Most people find that giving up cheese is the hardest thing to do when switching to a vegan diet. Will you have to say goodbye to the taste of cheese forever? Actually, no, you won’t. In this article, you’ll discover 9 delicious and healthy vegan cheese brands that will satisfy your dairy cravings.
The truth is – there’s a huge variety of vegan cheeses out there. Some of them are so good that you won’t be able to tell the difference from the real thing.
But what is vegan cheese, anyway?
As you know, traditional cheese is a dairy product and is made from milk. But vegan cheese is entirely plant-based and is usually made from either nuts, coconut oil, soy protein and other ingredients.
Most of the times, the key ingredient that makes a vegan cheese taste like traditional cheese is nutritional yeast. In a nutshell, nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast. It’s totally vegan and, yes, it tastes like cheese! You can find nutritional yeast in most health food stores sold in a form of flakes or powder.
Also, it’s possible to make fermented vegan cheeses by adding probiotics or rejuvelac (on-alcoholic fermented liquid made from sprouted grains). Fermented nut cheeses are good for your digestive system because they contain beneficial bacteria and active enzymes.
If the inspiration hits, you can make your own vegan cheese. One of the quickest and easiest ways is making a vegan parmesan which requires only 4 ingredients and is great for sprinkling on pizzas, toasts, salads or pasta.
But if you want to save some time, there’s a huge variety of different brands that make delicious vegan cheeses.
However, there are some brands that make a highly processed vegan cheese to get the flavors and textures as close to the real thing as possible. These type of vegan cheeses are not good for you and most of the times, their ingredient list is as long as a skyscraper.
Luckily, there’s a growing number of brands that are skipping the processed ingredients, and are using more traditional cheese aging methods to make a vegan cheese.
I’ve done the research for you so here are 9 delicious and healthy vegan cheese brands.
1. Treeline Cheese
Treeline is an environmentally conscious company that makes 100% dairy free probiotic cheeses. Their cheeses are free from lactose, casein, gluten, soy and added oils.
The ingredient list of Treeline vegan cheeses is incredibly short (which is a good sign!). Their cheeses are mainly made of Brazilian cashew nuts, probiotics and natural flavorings (herbs, garlic, chilies and other).
This company makes two types of vegan cheeses. One is soft French-style nut cheese that you can spread on your sandwiches, bagels or crackers. And the other is aged nut cheese that’s firm and tangy.
Treeline cheeses are available in about 2,300 stores in the United States.
2. Dr. Cow
Dr. Cow is a vegan cheese business based in Brooklyn, New York. The company is run by Veronica Schwartz and Pablo Castro.
Their vegan cheeses are raw, organic and non-GMO. For the cheese base, they use organic Indonesia cashew nuts, Brazil or Macadamian nuts. Cheese ingredient list is very short and consists mainly of nuts, homemade bacteria, Himalayan salt and natural flavors like algae, kale, hemp seeds and other.
Dr. Cow makes different vegan cream cheeses and aged cheeses. You can buy their cheeses online or in many stores in the United States.
3. Miyoko’s Kitchen
Miyoko’s Kitchen makes handcrafted vegan cheese. The company is founded by Miyoko Schinner and is based in California.
Miyoko’s Kitchen vegan cheeses are gluten-free and made from organic ingredients. The main ingredients in their cheeses are nuts, coconut oil, cultures, and seasoning.
They have a huge variety of cheeses starting from cream cheeses, to mozzarella and aged cheeses. You can find Miyoko’s Kitchen products at retailers around the country or order their cheeses online.
4. Heidi Ho
Heidi Ho is a vegan cheese company based in Portland. It’s founded by Heidi K. Lovig and Lyssa M. Story.
All of Heidi Ho cheese ingredients are certified organic. To make vegan cheeses, they use cashews, hazelnuts, chia seeds and lots of different spices.
They have vegan cheeses that are great for making Mac n’ Cheese, tacos and bases for pizzas. You can order Heidi Ho cheeses online and in my stores in the United States.
5. Kite Hill
Kite Hill is an environmentally conscious company with a dedicated team of vegan cheese makers. They’ve put a lot of effort and time in their recipe testing to make one of the best vegan cheeses.
Kite Hill makes all their vegan products from almond milk. They have cream cheeses, aged cheeses, and even yogurts.
Besides almond milk, their products are made just from a few wholesome ingredients like salt, enzymes, cultures and herbs.
You can buy Kite Hill products at Whole Foods stores nationwide, and other fine retailers around the United States.
6. Punk Rawk Labs
Punk Rawk Labs is a Minnesota-based company founded by Alissa Barthel. The company makes handmade artisanal nut milk cheese.
To make vegan cheese, they use a process similar to traditional dairy fermentation. They use only simple, organic ingredients like cashews, water, culture, and salt.
On their website, they have 5 different cheese flavor available. You can order Punk Rawk Labs products online and in many vegan stores across the United States.
7. Vtopian Artisan Cheeses
Vtopian Artisan Cheeses is a company based in Portland, Oregon. Their founder and co-owner Imber Lingard is a long-term vegan and she used to struggle with finding an excellent artisan vegan cheese to put on a vegan platter. That’s what inspired her to create Vtopian Artisan Cheeses.
They have a wide range of different cultured cashew cheeses like aged cheddar, peppercorn brie, and chive & dill wedge. Main ingredients in their cheeses are nuts, coconut oil, and seasoning.
You can buy Vtopian Artisan Cheeses online or in some health food stores in the United States.
8. Parmela Creamery Vegan Cheese
Parmela Creamery makes nut milk cheeses using traditional cheese making techniques. As a base for vegan cheese, their cheese makers blend cashews and almonds with filtered water. Then they add cultures and let the cheese sit and develop unique flavors.
They have a wide variety of vegan cheeses including creamy tree nut cheeses, aged nut milk cheeses, and nacho cheese sauces.
You can find Parmela Creamery vegan cheeses in Whole Foods, other natural food stores or buy online.
9. Sister River Foods
Sister River Foods is a family owned business. One of their products is a delicious vegan parmesan cheese Parma! that they started to make back in 2000.
At the moment, they offer three different flavors of their vegan parmesan – Original Parma!, Chipotle Cayenne and Garlicky Green. As a base for the parmesan, they use walnuts and different natural seasoning to add the flavors.
You can order Parma! online or buy in many health food stores in the United Stated, Canada and Europe.
As you can see, there’s a big variety of healthy vegan cheeses to choose from. With these delicious vegan cheeses, you won’t miss the traditional cheese at all!
What are the common base ingredients used in making vegan cheese?
Vegan cheese can be made from a variety of plant-based ingredients. Common bases include nuts like cashews and almonds, coconut oil, soy protein, and tapioca flour. These ingredients are often blended with nutritional yeast, herbs, and spices to create the desired flavor and texture.
How does vegan cheese compare to traditional dairy cheese in terms of nutritional value?
It typically contains less saturated fat and cholesterol than dairy cheese, making it a heart-healthy option. However, it may also contain less protein and calcium. The nutritional profile of vegan cheese can vary widely depending on the ingredients used, so it’s advisable to check the nutritional information on the packaging or consult with a nutritionist if specific dietary needs must be met.
Can I make vegan cheese at home, and is it a complicated process?
Yes, this is possible and can be a fun and rewarding experience. While some recipes may require specialized ingredients like agar-agar or specific cultures, many simple recipes use readily available ingredients like nuts, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. The complexity of the process can vary, ranging from quick and easy spreads to more involved aged cheeses that require fermentation.
How do I store vegan cheese, and what is its shelf life?
Should be stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped to prevent drying out. Store-bought vegan cheese will have an expiration date on the packaging, while homemade generally lasts about 1-2 weeks in the fridge. Some vegan cheeses can also be frozen to extend their shelf life, but it’s best to consult the packaging or recipe for specific storage instructions.
Are there any common misconceptions about vegan cheese?
One common misconception is that all vegan cheeses taste the same or that they lack the complexity and richness of dairy cheese. In reality, they offer a wide variety of flavors and textures, from soft and creamy to firm and tangy.
Another misconception is that vegan cheese is automatically healthier than dairy cheese. While it may offer certain health benefits, not all vegan cheeses are created equal, and some may contain highly processed ingredients. As with any food product, it’s essential to read labels and make informed choices.
In conclusion, embracing a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up on the creamy, tangy delight that is cheese. With an array of vegan cheese brands available, you can enjoy the same diverse flavors and textures that traditional dairy cheeses offer. From the sharpness of cheddar to the smoothness of cream cheese, these plant-based alternatives have got you covered.
Whether you’re a long-time vegan, considering a plant-based diet, or simply curious about vegan alternatives, these vegan cheeses offer a delicious and healthy option. They not only cater to your taste buds but also contribute to a more sustainable and compassionate world. So, go ahead and explore these brands. You might just find your new favorite cheese!