Vegan cheese has evolved significantly from its earlier days of being tasteless and unmeltable (or, on the other end of the spectrum, greasy). Modern vegan cheese manufacturers have come a long way from their rubbery, dry, tasteless forebears.
Thankfully, a wide range of delicious alternatives to dairy cheese is available now. When they melt, they have the ideal ooey-gooey texture. And they’re delicious, too, with no need for cows (goats or sheep). This article looks into everything about vegan cheese and some of the best ones on the market.
How Vegan Cheese Is Made
Vegan cheese follows the same basic steps but uses plant-based milk such as soy or almond milk as the main ingredient. Proteins are then separated with the help of bacteria, oils, emulsifiers, and thickeners like tapioca, pea flour, arrowroot, or agar are typically added to the mix to create a cheese-like consistency.
Vegan cheese, like dairy cheese, is aged so that the taste develops, and the texture can become firmer. Both dairy and vegan kinds of cheese are manufactured by separating the proteins in milk and transforming them into a solid state via a series of processes.
Vegan cheese, however, is more similar to processed cheese due to the use of additional thickeners and emulsifiers in its production.
The best vegan cheese is made out of nuts and seeds. It is rich in protein and low in fat and cholesterol, making it very healthy.
There is a wide range of possible flavors, from sharp cheddar, which has a flavor that is bold and intense, to soft, spreadable cream cheese, which has a flavor that is more subdued and tangy.
The texture varies because of different ingredients, including beetroot, which gives the vegan cheese an extra kick and turns the nut paste into a lovely red hue. People who like cheese will enjoy vegan cheese as it is the same as dairy cheese but without harmful dairy cholesterol and animal fat.
Vegan Cheese Styles
There is a vegan version of almost every cheese you can think of. This is helpful for anybody looking to make the switch to plant-based or dairy-free diets in the kitchen. Vegan cheeses are available in most supermarkets; however, the selections can vary:
Shredded vegan cheese is now widely available from many major manufacturers. The most well-liked varieties are undoubtedly mozzarella and cheddar. This variety of vegan cheese is good for sprinkling atop pizza, tacos, potatoes, and casseroles.
2. Cream Cheese
Vegan cream cheese offers incredible versatility, with options ranging from spreads for bagels and sandwiches to snacking cheeses perfect for a quick, satisfying bite. Additionally, plant-based cream cheese can be used to create delightful frostings for cakes and cupcakes, or as a key ingredient in mouthwatering vegan cheesecakes, ensuring that everyone can enjoy these delicious treats.
3. Block and Sliced
There are several vegan choices for block and sliced cheese, including cheddar, smoked gouda, and provolone. They pair well with crackers and sandwiches.
4. Soft Cheese
A variety of vegan cream cheeses, such as ricotta, brie, and camembert, are available to delight those seeking dairy-free alternatives. These plant-based options are crafted from an assortment of ingredients, providing similar taste and texture experiences as their traditional counterparts. Perfect for spreading on crackers, including in recipes, or enjoying on a cheese platter, these vegan cream cheeses cater to a wide range of preferences, making it easier than ever to embrace a cruelty-free lifestyle.
5. Parmesan Style Cheese
Vegan parmesan-style cheese offers a fantastic plant-based alternative for those looking to enhance their favorite dishes, such as pasta, pizza, or popcorn. Crafted from various plant-derived ingredients, this dairy-free option mimics the taste and texture of traditional parmesan, allowing vegans and those with dietary restrictions to indulge in familiar flavors without compromising their ethics or dietary preferences.
6. Nacho Cheese Dips
If you’re a vegan who misses dipping sauces made with cheese, you can now get vegan nacho cheese in stores or create your own using one of several simple recipes found online.
Best Vegan Cheese in the Market
Miyoko’s cheese inspires pleasant dreams. Since 2014, the vegan firm has produced cheeses like mozzarella, cream cheese, pepper jack, and kid-friendly cheddar sticks. The company crafts its plant-based cheese using conventional cheesemaking processes. They also sell cheese wheels!
2. Daiya Foods
This brand sells tasty cheddar shreds and products like mac and cheese plus pizza made with its vegan cheese. Daiya also sells slices that taste like smoked gouda, mozzarella, and Swiss. In addition to cheddar, there are different kinds of shredded cheese, such as parmesan, Mexican four cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, and spicy Monterey jack. They also have vegan string cheese, bringing you the inner kid nostalgia!
Jay-Z has given his stamp of approval to these cheese spreads. Alongside NBA star Chris Paul, the entertainer invested in the Black-owned company that makes the product. Each of the eight flavors, which come in tubs, gives sandwiches, avocado toast, bagels, and flatbreads the texture and flavor that satisfies. Lox and umami-laden Black Truffle are two of the most well-liked flavors.
4. So Delicious
This huge brand is known for producing hundreds of different goods, but the dairy-free shreds deserve special attention due to their exceptional quality. The Mexican-style Shreds are at their best when melted and are the perfect topping for burritos, enchiladas, and nachos; nevertheless, they are tasty enough to eat on your taco salad.
Violife, a popular and widely accessible brand in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe, comes in shreds, slices, and blocks, and its taste can overwhelm and, at the same time, excite consumers. Try the Colby Jack Shreds on homemade nachos the next time you crave comfort cuisine. It’s the bomb.
6. Trader Joe’s
Who would have predicted that Trader Joe’s would have its line of vegan cheeses by 2022? The grocery store sells non-dairy slices and shreds in addition to well-known brands like vegan Boursin and Miyoko’s. TJ’s is now a one-stop vegan cheese store.
Using traditional cheesemaking techniques, Parmela transforms cashews into cultured vegan cheeses with the perfect amount of funk. Try melting the Sharp Cheddar slices over a vegan patty or stacking them on a thick vegan cold-cut sandwich. You’ll definitely want for more.
Although Forager has existed for years, it has recently entered the vegan cheese market. Instead of shreds or slices, this vegan company targeted a unique cheese product: queso fresco. While the product seems like pellets in the package, it melts appropriately and gives enchiladas and chiles Rellenos a gooey, cheesy quality.
More and more vegan cheese choices are getting into the market, making it simpler to adhere to a vegan or other dairy-free diets.
Vegan cheeses are created from a range of plant-based ingredients, such as nuts, soy, seeds, and root vegetables, and are available in almost as many types and tastes as dairy cheese. But not every vegan cheese is the same. Not all variants are created equal; some are overly processed and lack essential nutrients.
Still, like regular cheese, vegan cheese is beneficial when used in moderation, and it’s best to steer clear of highly processed products.
The best option is to choose products made from whole foods. Before making a purchase, always check the label to make sure you’re getting something healthy and good for yourself. You might even try your hand at making your own.