“I could never go vegan because I love cheese too much!” Cry me a river.
Now more than ever, there are some fantastic cruelty-free cheeses coming onto the market. Being afraid to give up cheese is just not a good excuse anymore. That said, stay away from the Daiya shit, I don’t even know how they managed to get stocked in every grocery store, because it literally tastes like plastic goo, and it breaks my heart to think that veg-curious people try it and think that is the only alternative. Here is a quick list of some of the best ones I’ve tried so far, and I definitely haven’t sampled all the options!
Violife – These are by far the most similar to “traditional” cheeses, and they have the best price point (they are about $6.99 per block, and they are a great size). The parmesan grates, melts and tastes nearly identical to “real” parmesan cheese! The gouda is delicious as well, good enough to eat simply by the slice or with crackers. Available at Vegan Supply online and in their Chinatown store.
Blue Heron Creamery – Next up, Blue Heron is my favourite artisan vegan cheese. Chef Karen is an absolute wizard. Her Forest blend is a smokey, creamy bit of heaven that is one of the tastiest things I’ve ever put on a cracker. I’m also obsessed with her “Sea Butter” which is a blue butter with algae and seaweed. Sounds weird, but it makes your toast taste heavenly. I previously purchased her cheese subscription (want to feel like an extreme hipster foodie? Meet a chef in the parking lot of her industrial kitchen to buy a bag of vegan cheese in cash. Nothing to see here, officer…) but she now has a brick & mortar store open Saturdays from 12-5pm at 2410 Main St, in Vancouver.
Miyoko’s – Miyoko’s is a must for me if I’m making a cheese board to serve to friends, vegan and non-vegan alike. The texture is not necessarily reminiscent of traditional cheeses, but not in a bad way, and the flavour is next-level. My favourite is the Smoked Farmhouse. It is very smokey and very tangy. The texture is kind of like chilled peanut butter. Also, the VeganMozz is fantastic, and actually melts on pizza! You can find this at Vegan Supply also, mind you it is quite pricey (fair enough, they have to import it), but if you’re in Bellingham at all, its worth a stop in to Whole Foods to pick a few packages up. ***Honorable mention to their butter as well, it tastes/acts VERY similar to “real” butter.
Parmela Creamery – If you’re making burgers or mac & cheese, this is your cheese. It melts exactly like “real” cheese. The flavour leaves a little to be desired but it is ideal for melting on burgers, or topping a dish of mac & cheese with. Not available in Canada at this point sadly, but can be found at Whole Foods in Bellingham.
Spread Em Kitchen – If you’ve missed bagels & schmeer, look no further. Spread Em cashew cream cheeses are ridiculously delicious. I’m particularly in love with the Jalapeno Lemon Flavour, but the Garlic Chive is a close second. I use them in sandwiches, on bagels, on crackers, and I even made lasagna with the Garlic Chive one. Plus its local! Available at Choices, Nature’s Fare, Whole Foods around Metro Vancouver.
The moral of the story is that there isn’t anything that is EXACTLY like the cheeses we grew up with, but if you can readjust your expectations just a little bit, there are some absolutely delicious alternatives that will beyond satisfy you.
Did I miss your favourite vegan cheese? Are you an alien who actually likes the taste of Daiya? Let me know in the comments below!