Non dairy cheese – a plea

Whenever a group of vegans are together, either in real life or online, it’s almost a certainty that before too long the conversation will turn to non dairy cheese. There’ll be a range of views where people discuss and even argue about their favourite (this is usually inversely proportional to the one sold or manufactured near to them), and almost inevitably there’ll be moans about meltability, chemical flavours or levels of creaminess.

My plea to all vegans is to stop this now. We are very lucky nowadays to have a wide range of non dairy cheese to buy, and if we include homemade recipes and cheese sauces we are without limits.

Did you ever hear a non vegan say they don’t like halloumi cheese because it doesn’t melt? Or wonder why feta doesn’t taste all that nice when you have it on toast? Or that cream cheese is lovely but it’s not much good for putting on the top of pasta? No, you didn’t. Why not? Because in the dairy cheese world people use different cheeses for the right purpose and it’s time we embraced this philosophy and started to do the same.

Of course the hard Sheese isn’t great on a pizza, because it doesn’t melt. But try it in this blue cheese dip, or the panzanella sandwich from Hearty Vegan and it comes into its own. I wouldn’t put Daiya or Cheezly on a sandwich, but I like them both on pizza. Vegusto piquant is fabulous on a cracker or grated as parmesan – but for lentil based pasta sauces I’d always prefer a home made walnut based substitution, like the recipe in Yellow Rose Recipes. Don’t put home made tofu ricotta on toast (or maybe?), but do use it to layer in lasagne or to stuff pasta shells. Add spice to nut based cheesy sauces for drizzling over nachos or use them plain for topping hearty casseroles. I could go on indefinitely.

The world of non dairy cheese is changing, and for the better. So let’s take ourselves away from the endless, fruitless comparisons and arguments and concentrate on using the right tools for the job. We open up a new world of flavours for ourselves if we do.

If you have any tips for using your favourite type of bought or home made cheese, especially with recipe links, please leave them in the comments, as I’d like to come back to this topic later with more suggestions.

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9 thoughts on “Non dairy cheese – a plea

  1. I agree, vegan cheeses are getting better all the time and we tend to be very critical. They all have their places, it’s up to us to figure out where that is. I do have a little tip: sometimes a touch of ume plum vinegar can bring a more ‘aged’ taste to a cheese sauce, depending on what you are going for. Also, I love blue cheese crumbled and used with sweet/savory dishes.

    Great post, Liz.

  2. I agree, great post. I actually don’t eat a ton of vegan cheese because I don’t really miss cheese that much, but when I do, I enjoy some Daiya on my homemade pizza. I think it’s great and it satisfies that cheesy-gooey craving. I’m very happy Daiya came on the scene!

  3. Yea!!!!!!! I totally agree with you! I love every vegan cheese I’ve tried, but they all have very different uses. I had a vegan wine & cheese party for my birthday, and I tried to show my friends the best way to enjoy different cheeses: Sheese with crackers, Daiya melted into quesadillas, nutritional yeast sauce as a fondue, and Follow Your Heart cut into cheese cubes. It was fun!

  4. Wow I never thought express that view as well as you have! You really nailed it. I always use different vegan cheeses for different dishes. For instance Tofutti slices for grilled cheese. Tofutti mozzarella slices melt great on pizza. Redwood blue cheese is very creamy and makes a great blue cheese dressing or put it with the tofutti mozzarella on your pizza.
    Thanks for a great post!

  5. I admit I’m not the best vegan cheese taster in the world as I never really liked the rotting cows milk stuff! Despite not being overly keen, I tried my first vegan cheese over 20 years ago and continue to buy any new varieties I see, although this probably equates to one a year (or less), and I think you’re right that they have improved a little and deserve to be used correctly.
    The nearest I get to making a ‘cheese’ on a regular basis is by straining soya yoghurt. This I find can be used in recipes instead of cream cheese.
    Maybe one day I will become a true vegan cheese fan, I’ll keep trying 🙂

  6. This is a fabulous post, and so much truth. I love vegan cheese in many of its forms, but definitely in the right circumstances. We are lucky to have options, both store bought and homemade.

  7. Well said! I have loved many kinds of store-bought and homemade vegan cheeses and you are exactly right- they are good when used in the right places! I love Daiya, but in on a cold sandwich? Yuck!

    Way to put this issue to rest 🙂

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