When I went vegan a decade ago, there were very few ‘cheese’ offerings available and they were all pretty horrid….. I used to be a big cheese fan and I would often opt for the smelly ‘ripe’ cheeses too, so the plasticky tasteless vegan versions were just not enjoyable.
For many years I have still found that to be the case, but something has happened in the recent months, maybe year or two – where we have suddenly seen an explosion of vegan cheeses on the market, which dare I say it… actually taste pretty good!
We can even find vegan cheese topping pizza in many of the high street chains like Pizza Express or Zizzi now too!
Do they taste like the ‘real thing’? Well I am not suggesting that a cheese lover would be fooled into thinking they were the original versions, but in my opinion, there are a number of decent alternatives out there now…. and the variety is growing! Plus they come with all those wonderful vegan benefits (animals, environment, health etc)
So what vegan cheeses are there to choose from, well both supermarkets and small vegan friendly stores are stocking more and more varieties, as well as those available direct from suppliers… if you know who they are! The new coconut cheese for both Tesco (as photo above) and Sainsbury, is made by the Bute Island foods and for me, the whole range is a real winner.
Below are some of the varieties that I have found in the supermarkets – but what you can find in your local shops will vary. Clearly demand is growing, as the shops are adding more and more varieties, and now it is possible to put together a darn good vegan cheese board – perfect for this festive season!
My top choices (mosty Bute Island) would be:
- Camembert, although I have only found this in artisan brands – my favourite was the Mouses Favourite, utterly divine!
- Cheddar, you can find soya or coconut based – but I prefer the coconut strong cheddar, as it has more flavour
- Caramelised onion cheddar, perfect
- Parmesan by Violife, to me this isn’t parmesan but it has a strong cheesy flavour and so good for topping pasta etc
- Soft cheeses
- Cream cheese, plain or with flavours – great for bagels or as pasta sauce
- Peppercorn rounds – this looks great and will definitely be on my next cheese board
- Blue cheese, great and tastes pretty authentic for a mild blue
- Mozzarella grated, perfect for pizzas
Others that are available but wouldn’t hit of my top list:
- Jalapeno cheddar, nice enough
- Goats cheese, nice option but not very ‘goaty’
- White cheese, including feta style
- Wensleydale with cranberries
- Red Leicester
- Smoked cheddar
Cheese platter anyone? I haven’t had chance to try all the new Violife cheese board offering, but I love that they have put together a selection which is perfect for parties, as the usual blocks are a decent wedge and so a selection of smaller blocks offers more choice!
Or make your own? For those with a good blender, making your own nut cheeses is also an easy great option. I make a cashew cheese, which I then dehydrate to create a rind – which makes a great brie and added to a sandwich with rocket and cranberry sauce, is just divine!
We would love to hear what you think? What are your favourites or which do you avoid? Have you noticed the shift in quality and variety? Have you tried them out on any cheese lovers?