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Vegetarians and Cheese

Updated on June 17, 2015
Should vegetarians eat cheese?
Should vegetarians eat cheese? | Source

The debate - vegetarians and cheese

Should vegetarians eat cheese? Should vegetarians wear leather? Come to that, should vegetarians drink wine? I will admit that I do all three.

Many wines use animal products during their production. Isinglass and gelatin are sometimes used in the production of beer. Many packaged products and that includes chocolates and candies contain ingredients that involve the slaughtering of animals. And of course, we have to think about gelatin, ice cream ... beware of pastries because lard might have been used ... potato chips, even the plain variety, are sometimes soaked in animal fat during production ... capric acid is used in salad dressings and chewing gum ...

You know I could go on but the list is endless.

To be truly vegetarian would mean constant vigilance and I know that many vegetarians do just that and take these issues very seriously avoiding any suggestion of animal products.


I guess I'm a half-hearted veggie

I'm not vegan; I eat eggs, honey and dairy products. If I wasn't half-hearted, I'd have to check the ingredients in candles, soap, toothpaste, medicines, cosmetics, vitamin supplements, perfume, soft drinks ... and many more goods. I even have a leather jacket and a pair of leather gloves.

I'm not clever enough to cook without cheese. I enjoy a glass of wine. I enjoy chocolate even more.

Yes, half-hearted. But does that mean that I should give in and chow down on a juicy steak? I don't think so.

There are many reasons for being vegetarian

And these are the ones I'm aware of - there are probably more.

  • To reduce animal suffering. Society has come a long way to reduce this but it has an even longer way to go. Many vegetarians I know were first turned off the idea of meat simply because of animal compassion. It's well known that Paul and Linda McCartney suddenly decided to stop eating meat when they were looking out of the window watching lambs gamboling - and realized that they were eating lamb as they were admiring them.
  • For improved health. At one time, many years ago, vegetarians were told that their diet was unhealthy. Today we know that avoiding animal fats is beneficial to health.
  • Religious reasons. For centuries, there have been various religions that demand that the devout follow a vegetarian diet.
  • Cost. Meat can be horrendously expensive, especially if you're shopping for good quality, organic meat. Some families choose to cut down on meat for purely economic reasons. Often they find that there are health benefits too and gradually cut meat and fish from their diets over a period of time.
  • Concern about the meat industry. If you are vegetarian, you've probably read about the horrors of the meat industry today. This isn't the place to go into the gory details but many people who read about the way that meat is produced today are powerfully affected - enough to make them cut down - or cut out - their meat consumption.
  • The environmental impact. Most of us know those statistics about how many acres of land is required to grow a ton of beef as opposed to a ton of vegetables, grain and pulses. What's more, studies suggest that there are so many cattle on the planet that they have a damaging effect due to methane.
  • Dislike of meat. Some people, me included, simply don't like the taste of meat. Some people find sausages pretty revolting; I know I do. Some people are OK with lean meat but hate even a drop of fatty meat. Yep, some people just don't like it.

The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet
The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet

This best-selling book is wonderful if you are thinking about cutting back on the animal products you eat.

If you're already vegetarian - as we are - you'll still find some great information here.

Often I've come across people who think that it's 'too hard' to give up eating flesh, despite the huge number of people who successfully make the change every year. Is it for you?

You won't know until you try.


There are no rules

A few weeks ago, we were house-guests in a home of meat eaters; my sister and her partner. They know we don't eat meat and are very accommodating.

For breakfast, my sister, bless her, in addition to the bacon and sausages cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, potato cakes ... and there was plenty of toast and marmalade ... there was no need for the vegetarians to go hungry at all. Then ...


I decided to have a rasher of bacon. It was lovely. No, it didn't make me into a raging carnivore. It's not like a recovering alcoholic being pushed off the straight and narrow because they've sniffed a chocolate liqueur. It was just nice. I enjoyed that rasher of bacon.

In the meantime, my husband (who is less half-hearted than me but eats cheese, drinks wine and wears leather) happily and virtuously ate his mushrooms, tomatoes and potato cakes. What he didn't realize was that my sister, who doesn't really understand what vegetarians are all about, had fried them in the same pan as the bacon.


The roof didn't fall in. There was no thunderbolt from the sky blasting us down because we'd eaten meat products. The world didn't end. Yes, I was the subject of some good-natured joking around - 'ha, some vegetarian, eating bacon' - but so what?

Once, in twenty five years or however long it is, I ate a rasher of bacon. I still call myself vegetarian and we still stick to exactly the same diet.


There's no-one secretly keeping score. There are no rules. Some people prefer to avoid meat but still eat fish. My mother-in-law, much to my amusement, calls herself vegetarian but eats chicken. (? I know!) Some people avoid eating meat and fish but eat cheese, drink wine and wear leather.

Many, not all, people who are vegan, are concerned with animal welfare. Some people avoid animal products as much as they possibly can. When Linda McCartney was having treatment for the breast cancer that killed her, she was concerned that the drugs she took had been tested on animals.

If a family member of mine needed life-saving medical treatment, I wouldn't give a hoot. Everyone is different.There is no secret scorecard. We are not - and should not - be judged.


Today we like to classify things. We like to compartmentalize. Websites like to explain the difference between lacto-vegetarians, ovo-vegetarians, vegans and possibly there's even a word for cheese-eating wine-drinking leather-wearing vegetarians.

But what's the point? We have chosen, for whatever reason, not to eat or to limit our consumption of animal products. Just don't tell me that I'm a hypocrite - we are all trying our best for our own personal reasons.

OK, what do YOU think?

Do I have a point?

Further reading

Are you interested in why so many people today don't eat meat? Statistics show that more and more young people - children and teenagers - are deciding that they prefer a meat-free diet.

This is causing problems with some parents who think it's 'just a phase'. It might well be, but if you have a child who has decided to follow a vegetarian diet, these books might help you understand why it could be better for your family's health - and for the planet - after all.

Vegetarian cheese products

Although we do eat cheese, from time to time we choose products that are completely vegan. This is because we have both been non-meat eaters for many years and when we stopped eating meat, the vegan products available were pretty bad - to be honest. Things have changed a lot and now we like to experiment with different foods to bring variety into our diets.

Cheese video

On this video, the man says that when we were growing up we could count the variety of cheese on the market on one hand 'and that includes velvita'. I remember many more, don't you? (And I don't remember anything called velvita). But the OTHER man is interesting!

© 2013 Jackie Jackson

Any comments?

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      4 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I think you covered it very well. Enjoyed reading this.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      these lens is really for me i love vegetable and cheeses as well

    • suepogson profile image


      5 years ago

      I think you have a levelheaded approach and wish that others shared your attitude. I would love to try the cheeses options I am looking at above the comments .... they look so tasty!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      I can truly understand how you had to have that bacon. And no, the world will end because of that. Blessed by TonyBTonyB

    • norma-holt profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice informative lens. featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013. Hugs

    • BritFlorida profile imageAUTHOR

      Jackie Jackson 

      5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ecogranny: Thank you so much for your words of wisdom; you explain the point very well indeed. There are so many reasons for being vegetarian - or cutting down on meat consumption - and no-one should think that it's a hard and fast rule.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      You practically took the words out of my mouth! Thank you for expressing this view on GoodVeg. It is easy to feel as though there is little room for people who are still in process toward becoming fully vegetarian, and others who feel they may never reach that destination. The most important factor, in my view, is to walk the path, however twisting and long it may be.


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