By Cat, The Ivy League Content
If you’ve tried vegan cheese before and found yourself running back to the dairy aisle for some of the real stuff, you might want to read this. Things are changing.
For new vegans just pulling up to the table, this is also for you. Vegan cheese isn’t what it used to be, and it’s easy to get lost in your search for the right one.
All this points to why you need a guide for the modern era. Here it is, updated for all that’s happening in 2017 and beyond in the world of plant-based cheese.
First, What in the World is ‘Vegan Cheese’?
Vegan cheese is any food product that’s designed to resemble and/or taste like cheese. Instead of milk cultures and rennet, producers may use:
– nutritional yeast
– palm oil
– almond milk
Some do contain casein, which is an animal product. If you’re a strict vegan, we’re sure you already know to always check labels.
Because vegan cheese isn’t made with animal fat, it doesn’t melt like the real thing. It also can’t always be substituted in traditional recipes which call for cheese. As you might imagine, vegans quickly become accustomed to experimentation to discover what works and what doesn’t!
Why do People Eat Vegan Cheese?
Bad textures, watery slabs, or rubbery blocks of plant-based cheese substitutes.These aren’t exactly mouth-watering options, especially when you consider what you’re giving up. Nothing melts quite like the real thing. Nothing tastes like it either.
So, why in the world do people eat vegan cheese? Here are a few reasons:
– They’re hard-core vegans, which means eating absolutely no animal-derived products.
– They’re allergic to cheese.
– They’re lactose intolerant.
– They have environmental reasons.
– They have ethical reasons.
– They’re going on a dairy-free cleanse.
– They have health reasons and are seeking low-fat, low-cholesterol, or otherwise healthier alternatives to rich, fatty traditional cheeses*.
Sounds Dismal. Is There Any Hope?
If you think the idea of vegan cheese is anathema to anyone with a good set of taste buds, then you’re not alone. There are a lot of bad options out there giving vegan cheese a very bad name.
There are also some good ones cropping up here and there. So good, in fact, that even non-vegans are buying them.
The ultimate test of whether a vegan cheese is worth its weight in cultures is who ends up buying it. The holy grail in this business is a product so good, everyone’s putting it in their shopping carts.
Vegan Cheese so Good, Everyone’s Buying It
When a vegan cheese gets that good, you can understand why it doesn’t want to be lumped in with the others in the supermarket aisle. That’s fast becoming a reality for some of the better vegan cheeses out there.
Some artisanal vegan cheeses have already won entry to the “real cheese” aisle. That is, they’re not found among the other vegan options in the alternative section of grocery stores.
Of those which have won this coveted spot, there’s one thing they all have in common: a high-tech approach to “cheese” making.
‘Real Vegan Cheese’. There are so-called ‘biohackers’ creating vegan cheese that’s made from real milk proteins but which doesn’t involve a cow. Essentially, it’s lab-grown cheese, technically qualifying as vegan.
Silicon Valley-Backed artisanal cheeses. There are high-tech vegan cheese companies making use of ultra-precise techniques for creating vegan cheese that actually tastes good. It’s usually soft cheese, however. Look in the cheese department at Whole Foods.
The Vegan Cheese Wrap-Up
We hope this mini-guide inspires you to give vegan cheese another try. New products emerging now are truly exciting and represent the future of ethical eating.
In fact, the future looks so tasty we could add one more reason to that list above, which listed why people eat vegan cheese: They’re just looking for something different and tasty. Visit the cheese section in your local grocery store to see what’s there — you just may like what you find!
*Mind you: just because some people eat vegan cheese for health benefits doesn’t mean that all vegan cheese is healthier for you than traditional cheese. Some actually have trans fat, so check labels.
Cat is the owner of Ivy League Content, a Key-West based writing business specializing in research-intensive articles for the web. With a background in linguistics, Cat worked as a University writing teacher before she entered a career in higher ed administration. When the Internet took over the world in the early aughts, she immediately switched to online marketing and writing for the web, and has never looked back.