Is Grana Padano Vegetarian?

Grana Padano is hard, Italian cheese that was made in the Po River Valley. Grana Padano falls into the nutty profiled cheese. In simple words, everything in its taste ingredients is demonstrated in a far more gentle way than its counterpart, the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 

But someone who is strictly vegetarian can have a common concern- is Grana Padano vegetarian?

No, if your Grana Padano contains calf rennet since it’s a part of an animal. If the Grana Padano you choose doesn’t contain rennet, it can be your trophy cheese. Alongside that, if the label contains traditional rennet, that is also suitable for vegetarians. Because traditional rennet includes thistle, plant, and vegetarian rennet which are basically fine for vegetarians. 

This is just the beginning part of keeping your confusion clean regarding the world of Grana Padano cheese. Why don’t you find out more by keeping reading further? 

What Ingredients Are in Vegan Cheese? Can Grana Padano Consider a Vegetarian’s Choice?

There is a popular misconception about vegan cheese on which you may also fall. Some people may convince you that coconut oil is everything for vegan cheese.

Sorry to say, but that’s wrong you shouldn’t believe in any form. Yes, coconut oil is necessary, but mostly for the cheese that is sold in supermarkets, which is only a small fraction of vegan cheese sold around the world.

Below is the breakdown of the base ingredients that are used to make the most common vegan cheese. 

Name of the IngredientsThe Amount Used in The Cheese
Coconut Oil450

What we are getting from the table is, on a survey of almost 1700 cheeses in the retail and supermarkets, the most common ingredient that is used to make vegan cheese is cashew and following that is coconut oil.

You may think that all the ingredients here are used in the making process of vegan cheese but actually, different vegan cheese consists of different prime ingredients. 

Usually, vegan cheese is more sustainable compared to dairy cheese, for we all know that foods that are plant-based require less water and less land.

Grana Padano in vegetarian’s diet

vegetable salad with Grana Padano cheese on top

You may be lucky enough to find “For Vegetarians” labeled Grana Padano cheese, but the style these cheese companies follow to make this cheese cuts out a lot of the original recipe of Grana Padano.

Making Grana Padano is still one of the most classic and unique processes and these traditions are only being followed by certain regions. The reason for explaining it is because there is a term called P.D.O (Protected Designation of Origin) which refers to a status that is being given to only a handful of regions that can actually make Grana Padano preciously.

However, following the legal and certain methods of making this cheese contains using animal rennet. This is a must for this cheese-making procedure.   

Since animal rennet has to be put in the 100% original Grana Padano production process and this method is protected to bring the original flavor of cheese, this version of Grana Padano is not an appropriate choice for vegetarian cheese lovers.

However, this cheese-making process does have some benefits. All the cheese is made almost entirely using milk and the way Grana Padano cheese is being made indicates the cheese is certainly lactose-free.

A little overview of Grana Padano’s recipe  

The main ingredient or the secret to all these tastes comes from raw milk. Skimmed cow milk is unpasteurized to bring the main shape of this cheese.

For this reason, it can mature pretty quickly. So quickly that it only has to be nine months old enough before the maker can sell it in the market. But alongside that, you can also find Grana Padano cheese in 16 and 20 months old categories. These vintage cheeses took longer to develop their taste hence ensuring you get the premium taste from these. 

Steps of Making Grana Padano Cheese

First Step

  • The cook needs to gather the fresh skimmed milk into a big jar.
  • Then he has to pour it into a traditional copper cauldron.
  • Then he has to put rennet, followed by whey, and mix it which develops the curd for the cheese.

Second Step

  • After the curd is made, he has to break it with a giant whisk which is also called Spino.
  • The Spino needs to be heated and rested to mount into a special wheel called a Fascera.
  • With the help of this mount, he will bring it into a wheel shape.

Third Step

  • The wheel needs to spend at least two weeks soaking in brine
  • During this process he has to salt the cheese.
  • When the above process is done, the wheel needs to be dried enough to start the important aging process.

Final Step

  • When the aging process is completed, the cook needs to inspect it for texture with the aging wheel.
  • After all the process is completed, the golden rounds are flavored with aroma before finally being presented before the world.  
  • At the present time, as Grana Padano has been protected with its origin status (PDO), it can only be prepared in some selective areas of northern Italy by following this traditional method. 

Does Grana Padano Contain Eggs and Milk?

Yes, Grana Padano uses egg and milk. For this, it’s a useful substitute for vegetarians and non-vegetarian to get an adequate amount of protein for their daily diet chart.

While producing, Grana Padano uses silage feed that can help to develop microorganisms (they can destroy the characteristics of the product). For this reason, Grana Padano has lysozyme which comes from egg protein.

It clears out harmful microorganisms and their further development. The milk that is used to make this cheese is collected from the Cows that are fed with fresh forage, corn silage, and hay naturally.  

How Can You Tell If A Cheese Is Vegetarian?

Usually, rennet is the only animal part that is used to make cheese; you can know about it just by reading the labels. Rennet is used to make the milk protein casein part thick and make the cheese hard. But there are some cheese manufacturers who use plant rennet to make the cheese suitable for vegetarians.

However, there are some other ways by which you can tell the cheese doesn’t contain any kind of rennet.

  • If the cheese is soft, there is a high possibility that no rennet is being used to make that cheese.
  • If you’re a vegetarian, avoid buying parmesan, blue cheese, and feta since they are most likely to have rennet.
  • Read the labels carefully before buying any cheese except paneer and cottage cheese. Because there is no animal ingredient in the process of making these cheeses.

Which Cheese Are Vegetarian?- A Quick Look

Cheese TypeVegetarian or Non-Vegetarian?
Grana PadanoNon- VegetarianThe classic recipe includes rennet in the process of manufacturing this cheese.
ParmesanNon- VegetarianThe name Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan cheese means the use of animal rennet.
MozzarellaNon – VegetarianIf you are planning to get the original, authentic version of this cheese, then you have to leave being a vegetarian.
CheddarNon- VegetarianOther than you are planning to consume plant-based rennet, this is not vegetarian-friendly cheese.
ManchegoNon- VegetarianRaw sheep milk and other natural ingredients make it completely gluten-free. 
PecorinoVegetarian to some extent, you will find vegan options in this category but the original recipe contains animal rennet. 
RomanoNon- Vegetarian This is another traditionally used animal rennet cheese, where sheep and goat milk is the prime ingredient.
SwissNon- VegetarianThis is totally restricted for vegetarians since a lot of animal parts are used in it.

Vegetarian Substitutes for Grana Padano Cheese

Grana Padano falls between the sweet and savory dishes. But there are some alternatives if you don’t have any Grana Padano cheese available around. These options vary from product to product but they are a great substitute.

Asiago Fresco

An Italian-originated cheese that is also called Italian cow’s milk cheese tastes similar to Grana Padano. It’s cheaper than Grana Padano because it has fewer holes than Grana Padano and the taste is not as great because it has only a three months aging process.

Parmigiano Reggiano

It’s made from northern Italy cow’s unpasteurized milk and like Grana Padano, it has a nutty flavor in it as well. But it’s mostly used for salad and pasta dishes since the full taste also differs from Asiago Fresco. It’s aged for 12 months and certified since 1996.

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

It’s a great vegetarian cheese made from nutritional yeast, spices and almonds. You will get a light taste of Grana Padano cheese but it’s much healthier than other regular cheese since it’s made from different vegan ingredients. It doesn’t contain any dairy in it.  


Can I get Grana Padano cheese without rennet?

Yes, there are some cheese brands that make Grana Padano cheese without rennet, but since the original recipe contains animal rennet, those aren’t actually called Proper Grana Padano cheese.

However, you can try Grana Padano Tipo, which is made with a modified enzyme. Many leading vegetarian restaurants use this cheese as it can give you the full flavor of Grana Padano.

What health benefits does Grana Padano cheese have?

Grana Padano has low calories and low fat thanks to its natural way of making. It’s also naturally lactose free and filled with minerals like zinc, magnesium and copper. Vitamin B complex, E and D are also present in this cheese. 50g Grana Padano can deliver 60% daily necessities for adults and 50% for adolescent’s requirements.

Grana Padano or vegetarian cheese, which is better for health?

Since both cheeses are high with nutritious value, there is no absolute winner. Both Grana Padano and vegetarian cheese are high in calcium and protein but vegetarian cheese is 75% more cholesterol free whereas Grana Padano has more Vitamin A and Vitamin B12 than vegetarian cheese. So two cheeses serve two different nutritious values.


Now we believe all of your confusion regarding Grana Padano and Vegetarian cheese have been flushed away. If you really want to taste authentic Grana Padano cheese, then you have to consider the rennet part. If you are a vegetarian, then there are other options available in the market which give you a better nutritious value similar to Grana Padano.

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