I have never been a huge fan of cheese, and the one cheese I like is mozzarella. My son likes many types of cheese, and mozzarella is his favorite too. It is only recently that we found out that mozzarella cheese is made using rennet, which is a complex of enzymes from the fourth stomach chamber of a calf. Here is a link to information about rennet. I couldn't digest the fact that young calves were being killed to make cheese. When I was young, my family had cows and we used to treat the cows and their calves as part of the family. The cow will be milked only after the calf had its share and all kids used to love the calves so much. To even think of killing the poor little thing for my cheese is beyond me. Besides, cow is sacred for Hindus and consumption of beef is a strict no.
After hearing this, my son tried researching on cheese made with vegetarian rennet, which comes from certain plants that have the ability to coagulate milk. He found out that certain brands have vegetarian cheeses. For instance, all of Organic Valley's cheeses use only vegetarian rennet. Now the source of vegetarian rennet can be many things ranging from simple fig juice to genetically modified organisms, so going organic would be best here so you avoid GMOs.
It is good to know of these things as many pure vegetarians consume cheese without knowing that it contains animal products like rennet. In fact, Mozzarella is just one example, but most cheese contain rennet, the exceptions being cream and cottage cheese from the main types. So if you are a strict vegetarian, check before you eat cheese. Most cheese in the market will contain rennet and many companies do not require to mention it. This is also true for cheese in pizzas as well.
Now, how about if you could make your own cheese?, that is raw, vegan and paleo as well :-). I am calling it 'Mockzarella'. Obviously it is quick and easy to make. Of course, it can give you the nutritional benefits that your are expecting to get from eating mozzarella. I found this awesome recipe from a blog by a German couple. I am pretty much using their recipe with a slight modification. So here is the Raw Vegan Mockzarella :-). As always try to use all organic ingredients.
- Raw cashew nuts - 1/4 cup
- Pure filtered water - 1/2 cup + 2 Tbs
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice - 2 Tbs
- Psyllium husk - 1 Tbs
- Himalayan pink salt - a small pinch
- Mix the water and lemon juice, mix the psyllium husk into this and let it soak for a couple of hours.
- Soak cashew nuts also for a couple of hours.
- After the soaking, psyllium husk would be thick and gel-like.
- Drain the cashews, add it along with the soaked psyllium husk & liquid, and salt into a blender and blend them well.
- Fill it in a glass jar, depending on what shape you would like your mockarella to be. In about 30 minutes, it should be stiff and sliceable.
- Slice and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
- Serve just as is, top it on your favorite pizza, or serve it on your salad.. be creative.