Why Trader Joe's New Spinach And Cheese Lasagna Isn't Vegetarian

There's no denying that lasagna is comfort food at its finest. Layered with pasta, cheese, sauce (usually tomato), and often some type of protein, this warm, well-rounded dish features something for basically everyone. Not only is this crowd-pleasing meal ideal for large family gatherings, but when paired with a glass of wine, it can also easily be elevated to a romantic dinner on a Saturday night.

Both filling and flavorful, lasagna is flexible enough to be adapted into a number of varieties. From kale lasagna and sausage ricotta lasagna to buffalo chicken lasagna and even sweet cookie lasagna, there's a tasty casserole out there for every taste bud. An added bonus? The versatility of this Italian dish makes it easily modifiable to accommodate different dietary restrictions. Cheese can be removed to cater to dairy allergies and meat can be omitted for vegetarians. That said, just because a box of pre-made lasagna does not appear to include meat, it's certainly worth reading the fine print on the ingredient list. Trader Joe's new Florentine Lasagna is a prime example of a lasagna that seems vegetarian ... but actually isn't (via Instagram).

Trader Joe's Florentine Lasagna contains animal rennet

Vegetarians, beware! While Trader Joe's Florentine Lasagna might look like a delicious premade vegetarian meal perfect for a busy weeknight, this dish is not exactly what it appears to be. Instagram user @traderjoesaficionado posted a photo of the product, which they spotted at a California Trader Joe's. The front cover of the box reads: "tender pasta sheets layered between spinach, a blend of cheeses, garlic & herbs." The Instagrammer describes this product as a "veggie lasagna" in their caption, and at first glance the dish seems totally vegetarian — right? While its core ingredients may be cheese, pasta, and vegetables, this frozen casserole has a hidden animal product lurking beneath the layers.

In the comments section, user @aritaylor brought this information to light. "It's not even vegetarian ... it has rennet," the user commented with a sad face emoji. And it's true, in the images posted by @traderjoesaficionado, you can clearly see animal rennet included in the ingredients list as part of Pecorino Romano cheese.

According to The Spruce Eats, rennet is traditionally made with an enzyme taken from the stomach lining of "young goats, calves, and lambs." While animal rennet is commonly used in the cheesemaking process, there are ways to create rennet using vegetarian-friendly ingredients. Unfortunately, Trader Joe's chose to use a cheese that did not do so. If you are abiding by a strictly vegetarian diet, you'll want to avoid picking up Trader Joe's Florentine Lasagna on your next grocery run.