clothbound Cheddar
- Milawa David Brown Select Cheddar
- Aldi Emporium Selection Club Cheddar and Vintage Cheddar
- Barambah Organics Cheddar
- King Island Surprise Bay Cheddar
- Snowdonia Black Bomber Cheddar
- Norco Natural Cheese Cheddar (but not their other varieties)
- Great Ocean Road Vintage Cheddar and Colby cheeses
- True Organic Cheddar
- Warrnambool Heritage Vintage Cheddar
- Cheer Tasty Cheddar Block
- Bega Strong and Bitey
- Community Co (IGA brand) cheddar and all other cheeses
- Maffra Vintage Cheddar and all their other cheeses
- Devondale Cheddar
- Bega Stringers (lol) and seemingly all Cheddar Bega cheeses
- Coles Brand Vintage Cheddar
- D’affinois (all creamy types)
- Le Dauphin Double Creme cheese
- Milawa Brie and Camembert
- Aldi Emporium Selection Ash Brie Cheese
- Castello Double Cream Brie and Truffle Double Cream Brie
- True Organic Brie, Double Brie and Camembert
- Laughing Cow Cheese
- Udder Delights Brie
- Community Co (IGA brand) creamy cheeses
- St David’s Dairy Brie and Triple Cream Camembert
- Prom Country Cheese (full list is linked)
- Woolworths Brand Camembert
- Boursin cheese
- Maggie Beer Truffle Triple Brie
- President Brie and Camembert (but not the Feta)
- Tasmanian Heritage Double Brie
- Fromagerie Guilloteau Saint Angel Triple Cream
- Yarra Valley Dairy Camembert (but not their Brie)
- D’Affinois Bleu
- Berrys Creek Riverine Blue
- Milawa Aged Blue cheese
- Colston Bassett Shropshire Blue
- Cashel Blue Cheese and Crozier Blue Cheese
- Aldi Emporium Selection Smooth Blue cheese
- Castello Creamy Blue (but not the Danish blue – lipase is an animal product)
- True Organic Blue Cheese
Mozzarella, ricotta and other curd based cheeses
- That’s Amore Buffalo Mozzarella (but not the burrata which contains gelatin from the cream innards)
- That’s Amore Buffalo Bocconcini and smoked Bocconcini
- Ricotta is generally vegetarian as it uses whey or an acid like lemon juice instead of rennet. I have a lactose free recipe for ricotta if you’d like to make your own.
- Paneer is generally vegetarian as it uses whey or an acid like lemon juice instead of rennet. I have a lactose free recipe for paneer if you’d like to make your own.
- Cream cheese, cottage cheese and other curd cases are generally vegetarian
- Woolworths Mozzarella
- Wattle Valley Haloumi
- Riverina Dairy Company (and all their other cheeses)
- L’Artisan Haloumi
- True Organic Haloumi
- Lemnos Haloumi
Goat’s cheese and feta
- Meredith Dairy
- Holy Goat La Luna
- Yarra Valley Dairy Persian Feta
- Barambah Organics Feta
- Lemnos Fetta
- Aphrodite Double Aged Feta
- Woolworths Brand Danish Fetta and Greek Style Fetta
- South Cape Danish Feta and regular feta
Resources for finding Vegetarian cheese in Australia (and beyond)
- I haven’t heard of a lot of these cheeses, but this website seems to have quite a comprehensive list of vegetarian cheeses in the more gourmet and specialty categories
- This article is super helpful if you’re based in America.
- If you’re based in the UK, apparently a lot of Tesco’s branded cheeses are vegetarian friendly.
- Murrays Cheese’s (American/New York based) has a function to toggle on which cheeses contain vegetarian, thistle, or microbial based rennets.
- In Australia, Harper and Blohm has a similar function on their website.
- Calendar Cheese has a rennet toggle, but I’m not 100% sure all of them are accurate.
- If you’re uncertain, Woolworths website is better than Coles for listing the ingredients and including a photo of the back of the packet.
- Another good website (for supermarket brands) is Choice. Click over to the specifications tab and it should say what sort of rennet the cheese uses.
Experts in cheese who will be able to guide you
If you’re having a dinner party, you might not want to whip out the Bega stringers. Here are some suggestions for gourmet cheese vendors who will undoubtedly be able to assist you in your vegetarian cheese quest.
- Maker and Monger – Melbourne
- Milk The Cow – Melbourne
- Harper and Blohm – Melbourne
- Spring Street Grocer Cheese Cellar – Melbourne
- Penny’s Cheese Shop – Sydney
- The Artisan Cheese Room – Sydney
- Formaggi Ocello – Sydney
- La Boite A Fromages – (near) Sydney
- Boatshed Cottesloe – (near) Perth
- Smelly Cheese Company – Adelaide
- Le Fromage Yard – Brisbane
- New Farm Deli – Brisbane