The whole term ‘vegan cheese’ sounds like a contradiction in itself. You might be wondering how a vegan can eat something made from milk when they are thoroughly against eating any product that comes from an animal. Well, there are actual non-dairy cheeses on the market, as opposed to cows’ or goats’ cheese. However, choosing non-dairy cheese requires care and attention.
A lot of dairy cheeses are made using rennet, which is the process of extracting an enzyme from the stomach of a calf. Although vegan and vegetarian cheeses are made without rennet, some cheeses which are suitable for vegetarianism, including some made from soy milk, can still contain casein or calcium caseinate which is milk protein to give texture to cheeses. The best way to be completely sure you are avoiding animal products, read the ingredients thoroughly and look for the logo from the Vegan Society.
A good range of vegan cheeses are available and the choice is forever growing as more and more people decide, for ethical and health reasons, to give up dairy food and opt for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. That being said though, vegan cheese can be hard to find in just your small local grocery store. The best places to look are specialist cheese shops or big grocery stores. You should also ask because if the demand is great enough, it will have to be met.
A few helpful names to remember when searching for tasty vegan cheese are Tofutti, Cheezly, and Scheese. All of which can be found in store or ordered online. There are plenty of useful websites and books that will contain all the information on where to get the best, certified vegan cheeses as well.
How To Use Vegan Cheese
Vegan cheese can come in soft or hard form and different styles just like regular dairy cheese. You can grate, slice, spread or use as a pizza topping, the only difference to dairy cheese is that the properties are slightly different. Most vegan cheese can be used to replace dairy cheese in traditional recipes. The best thing to do is try them out yourself and find your favorites and them go ahead and begin incorporating them into meals.
Something very valuable to a vegan’s diet is nutritional yeast flakes. They help provide essential nutrients along with the important cheesy taste to many dishes. The flakes are yellow (not to be confused with brewer’s yeast) and can be sprinkled onto mashed potato, for example, to give the cheesy topping desired for your casserole. These flakes are available from healthy food stores or on the internet.
A Tasty Recipe Example of America’s Beloved Macaroni ‘Cheese’
What You Need
3 cups macaroni
½ cup vegan butter
½ cup plain flour
3½ cups boiling water
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
¼ cup oil
1 cup nutritional yeast flakes
What To Do
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F
Cook macaroni as instructed on the packet, drain and set aside.
Melt the butter, stir in flour and mix over low heat until you have a smooth paste. Mix in garlic powder, turmeric, and soy sauce with the boiling water and gradually add to pan, stirring constantly until you have a smooth liquid. Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in the oil and yeast flakes.
Place macaroni in ovenproof dish. Stir in most of the sauce. Pour remaining on top and sprinkle with paprika. Cook for 15 minutes.