Welcome to my massive vegan cheese guide! Cheese is one of the biggest issues for non-vegans it seems. Folks often say “I could never in a million years give up cheese!” or “I just can’t imagine a life without cheese!!” and so on. I’ll leave out my pointed comments about what kind of person measures their life happiness in terms of blocks of condensed lactose, but luckily manufacturers have also caught on to the pleas of the cheese-lovers and vegan cheese is one of the largest and fastest growing areas within the “health food” sectors.
I want to state that I wasn’t a massive cheese fan during my veggie years (scandal, I know) but R-Dawg was a hardcore lard fanboy. If there’s one thing that boy loves it’s a well-constructed cheese board. So in the last few years I’ve tried endless amounts of vegan cheese and I thought I’d create a round-up of the good, the great, and the spreadable. Please note none of this post is sponsored!
Side note: If you’re a new non-dairy person then I strongly advise reading reviews/asking vegans instead of randomly buying cheeses to try them out. It would be awful to start off with a crap cheese (there’s a few) and assume all vegan cheese is a total shitshow. Where can I find a decent vegan cheese guide from an impartial and honest source I hear you ask? Read on pal.
This is a great all-purpose cheese. If any of you have ever bought a block of Sainsbury’s value cheddar and used it for errthing (e.g. on crackers, in sandwiches, by the slice) then this is a good vegan option. I particularly love it grated on jacket potatoes – it melts pretty well. Also a good option on a cheese board as everybody is bound to love it. The white cheddar version of this has won loads of awards (but I’m sticking with red).
For me this is kind of a bland cheese but I’m mentioning it as, like the above, it’s another great “let’s ease ourselves into veganism” cheese. It’s long-lasting, versatile and inoffensive – my Mum has two blocks in her fridge at all times. Violife specialise in vegan cheese and there’s something in their range for everyone. Violife Original is available at most supermarkets now (including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s). Similar to the Cheezly cheddar above, this cheese is great as a multi-purpose option if you’re on a budget and can’t afford to keep five different types of cheese in the fridge. (HAI). This cheese also melts well once grated.
Let’s just take a moment for the extremely lol name (Original Creamy is my rap alias). I find this cheese is not actually as spreadable as it looks and is more akin to a soft white cheese. Maybe like a soft goats cheese or something? You can see in the picture that I’ve sliced it – it’s very mild and very soft. A good option for sandwiches or with bagels for breakfast/an alternate to cottage cheese. I am beyond pissed off at that blurry packaging picture.
If you like smoked cheese in general then this is great, if not, avoid. I’m partial to a smoked cheese so this was a DELIGHT for me; Ryan, not so much. Anyway. Tyne use cashew nuts – if you have a nut allergy (I feel bad for ya son) then there will be slight limits on your vegan cheese options. This is quite a firm, hard cheese. I’d put this on my “gourmet cheese list” rather than your everyday cheeses. The Tyne Chease website, by the way, is a thing of beauty and dreams. Would that I were rich enough to buy myself a hamper of every single product listed…!!! Please hit me with your favourites from their range for the next time we shop there.
Vegusto have a massive range of vegan cheeses and I’ve covered some of them before (here). Ryan got the walnut one for Christmas as part of a massive vegan hamper from my Mum. I’d classify this as a “fancy” cheese – too nice to be melted on potatoes or shoved into a sandwich. Great for cheese boards, impressing carnivore parents and savouring. It has a nutty taste (obviously) so if you don’t like cow cheese with “nutty” flavours then you probably won’t like this. I love it and Ryan’s kind of in-between. I should also point out that this melts really nicely, although the nuts don’t melt (duh) so… be warned if you end up eating nuts on toast or something.
So apart from feta, the only cheese I ate on the regular during my dairy days was cranberry wensleydale. I ADORE cranberries. This Sheese variant is slightly less… sticky… than I remember cow cheese being. I also find it a little crumbly for my liking – although let’s be honest, that’s part of the problem with cheese overall. This is a great substitute. We snuck some onto a dairy cheese board over Christmas for our parents/parents friends and nobody could tell the difference.
The beady-eyed amongst you will notice I’ve photographed the standard cheddar slices. Please note that smoked ones have a brown wrapper! I’ve lost the wrapper so here’s the standard cheddar ones (still good). These are my favourite of the pre-sliced cheese. The smoked ones are pretty flavourful and excellent on burgers (they melt slightly if you put them straight on the burger from the oven), or in sandwiches. These don’t melt well on “warm” foods, it needs to be piping hot.
I’ve posted about this brand before – hands down the best vegan cheese on the market. Why they aren’t on every “Best Of” list is anybody’s guess! My original post included samples, but I’m including them again as I genuinely think this is the best cheese I’ve ever had. And I was NOT a gourmet cheese person at any point in my life. I wouldn’t recommend these cheeses for cooking, or melting on something else. Just sit back with a slice and savour the cheese.
Again, here’s my longer review of Vegusto cheeses where I previously discussed the Piquant. This is my favourite of the Vegusto cheeses. It’s versatile enough for cooking, everyday meal-making but it’s got a strong flavour and works well on a cheese board as well. A good in-between level! I always think this cheese works particularly well as part of a cheese board line-up.
I basically wept for joy when I discovered this! Feta cheese made up approx 70% of my total cheese intake back in my vegetarian days. After going vegan I assumed I’d never relive those heady greek salads of yesteryear. Last year I tried this at a food festival and it was one of the only things I bought on the spot. IT IS SO GOOD! It’s cubey, crumbly, strong, slightly bitter – everything you want from nice feta, with none of the cruelty and murder. Thank you Sheese.
In fairness I’ve only tried two other vegan parmesans, but this is the best. One thing I’m going to say now – if you don’t normally buy a hard parmesan block, and therefore don’t have means to effectively slice it thinly/shave it, then don’t expect this to work for you. I dived into this cutting off randomly sized, thinnish slices. It tasted overpowering and bitter. My housemate pointed out you would never do that with a block of actual parmesan – you’d go for those wafer-thin slices, or pre-shaved parmesan. So if you are a cheese connoisseur with tools a-plenty, and can slice your shit as the ParmeGods intended, then crack on. This stuff’s great. Just don’t expect a 1cm rectangular block to work in your caesar salad #blegh.
THE BEST CHEESE FOR THE SCENARIO:
BAGEL: Best spready cheeses are Sheese Creamy products, Tofutti or Tescos own brand spreadable.
PIZZA: MozaRisella or Follow Your Heart Shreds.
JACKET POTATO: Cheezly cheddar or Follow Your Heart Shreds.
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE: Any of the creamy Sheese products.
BURGERS: Any of the Violife pre-sliced, ideally cheddar or smoked cheddar.
CUCUMBER SANDWICHES: Mouses Favourite Original Creamy Cashew. My GOD.
GOURMET CHEESE BOARD: There are whole ranges of cheese that would suit – try Tyne Chease or Mouses Favourite.
WITH JAM ON CRUMPET:Violife Original Creamy.
GREEK SALAD: Sheese Greek-style.
WHERE TO GET VEGAN CHEESE:
IRL: Holland & Barrett, Sainsburys, Whole Foods, Waitrose. There are dozens of specialist health food shops in London with great vegan sections – if you have a local health/organic/independent food shop near you then check it out.
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