A lot of people say they could never go vegan because they would miss cheese too much. While it’s probably fair to say that vegan cheese doesn’t entirely match up to the dairy version, it has improved rapidly over the last few years in terms of quality, range and availability. There isn’t yet a vegan cheese that melts in quite the same way as the ‘real’ thing but we’re getting close. Read on to find out about the huge variety of vegan cheese.
Popular vegan cheeses
Violife is probably the most popular cheese alternative in the UK. It is made from coconut oil, which makes it better nutritionally than soya based cheeses. Violife has a wide range of products. Their basic cheeses come in around 10 flavours in both blocks and slices, and some are available grated. The ‘Violife for Pizza‘ variety is a good melty cheese that’s great for cooking. They also have spreadable cream cheeses, ‘after dinner‘ cheeses, feta-style, Halloumi-style and a Parmesan alternative.
Bute Island Sheese
Bute Island make the ‘Sheese’ range of products. Recently, they have launched a variety of new flavours and are it the process of reformulating their cheeses to be free from soya. They have various flavours but the Mature Cheddar is probably most popular. Their Greek Style Sheese is a great replacement for feta in salads. The Caramelised Onion Sheese and Wensleydale with Cranberries are excellent on their own.
Follow Your Heart
Follow Your Heart (who also make the very popular Vegenaise mayonnaise) make shredded gourmet cheese – their pizzeria blend is possibly the best vegan pizza cheese out there. Their Gouda and pepperjack style cheese slices are also a very popular choice.
Those are the most common varieties you will find but there are many more. Mozzarisella is a white cheese made from rice. This is the one that Zizzi restaurants are using on their pizzas as it melts very well. Cheezly is another brand that was very popular before being overtaken by Violife, but it still has its fans.
Then there are artisanal vegan cheeses. These are generally made from nuts such as cashew and almonds and use the traditional cheese making process where the nut mixture is fermented with bacteria. Often herbs or other flavourings are added. The end result is a very tasty cheese with an authentic flavour and texture which make great after-dinner cheeses. Naturally these products are more expensive but they are worth it for an occasional treat.
Popular artisanal cheese companies include Tyne Cheese, Nutcrafter, Cicioni and Lettices. If you get the chance to go to a large vegan festival, you will probably find a couple of artisanal cheese makers there. Go and try their free samples!
There are also many alternatives to cream cheese. Tofutti plain cream cheese is good when you are baking a cheesecake or something similar. Creamy Sheese comes in a variety of flavours and is particularly nice – the garlic flavour is excellent for making savoury sauces. Violife’s herb flavour cream cheese is great for spreading.
There are very good alternatives to Parmesan cheese. Violife Prosociano is a wedge of parmesan-flavoured cheese which is a great topping for savoury dishes when grated finely.
Grattugiato is a kind of cheese powder that can be sprinkled onto pasta dishes.
You can also use Engevita (nutritional yeast flakes or ‘nooch’ for short). It so good, we have a whole article about nutritional yeast flakes for you.
Advice for new vegans
There are many types of vegan cheese, too many to list them all here. As with other vegan alternatives, it’s a good idea to try a variety of them to find one you really like. If you don’t like the first one you try, don’t be put off – it may be an acquired taste or it may be that you’ll like a different one much more. If you have just turned vegan you may find that you don’t like vegan cheese at all at first, but by sticking with it then over time your tastes will change and you will start to love it.
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