When it comes to being vegan, what we hear over and again is that cheese is the trickiest thing to let go of. It doesn’t have to be. Shonagh Walker unearths some solutions.
Missing cheese? Don’t stress … there are so many amazing vegan cheeses on the market now, that you never need to miss out, nor do you need to set aside Saturday afternoon to make your own.
1. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds
This mozzarella alternative, found at my local IGA, puts its money where its mouth is. It is just like traditional mozzarella. It melts to perfection, tastes amazing and is perfectly stretchy-stringy, too. I tried it in a toasty and it rocked my melted cheese world. Taste and texture aside, my barometer here is that it’s awesome if my dogs come begging. They were at my feet in seconds.
It does have a slight powdery texture to it, but that’s because it’s based around starches and rice flour, rather than soy. I initially frowned at its high Palm Oil content, however Follow Your Heart has an environmental commitment to use Palm Oil sourced only from farms Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Central and South America, which helps ensure that the Palm Oil is produced in compliance with strict guidelines protecting not only the environment and wildlife, but also workers and the local communities.
2. Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan
I was so fooled by this Parmesan, as was my friend who came for dinner! I cooked a spaghetti Bolognaise using plant-based mince and the entire meal was just like the real thing, only way better as no critters were killed in its making.
As soon as I ripped the lid off the tub, I could smell the sweet, tangy cheesiness that’s so peculiar to Parmesan. I knew I was in for a treat. It added the ideal sharpness to the spaghetti dish and melted exactly how the dairy version of this cheese melts. Also from my local IGA.
3. My Life Bio Cheese Dairy Free Cheddar Flavour Slices
This is vegan and vegetarian friendly, gluten and soy-free, low in cholesterol, Palm Oil-free, Non-GMO, plant-based and made with coconut oil. It gets tonnes of ticks from me, especially as I could easily grab it from Woolworths.
It melted into a beautifully tasty, gooey mess on my cheese and tomato toasty and it sliced well when I used a proper cheese slicer. Not so much with a knife, so it’s lucky that this also comes sliced, which makes the toasty thing a breeze.
My Life Bio also makes vegan cheese in Original flavour, Cheddar Shred and Pizza Shred, as well as a Dairy Free Butter, but disappointingly, Woollies ditched the Cheddar Shred and Dairy Free Butter when it picked up the Pizza Shred for 920 of its stores. Next time you’re in there, be sure to demand these products back. Woolworths, we are so proud of what you’re doing already, and we know you can do more. Come on … we will support you.
4. Culinary Choice Premium Dairy Free Cheese Tomato and Basil
This is tangy and flavoursome, and its texture is lovely. I enjoyed it on a cheese platter, paired with a glass of 2017 Farm Hand Organic Cabernet, which is also vegan-friendly. Best of all, it’s vegan certified and made with coconut oil, potato and tapioca starches, so it takes away any worries you may have had about soy. I picked the cheese up at Woolworths and the wine from the adjacent BWS (Isn’t it great how these major retail chains are picking up on ethical and sustainable products?).
5. Culinary Choice Premium Dairy Free Cheese Hot Pepper
This has a similar texture to its Tomato and Basil counterpart (above) and a fantastic peppery-chilli kick to it. Again, I really enjoyed it with a glass of red, because certain cheeses and wine go together SO well. Seriously if I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was eating a dairy-based cheese. A definite two thumbs up for Culinary Choice from me! Also from Woolworths.
6. Sheese 100% Dairy Free Vegan Matured Cheddar Style Cheese
I placed this on my cheese platter, too (because a cheese platter isn’t a cheese platter without a sharp cheddar). It has a similar crumbly texture to dairy-based cheddar and the same strong flavour. It’s certified vegan and kosher, lactose free, milk-free, gluten-free, GMO-free and soy-free and made with coconut oil and starches. It paired back beautifully with my wine and the other two cheeses and made the platter almost perfect (I’ll let you know when I uncover the best vegan brie). I found this at Woolworths, too.
7. Sheese 100% Dairy Free Vegan Red Leicester Slices
These slices are everything in a toasty! They’re sharp, melt to perfection and create a beautiful gooeyness that is unsurpassed. I also tried a slice on just-baked bread with fresh tomato and soy-mayo and liked it so much that I made another sandwich straight away. Again, from Woollies.