One of the biggest things that scares people off from going vegan is giving up cheese, and I must admit this was my biggest issue. However, there are several vegan cheese options that can help to ease you into cutting out dairy, and some of them are actually really tasty.
Will it taste like real cheese?
It’s important to note that vegan cheese won’t taste exactly like dairy cheese. This is because of consolidated protein (the curd). The proteins in real cheese physically bond together, which is why there are so many flavours and textures of dairy cheese. Because vegan cheese isn’t modified in the same way as dairy cheese, it doesn’t have the same complex flavours. But there are so many options arising that dairy cheese definitely has rivals.
What are the options?
There are so many choices, from cottage or ricotta cheese to mozzarella or parmesan, you can use vegan cheese substitutes for all of your cheesy needs. This means you don’t have to give up pizza as a vegan, which ultimately is the best possible news. If a cheese is marketed as being vegetarian, make sure you check the labels as some contain casein, which is not vegan.
Nutritional yeast is known to have a cheesy/nutty flavour, and can be bought as powder or flakes. It is also a really great source of B vitamins, protein, zinc, and folic acid. I’d say that nutritional yeast is the best option for adding a cheesy flavour to foods, and you don’t have to add too much to get the flavour. One of the most popular uses of nutritional yeast as a vegan cheese substitute is in mac and cheese, and this is my favourite vegan, gluten-free mac and cheese recipe using nutritional yeast.
Another option for vegan cheese substitutes is tofu, which can be sliced to substitute mozzarella, or silken tofu can be mashed to replace cottage cheese or ricotta. Silken tofu is also really good to use in cheese sauces, meaning that you can use it for pasta sauces or for a vegan fondue. While tofu doesn’t taste like cheese, the texture is very similar. Soy based substitutes, which are similar to tofu (because tofu is also made of soy) provide lots of variety, from cheddar to nacho cheese, and you can get shredded cheese which is perfect for grilled cheeses. In my opinion, this is the best vegan grilled cheese recipe and with the right vegan cheese it is the absolute best comfort food.
An easy DIY vegan cheese option is nut cheese, with the most popular being cashew. The texture of cashew cheese is normally quite similar to hummus, so it works well as an appetiser for dipping pitas, carrot sticks or roasted veggies into. It’s also super easy to make, all you have to do is soak the cashews for at least two hours (up to 10), drain and rinse them, then pulse them in a food processor with whatever extras you fancy. Some of the best additions are nutritional yeast (for the cheesy flavour), lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, or even chilli powder. Add more or less water to the food processor depending on how thick you want the cheese to be. Cashew cheese tends to last up to six days in the fridge!
There are plenty of vegan cheese substitutes, meaning that you don’t have to give up your favourite foods when you give up meat and dairy. Vegan Supplement Store offers a range of vegan supplements to support you through any of your goals.