Is Cheese Vegan?

Is Cheese Vegan?

Cheese is loved all around the world for its sharp, pungent flavors. There are over 5000 varieties of cheese to choose from, each with different notes and textures to suit various preferences.

Cheese may be popular, but if you’re wondering if cheese is vegan, unfortunately, the answer is no. Vegans don’t eat cheese as it’s derived using animal labor, as well as other reasons, which we’ll cover in this post. 

Why Is Cheese Not Vegan?

Here are the reasons why cheese doesn’t align with veganism values.

Cheese Comes From Animals

Cheese is made from milk-producing animals, like cows, goats, and sheep. Vegans try to avoid any cruelty or exploitation of animals for food, clothing, and other purposes.

Vegans can have cheese that has been made with the plant-based matter, like coconut oil or almond cheese. These allow vegans to enjoy a form of cheese that aligns with their values

Animals Are Killed To Produce Cheese

People that aren’t familiar with veganism often believe that animals aren’t killed for milk, which would make cheese suitable for a vegan diet. 

This statement isn’t true, as after looking into the dairy industry further, you realize that animals do die in relation to cheese production. 

Once dairy cows cannot produce any more milk, they are slaughtered and processed into meat. Male calves are killed straight after they have been born to make veal, as they cannot produce any milk. 

Many Cheeses Aren’t Vegetarian

Many vegetarians do eat cheese, but some varieties do contain animal rennet, a substance sourced from the rennet stomach of junior ruminants, usually a calf. 

Cheese created with animal milk isn’t vegan, but as some cheeses, like feta, Parmesan, and Gruyere aren’t vegetarian, this is another reason to avoid the food entirely. 

The Cruel Dairy Industry

Cows can only produce milk if they are pregnant. Dairy cows are artificially fertilized repeatedly with bull semen until they cannot give milk anymore.

This generally occurs after five years, after which the cow is killed and turned into meat. Once the cows do give birth, their descendants are taken away from the mother, so they cannot receive the health benefits from their mother’s milk.

Dairy cows go through this cruel process time and time again, so it’s clear why vegans choose to abstain from cheese. 

Cheese Isn’t Healthy

Cheese does consist of beneficial nutrients, like zinc, phosphorus, and calcium. This may sound appealing, but it’s full of unhealthy substances too. 

Cheese is packed with saturated fatty acids that can increase cholesterol levels. It can also contain a lot of salt, which can increase blood pressure. Both of these effects can put you at risk of developing heart disease. 

As cheese has such a palatable flavor, a lot of people disregard the possibility of feces and pus lying within the cheese.

The FDA permits 750 million pus cells per liter of milk, while the Milk Quality Ordinance of 1980 allows 100,000 germs per ml of cows’ milk. These contamination possibilities are a good reason why vegans avoid cheese.

Is Cheese Vegan?

Depletes Resources

Animals need to be fed so they can produce enough milk for dairy manufacturers. One cow can eat around 50 to 80 kilograms of fresh matter each day. This is mostly concentrated food, like millet, corn, or soy. This doesn’t include their water supply, as just one cow will need to drink 150 liters of water a day. 

Around 1.5 billion cattle are needed around the world, so it’s evident how these resources can start to build up over time.

This is in addition to the animal stables and transportation methods which require a lot of energy. Switching to a plant-based diet is one way of opposing these detrimental customs. 

Empathy For Animals

We’ve touched on how brutal the dairy industry is. Vegans generally feel empathy for animals and believe that we shouldn’t benefit from their exploitation and murder. 

In the case of cheese production, goats, sheep, and cows haven’t harmed us in any way. These are innocent animals that can feel the same way humans do. Empathy for animals is a huge reason why vegans avoid eating cheese at all costs. 

Factory Farms And The Environment

Animal food products are not efficient. 77% of the globe’s total land mass is inhabited by ‘food-producing animals’, but they only deliver 18% of the calories recorded by the world’s growing population. 

This extensive land area is required as concentrated food, like soybean meal, needs to be grown to feed the animals.

The animals also need this space to graze, though factory farming keeps these animals in crowded, inhumane conditions.  

Factory farming is one of the main causes of rainforest deforestation and is connected with the acceleration of climate change and its effects. This is a result of the large water demand, and the energy needed to support animal stables and transportation. 

The methane produced by the cows is also a factor. Methane is responsible for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions per year in the United States, 31% of which comes from livestock. 

Vegan Cheese Alternatives

Cheese lovers thinking about switching to a vegan lifestyle may think that it will be too hard to give up their favorite cheese brand. 

However, the modern age means that it’s never been easier to make the change. There are lots of plant-based alternatives that mean vegans won’t need to give cheese up. 

Whether you prefer cream cheese, mozzarella, cheese slices, or hard cheese, there are endless plant-based substitutes that also taste amazing.

More and more supermarkets are stocking vegan cheese brands, but you can also look for these options online or at specialty stores. 

Vegan cheese alternatives allow you to eat a margarita pizza, make a cheese sandwich, or top your spaghetti without contributing to animal cruelty. 


Those were the reasons why vegans abstain from eating cheese! The taste isn’t the issue, but the cheese and dairy industry has repercussions on animals, the environment, and humans themselves. 

Fortunately, the ever-increasing range of plant-based cheeses means that vegans no longer have to forgo cheese, just switch to a plant-based alternative. 

Brandon White
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