Thursday, April 3, 2008

This just in...

I found something out on Tuesday that upset me a great deal.

Just a warning - this is going to be about cheese, so if you aren't interested, this would be a good stopping point.

As part of this new cheese life that I am starting, I went to a Cheese 101 class on Tuesday afternoon. It all started out so well. We were getting to taste 9 different cheeses, all looking and smelling delicious. I have to admit, I was just as excited for this as I was for my first day of culinary school(I was super-excited for that).

Anyway, we start learning about what makes cheese, cheese. Aparently, a coagulant is added to milk to make it change it's form, etc.

There are 3 types of coagulant. Now, bear in mind that I was in the middle of tasting a delicious cheddar from England as I was being told this.

The 1st type(and I'm not going to go into the other 2) is called animal rennet. This is an enzyme that comes from the stomach lining of unweaned animals. You may be saying, so? Well, the animal has to freaking DIE to get this. Animals DIE to make cheese?????? WHAT?
Maybe I've been living on another planet and should've known this already, but that really upset me. You may be asking yourself and me, for that matter, Leanna, don't you eat pretty much everything?

Yes, I do. I eat fois gras, I have eaten chicken and eggs that are not free-range, I have eaten and enjoyed lots of farmed fish, but I draw the line at veal. And for some reason, I equate this with it - I guess because the animal is so young and helpless, etc.

Again you may be confused. I know that this seems confusing, but you need to know a little bit more about me to understand my kinship with cows.

When I was 18-19, I lived in Israel, and for part of that time, I lived on a kibbutz, and my job was to help birth and raise the calves. In the time that I was there, I helped in approximately 75 births. I also watched sadly as the male calves were shipped off to become veal, and although I was perfectly able to continue eating beef, veal just became something very sad to me.
Don't believe me? Check out these photos of a much younger and chubbier Leanna.

Yes, those are jelly shoes...

For those of you who might be upset about this, don't worry. Just buy American-made cheeses(these are made with non-meat enzymes) or kosher cheeses. I wish I knew this back when I kept kosher. I am pretty sure I broke a lot of laws just in the cheese department.

I am going to try to get over this for the sake of learning and realize that all meat I eat was killed so that I could eat it, and at least this animal isn't made to suffer like veal. I'll just keep telling myself that. It still isn't making it easy to sleep at night.

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