Is whey vegetarian

Is sweet whey really vegetarian?

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Image: the Italian voice Image title: Cup of milk, CC-BY

Sweet whey is a dairy product that is made in the manufacture of cheese. Sweet whey is said to have a laxative effect, which is why it is often consumed during what is known as "whey fasting".

Since rennet is used in cheese production, many people wonder whether sweet whey is actually vegetarian. You can find the answer here.

Rennet is a mixture of enzymes extracted from the stomachs of young calves. Rennet is used to separate the milk protein from the whey. This means that the milk curdles and can be skimmed off.


The younger the calves are, the better the dairy can use it. The abomasum of the calves is removed in the slaughterhouse and sold to rennet manufacturers who extract the rennet from it.

Vegetarian products are products for which no animals have been killed. Since rennet comes from the stomachs of dead calves (and the use of rennet makes slaughter more economically viable), products made with it are not vegetarian.

For this reason, sweet whey is not vegetarian (just like all cheeses made with rennet, including many types of cream cheese).


Out of ignorance, many vegetarians still consume products with sweet whey. They just don't know that it will be obtained using Lab. Or they believe that the calves weren't killed directly for the whey, but for the cheese. The fact is that cheese and Sweet whey is only created at the dairy through the use of rennet.

Isn't there also vegetarian rennet?
Rennet can be partially replaced by microbially obtained "rennet substitutes". However, they are not always vegetarian, as albumin from blood is sometimes used as a nutrient medium. There is no such thing as "vegetable" rennet. In the past, however, substances from certain plants were used frequently - today this is only very rarely the case and is practically irrelevant.

Sweet whey (especially sweet whey powder) is not only drunk directly, but is also used as a concentrated ingredient in numerous products. In sweets such as chocolate, pralines, biscuits, certain types of bread and rolls, right up to ready-made meals.


Various soft drinks also contain components of whey. And with so-called whey fasting, sweet whey is drunk, which is low in fat and has a laxative effect due to its high lactose content ("thin whistle").

Did you know that animals don't just have to die for sweet whey - but also for dairy products in general? This is also because dairy cows have to give birth to a calf every year so that the flow of milk does not stop. Read more here!


And even if that sounds a bit gross, it's a fact: cow's milk almost always contains traces of pus and feces. We have created a fact check for this!

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Author: editorial staff