Who said vegans can’t eat cheese? They just can’t eat dairy cheese, that’s all.
What is vegan cheese made of?Non-vegan cheese comes from cows, goats or sheep milk. Meanwhile, vegan cheese is a plant-based product made from vegetable proteins, including soy and cashew nuts or vegetable oils, such as coconut oil. It’s not uncommon for vegan cheese to be made from food sources, such as tapioca, peas and arrowroot either.1
How is vegan cheese made?
It’s essentially produced by taking the plant source, e.g. the cashew nuts or the tapioca, and combining it with lactic bacteria, as well as oils, emulsifiers and thickening agents (the latter tends to be used to create a firmer end product). Early vegan cheese production involved using lots of different ingredients to get the taste and texture more cheese-like. However, processes have evolved and tend to involve just nut milks, enzymes and salt, as well as traditional cheese ageing and bacterial culturing methods. 2
What does vegan cheese taste like?Well, it’s a common fact vegan cheese doesn’t melt like dairy cheese does.3 Meanwhile, vegan cheese manufacturers are working hard to produce cheese substitutes that rival dairy cheese in the taste and texture stakes. However, it’s worth noting here that because ‘real’ and vegan cheese involve very different ingredients, and vegan cheese doesn’t contain curd, which gives dairy cheese its unique flavour, it’s not possible to produce exactly the same thing.4 But it hasn’t stopped vegan cheese manufacturers from continuing to review and refine their products to achieve dairy-free cheese perfection.
Some dairy-free cheese ideas to get you started….
1. Vegan mac and cheese
- 360g peeled, chopped potatoes
- 135g peeled, chopped carrots
- 85ml extra virgin olive oil
- 125ml unsweetened plant milk
- 8 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Boil the potatoes and carrots in a pan until soft.
- In the meantime, cook the pasta, drain and set it to one side.
- Pop all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Combine the pasta and blender ingredients and serve.5
2. Vegan parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
MethodPut everything into a food processor and blend until fine. Keep in the fridge to keep it fresh!6
3. Cashew cream cheese
- 250g cashews
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Chopped chives (optional)
- Put the cashews in a bowl, cover with water, wrap the bowl with cling film and leave to soak for four hours or overnight.
- Drain the cashews, put them in a food processor with the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and water. Blend until smooth.
- Put the cashew cheese into a different dish or bowl and stir through the chives. Put in the fridge and consume within three to four days.7
4. Garlic and herb vegan cheese
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder (plus more to taste)
- 1 medium lemon, zested
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- ½ to ¾ cup water
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Put the cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Drain the cashews and put them in a food processor with the minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil.
- Blend until smooth.
- Place a strainer/colander over a large mixing bowl and layer it with two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean, fine, absorbent towel)
- Scoop all of the cheese over the cheesecloth, then gather the corners and twist the top gently to form the cheese into a disc. Secure with a rubber band.
- Put in the fridge to set for 12 hours.
Vegan cheese brands
If you haven’t got the time to make your own vegan cheese or whip up a vegan cheese recipe, or you simply don’t fancy it, then you could always buy some ready-made vegan cheese instead. There are all sorts of different brands to choose from, including Violife, which we stock in some of our stores. Other options include, Follow Your Heart, Bella Cheeze, Daiya and Koko.8
Last Updated: 22nd September 2020