Everything You Need To Know About Vegan Cheese
Going vegan requires that you give up some things—think butter, fresh goat cheese, and more. But just because you’ve gone vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all of your favorite foods covered in cheesy, cheesy goodness. Mac and cheese, homemade pizza, eggplant parm. Nom nom nom.
Vegan cheese (commonly referred to as “cheeze” or “cheez”) can enhance any of your favorite meals and has come a long way as far as taste and affordability, but what exactly is it?
Geek Out With Your Vegan Cheese Out
Like many of your other favorite vegan substitutes, vegan cheese is often made of a compound of soy, various plant proteins, oils like coconut oil, and nut milk (like almond milk) or oat milk. The process can be similar to that of traditional dairy cheese.
Nuts (commonly used are macadamias, almonds, and cashews) are “milked” and processed to thicken (using thickening agents like agar-agar, xanthan gum, potato protein, etc.) and then shaped into the vegan cheese we know and love.
Back in the day, we were basically limited to the sliced option that didn’t melt and tasted a bit like the plastic it came wrapped in. The cheeze we have readily available online and in your local grocery store is a far cry from those orange plastic sheets of who-knows-what we used to eat.
Now that manufacturers have fine-tuned the process and are coming up with new ideas and processes every day, we have so many cheeses to choose from. Here are some options we high-key love!
Did someone say mini pizzas? With choices like sharp cheddar, mozzarella, smoked gouda, and various flavor blends, you can easily add shredded vegan cheese on top of just about anything.
Shredded vegan cheese (A.K.A. shreds) is often made with nuts, as mentioned above, and can be eaten cold or warmed up to add that melty factor to your meals that you may be missing when you’ve tried vegan cheese recipes in the past.
This shredded version of cheese can now stretch and melt when heated up and give you all of the texture of an old-school home-cooked meal made with real cheese.
A grilled cheese sandwich? Yes, please! Nachos? Bring them on. There are so many sliced dairy-free cheese flavor options now that you will never get bored. We have soy-based and soy-free options and are made with things like vegetable proteins and enzymes.
We recommend keeping an eye out when selecting a cheese made with soy milk. Some are still made with milk-based ingredients like casein (hard pass), so look for that vegan seal of approval or read the ingredients on the label before you buy!
With plenty of options out there for veggie burgers and meatless patties, being able to add your favorite sliced vegan cheese on top really ups your BBQ game. Invite your non-vegan friends over, too, because we promise they will not be able to tell the difference.
Bagel and schmear with your cold brew: chef’s kiss! This creamy option can be used to make vegan cheese sauce, mac and cheese, cheesecake, frosting, and so much more!
Like traditional cream cheese, the vegan versions come in tubs and can be used in just about any recipe called for cream cheese. It is often made with the same ingredients as other cheese substitutes and can use things like coconut cream or milk to make the consistency legit.
Try melting a slice of vegan gouda on top of your bagel and vegan cream cheese with some red onion and tomato. Or mix it into a dip and serve with tortilla chips. You can thank us later!
Blocks or Wedges
Tonight calls for wine and a vegan grown-up Lunchable: Charcuterie! What better way to chill than to create your own date night at home with a classy board?
Blocks of cheese are a staple in any American home, and yours should be no different. These vegan versions are super versatile. You can crumble them, shred them, slice them and dice them!
We recommend slicing up a few different flavors like provolone and Colby jack and pair them with your favorite veggie pepperoni, veggie salami, crackers, and vegan honey. Sprinkle some fresh herbs on the plate, and your presentation will be spot on. Perfect for a date night in or some Netflix and Zoom with friends.
You can literally sprinkle this ish on top of anything. Nutritional yeast usually comes in a bag or shaker and has a flaky or powdery consistency that will blend into any dish you’re making. Yes, yes. We know it looks like fish food, but we promise it’s amazing!
If we really want to geek out, we need to get sciency for a minute. Nutritional yeast is similar to the yeast used to make your favorite beer or bread, but is deactivated in its final steps of processing. This means the yeast will no longer affect how the other ingredients react to each other and cannot be used as a leavening agent.
Nutritional yeast has a cheesy, nutty flavor that is packed with hella health benefits. Check your brand’s label for specifics, but you can count on a serving being low in calories, high in fiber, containing a variety of B vitamins (we’re talking B1, B2, B6, B9, and B12), being low in fat, and sugar-free!
There are even options that have been fortified for even more health benefits, so keep an eye out when shopping. We love to sprinkle it on top of an old-school carrots and broccoli cheese bake that’s loaded with garlic or add it to popcorn for a salty, tangy flavor!
Snacks That Slap
Sometimes living a vegan lifestyle makes you feel like you are constantly cooking. While we love all of the vegan cheese options to cook with, sometimes we just want someone else to put in the work.
Luckily, our team here at Outstanding Foods has some incredible snack options to choose from. Now we can just pop open a bag and get on with our day. Do you have time to stop and cook when binge-watching the latest season of The Bachelor? We don’t either!
It makes us so happy to know we’re not wasting time reading nutrition labels, trying to decipher ingredients, and know if what we’re getting is really vegan. Finding something cheesy and delicious is now at our fingertips. Outstanding Puffs are sure to become one of your personal faves!
Get Your Health On
While many of us are going vegan to save our cute, non-human friends, lots of people make the transition simply for health purposes. There is a lot of information out there on whether or not a vegan lifestyle is healthier than an omnivore one, but we believe the short answer is: Yes. Yes, it is.
Like all things, you want to keep your processed food intake to a reasonable level. However, that does not mean that all processed food is bad for you and that all non-processed food is good. Take these vegan cheeses, for example. Sure, they have all been processed and contain items you may find in a molecular gastronomy lab, but compared to their dairy cheese counterparts, the nutritional labels don’t lie. Vegan cheese is low in saturated fat, contains no trans fat, is gluten-free, and has no cholesterol.
Vegan cheese is not only a great option for vegans and vegetarians, but it can help satisfy peoples’ needs who have other health concerns. Many people now live a gluten-free lifestyle due to conditions like Crohn's Disease, inflammation, and gluten allergies.
Guess what? Here’s some vegan cheese! Do you have high cholesterol but can’t stand skipping out on your favorite cheesy meals? Boom! Vegan cheese. What about those who are lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to dairy? Holla! Vegan cheese.
To Cheese or Not To Cheese?
So what do we think, fam? Do you want to keep vegan cheese and snacks in your rotation? Does it sound worth making the switch? Have we learned enough about our options? Yeah, we think so too.
Many vegans opt for this lifestyle because they care about where their food comes from and what’s in it. That thirst for knowledge shouldn’t stop once you make the transition. Continue to care. Continue to research. Continue to encourage your friends and family to be conscious of what they put in their bodies.
Being a vegan doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be tough. With things like the various versions of vegan cheese (say that five times fast) and easy grab-and-go snack options, like Outstanding Puffs, going vegan is a breeze. Apparently, you can have your cheese and eat it too!
Everything You Need to Know About Vegan Cheese | Peta
A Guide to Vegan Cheese: What's the Best Dairy-Free Option? | Healthline
Nutritional Yeast: Is It Good for You? Pros and Cons, Nutrition Information, and More | WebMD
Are Non-Dairy Cheeses Really Healthier? | Ardmore Institute of Health