What Is Vegan Cheese, Exactly?

Even if you’re following a vegan or plant-based diet, if you have a need for cheese, you may not have to forgo it entirely. While conventional cheese is produced from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep, a growing number of substitutes derived from nuts, nutritional yeast, and vegetable oils are becoming available. Cheese has arrived in the dairy-free world thanks to advances in food technology, human creativity, and the growing popularity of vegan diets. How does vegan cheese work and what do you need to know before giving it a go are two important questions to ask yourself. But what is vegan cheese and what should you know before trying it?

Discover how vegan cheese is produced if it is nutritious, and how it tastes. Additionally, learn about our top vegan cheese companies.

If you’re vegan or plant-based yet want cheese, you may not have to. While conventional cheese is produced from cow, goat, or sheep milk, newer options include almonds, nutritional yeast, and vegetable oils. Thanks to culinary science, human creativity, and the popularity of vegan diets, dairy-free cheese has arrived. But what is vegan cheese and what should you know before trying it?

What Is Vegan Cheese, Exactly? - Alexandra Andersson
What Is Vegan Cheese, Exactly? – Alexandra Andersson

What Is Vegan Cheese Made Of?

Vegan cheeses are composed entirely of plant proteins. They’re usually composed of soy, nuts (like cashews and macadamias), and oils (like coconut oil). Agar, tapioca, peas, and arrowroot cheeses are also available.

Some vegan cheeses’ ingredient lists may raise eyebrows among those seeking to consume clean and less processed meals. Many have starches and thickeners like carrageenan and xanthan gum.

What Is Vegan Cheese?

When vegan cheesemakers first started making vegan cheese, they wanted it to appear like regular cheese. But they soon discovered it wasn’t enough. They had to find out how to make the vegan cheese melt over toast and taste like a genuine thing.

Vegan cheese is made in a similar manner to conventional cheese, but without the use of animal milk.

Bacteria separate plant proteins. A cheeselike consistency is achieved by adding oils and thickeners.

Time is required for delicious vegan cheese, much as conventional cheeses. The bacteria and vegetable protein sit and break down. Unlike animal proteins in dairy cheeses, vegan proteins do not spontaneously bind. As a consequence, tastes are less complex and distinct.

Vegan Cheese Has a Cheese-Like Taste?

The main difference with dairy-free cheese is that it doesn’t melt as well. Vegan cheese doesn’t have the same ooey-gooey texture as regular cheese. Remember that every brand is unique, so if you don’t like one, don’t give up on the others. Vegan cheesemakers are always developing innovative methods to make vegan cheeses taste more like conventional cheeses.

Is Vegan Cheese Good?

You may not need to avoid ordinary cheese due to saturated fat. Recent study suggests cheese may help prevent diabetes and heart disease. The fat, protein, and calcium content of vegan cheeses is usually lower than normal cheese. Because vegan cheese is a manufactured product, its salt content varies. Vegans cannot depend on vegan cheese as a protein source, as vegetarians do. While it’s not as healthy as kale or lentils, vegans may enjoy pizza, grilled cheese, and queso dip again.

Which Vegan Cheese Brands Are Best?

We asked vegan cookbook author Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen and blogger Ilene Godofsky Moreno of The Colorful Kitchen for their top picks for vegan cheeses. What they said:

  • Vegan Parmesan Cheese: Burton adds businesses like Parma make basic shakers with nutritional yeast and almonds, while Violife makes more authentic-looking shreds and wedges.
  • Vegan Mozzarella Cheese: “Miyoko’s Kitchen Fresh Italian-Style Vegan Mozz is the genuine thing,” says Moreno. “It’s wonderful fresh in a caprese salad or melted over pizza.” It is a great replacement for mozzarella, says Burton.
  • Vegan Cheddar Cheese: Moreno’s favorite vegan cheddar is Daiya Cheddar shreds, which melt well when grilled or combined with spaghetti. Burton recommends Follow Your Heart and So Delicious for melty vegan cheeses.
  • Vegan Ricotta Cheese: In Moreno’s opinion, Kite Hill has perfected the texture of vegan ricotta cheese. “My mom just began using Kite Hill’s vegan ricotta in her renowned lasagna, and no one in my family noticed!”
  • Vegan Cream Cheese: Burton suggests Toffuti and Go Veggie for soy-based cream cheeses, as well as premium nut-based cream cheeses.

If you’re looking for a fun Friday night pastime, purchase a couple of gourmet cheeses and make your own cheese plate.

“I believe artisanal cheeses are the greatest depiction of plant-based cheese,” Burton adds. “They have amazing taste variations and textures that match dairy cheeses.” She suggests Treeline, Dr-Cow, and Punk Rawk Labs.

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