Vegan cheese is cheese that is created without the use of animal products or the exploitation of sentient beings. Largely, this means that the cheese is created without the use of milk, which is used in the manufacture of traditional cheese.
Vegans cannot consume milk because extracting it from cows involves their exploitation and veganism, by definition, rejects the idea that animals are there for humans to exploit. In order to produce milk, cows must be pregnant or have recently given birth. Calves are removed from their mothers shortly after birth so that we can take the milk of the mother cow and farmers can sell it for profit. Vegans are staunchly against actions like this and therefore do not consume milk.
This means that vegans can't eat traditionally produced cheese. Luckily, there are lot of vegan cheeses available in supermarkets, online and through specialist sellers.
What is vegan cheese made from?
Depending on the brand and the type of cheese, vegan cheese can be made from soy protein, vegetable oil, nutritional yeast, tapioca flour, nuts and natural enzymes. It contains no milk from cows, goats or other lactating animals and this is what makes it vegan.
Where can I buy vegan cheese?
You can buy vegan cheese in most major supermarkets, online and from specialist shoppers and sellers.
Veganism is a growing lifestyle movement and the supermarkets and major retailers are eager to provide plant-based alternatives to popular foods. That includes cheese.
Tesco and Asda both have their own ranges of vegan cheeses and you can find cheese that tastes just like cheddar, mozzarella, chilli, and Wensleydale and cranberry.
There are also lots of exclusively vegan brands with cheese ranges, too, such as Violife, Daiya, and Tyne Chease.
If you're looking to purchase delicious vegan cheese brands online, have a look at this article by Best Products.
What does vegan cheese taste like?
Cheese. Gone are the days of plastic tasting, poor imitations. There are lots of amazing vegan cheeses on the market and they taste just like the real thing.
If you try a particular brand and find that you do not like it, don't give up. Try a different one. It all comes down to personal preference; what one vegan likes, another might not.
Sometimes the best brand can depend on what you are using the cheese for. Some of them melt better than others, whilst others taste much better on a cracker with a blob of pickle. It all depends on your own personal taste.
Vegan cheese recipes
There are lots of different vegan cheese recipes you can try at home. In fact, there are far too many for us to write out here. Instead, try this article from Choose Veg.
They'll teach you how to make vegan mozzarella, camembert, parmesan and nacho cheese.
Why do some people call vegan cheese 'Gary'?
Sometimes, vegan cheese is referred to as ‘Gary'. This is because a Facebook comment in which an internet user implored vegans not to call vegan cheese 'cheese' and to instead call it 'Gary' once went viral.
At the time, lots of stores changed their packaging to reflect the viral campaign and you could ask for 'Gary' on your toastie and everyone would know what you meant.
Best vegan cheese for pizza
We think that pizza tastes great even without the cheese, but if you're looking for some of the melty stuff, there are some great vegan cheeses out there. Some of them are even specifically made for vegan pizzas.
How to get vegan cheese to melt
Vegan cheese should melt if you heat it up in the same way milk-based milk will melt, but not all vegan cheese is melty. If you're looking for vegan melty cheese, the best thing to do is to try out a few brands, or you can look specifically for vegan pizza cheese, which was invented with melting type properties needed for pizza cheese.
Vegan cheese brands
There are more vegan cheese brands than ever before. You can find vegan cheese brands at most major supermarkets, but there are also lots of independent vegan cheese brands, too. Lots of vegan cheese brands have been perfecting their craft for many years and so there is very little difference in taste between vegan and non-vegan cheese in most cases.
Lots of independent vegan cheese brands are struggling now because large supermarkets are mass producing vegan cheese and selling it for much cheaper than independent brands can manage, so do buy from independent companies when you can. This will really help these companies to stay afloat.
Here are some of the most popular ones.
Tyne Chease makes organic, artisan, vegan cheeses. It is a small, family-run business based in the North of England and it makes specialist, extremely tasty vegan cheeses in a variety of flavours, including cashew truffle, cranberry, garlic, pink peppercorn, garlic creamed, sundried tomato, smoked and creamed, and chilli flakes.
Daiya are a very well known vegan cheese brand. They've been around for years. Their website includes a lovely recipe section, so you can get a good idea of how to use their cheeses to make delicious vegan food.
They sell mozzarella, cheddar, pepperjack and blended cheese. They also sell soft cheeses in chive and onion, garden herb, strawberry and plain flavours, cheddar and mozzarella cheese sticks, pizzas, cheese slices and shreds, mac and cheese, and dressings.
Tesco launched its own range of vegan cheeses in response to a growing demand, and now sells soft cheese, Wensleydale and cranberry, chilli cheese, cheddar, mozzarella and smoked cheese.
Tesco sells lots of vegan food, including its own range of vegan ready meals, which includes pasta bake, curry, curry and pizzas.
It also sells lots of accidentally vegan food, such as crisps and biscuits that are not marketed as vegan, but happen to be vegan by accident.
Violife is 100 percent vegan and makes a whole range of vegan cheese. It's a very well know vegan brand and sells its products worldwide.
Its range includes cheddar, parmesan, hot peppers, mozzarella, mediterranean style, blueberry and more.
Vegusto makes vegan cheese and vegan meat substitutes. Its cheeses are well reviewed and come in all sorts of shapes and flavours, including cheddar, piquant, herb, classic blue, walnut and cheesy sauces.
You can order all of its products online, or find them in most health food stores.