It ain’t easy being cheesy. The baseline for cheese is usually ones that are made with dairy. That’s all well and good, but we want something better!
Enter the world of vegan cheeses. What is vegan cheese? As the name suggests, these are made with zero animal byproducts. No cow’s milk, cream, or anything of the like. All the ingredients come from plants!
There are a couple of concerns most folks have when switching their dairy-based options, and those are taste and texture. When it comes to the latter, there are a handful of products that fail to melt, grate, or crumble the way normal cheese would. We’d argue the same can be said with normal cheese - that some are better than others. That’s why finding the right kind matters! Don’t worry, we'll recommend some for you before we wrap things up.
When it comes to the taste, you get the same experience with the regular and more unique flavor pairings - from herby to smoky. Cream cheese, provolone, brie, feta, gouda, pepper jack, parmesan… Vegan cheese doesn’t just come in a cheddar option. This should convince you to make the switch!
We mentioned how vegan cheese is (of course) made with plant-based ingredients. But….which particular ones?
Your usual base is often made with coconut oil, nuts, oats, and soy. You’d be right in thinking that these usually have neutral, non-overpowering flavors right about now. These ingredients, for the most part, aim to replicate the right texture. If you think about it, it makes sense. You know coconut oil solidifies when cold and melts when put through heat - cheese should do that!
So where does vegan cheese get its flavor? Nutritional yeast is the go-to. This has a cheesy taste already and that blends well with other ingredients that you add like almonds and cashews.
That being said, with ingredients being so accessible, you can totally make batches of vegan cheese at home for yourself. We, like others, still prefer to purchase ours from our favorite brands. Listen, we just don’t have the time and patience to find the right ingredient ratios to make some! Getting ready-made vegan cheeses is just so convenient.
After hearing about coconut oils or other vegetable oils being used to make vegan cheese, the next concern is usually if they are healthy. Let’s put it this way, they aren’t NOT healthy. Let us explain.
Let’s take coconut oil as an example. A lot of brands use it and it is often a source of saturated fats. But eating some vegan cheese won’t immediately put you at risk for cardiovascular disease (which is the usual concern). Plus, the salt and seasoning added to make vegan cheese similar to regular ones also mean that it may have more sodium than your regular variants.
Nutritionally, the scales aren’t even. There are brands that don’t fortify their products with essential nutrients. Dairy-based cheeses just naturally have more calcium and other vitamins when compared to your usual plant-based cheeses. That’s not to saythey don’t come with nutrients, though!
Given all these, we cannot say that vegan cheese is unhealthy. That simply isn’t true! Almonds, oats, coconut oil, cashews, and other plant-based ingredients are already healthy. It’s just a fact. Just remember - When it comes to all kinds of cheese, moderation is key. Too much will obviously be bad for you. But the right amount shouldn’t affect your health negatively.
Plus, what if we simply can’t have dairy? Vegan cheese is a godsend for lactose intolerants. As more and more brands start making plant-based substitutes, you can bet that recipes will keep on improving. We have faith in that!
Time for the fun part! Here are some of our favorites and the types of cheeses we eat most often.
Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Block
Good Planet Foods Smoked Gouda Cheese Wedges
Follow Your Heart Pepper Jack Cheese Slices
For burger-loving vegans, Follow Your Heart’s Pepper Jack Cheese Slices is a must-have. Why stop there? Make more subs, wraps, and sandwiches with this delicious pick.
Miyoko's Creamery Cashew Milk Mozzarella
Pizza. Needs. Mozzarella. Enough said. This Cashew Milk Mozzarella from Miyoko's Creamery has the perfect texture and tastes like a dream.
Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese Block
Grate on top of mac and cheese, slice and add to a sandwich… Follow Your Heart’s Mozzarella Cheese Block is a great all-around cheese for all kinds of recipes.
Violife Just Like Feta
Toss some of Violife’s Just Like Feta on a fresh salad or other Greek-inspired recipes. With this block, you can slice, dice, or crumble as much cheese as you need.
Oatly Cream Cheese
Oatly’s cream cheese comes in a plain and chive & onion flavor. Spread your fave on a toasted bagel and you won’t miss the dairy alternative at all.
Roadhouse Classic Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread
Rich and creamy, Roadhouse Classic’s Sharp Cheddar Cheese Spread can make plain old breadsticks awesome and veggies way more flavorful! Try dipping a freshly-baked pretzel in it!
Vegan Valley Cashew Cheeze Alfredo Sauce