What is vegan cheese and what is it made from?

By Rhiannon Davis

Oct 5, 2021

Vegan Cheese

With interest in dairy alternatives becoming more common, vegan cheese has had a bit of a boom in recent years. But what exactly is it made from? We’re here to answer some of the biggest questions around vegan cheese.

How is vegan cheese made?

Most vegan cheese is made from either soy proteins, nuts or plant based milks. Unlike conventional cheese, vegan cheese is not aged. Instead producers use flavourings such as citrus or nutritional yeast (the holy grail of vegan cuisine) for that tangy taste synonymous with an aged cheese. 

Vegan cheese makers are forever experimenting with their product to finesse it into the most cheese-like substance it can be. Some have even used types of yeast to mimic cow milk proteins in a bid to get closer to the real thing. We’re now seeing vegan cheeses that can grate and melt just like actual cheese. As the demand for vegan dairy alternatives continues to grow, we expect to see even more innovation. 

What to look out for when buying vegan cheese?

This is largely down to personal preference, but vegan cheeses with cashew bases tend to be creamier. We also recommend looking at the added ingredients list, we prefer more natural, simple cheeses, and nutritional yeast is a great indicator of a natural flavouring. Some more processed cheeses will contain preservatives and refined oils, and if you’re consuming a lot of vegan cheese, we’d recommend eating these in smaller quantities. 

Does vegan cheese melt?

The short answer; most of it does. Whilst there will always be some varieties that melt a little weirdly (a housemate once put violife in the microwave after a late night, and it was not pretty), advances in technology mean that there are now lots of varieties that melt very well. We recommend melting vegan cheese on slightly lower heats than normal.

Can vegan cheese go bad (as in go off, not devilish)?

Just like dairy cheese, vegan cheese has individual expiry dates that change depending on the ingredients and how it is packaged. If the cheese has higher fat content and lower water content, then it can be kept for longer. 

Is vegan cheese healthy?

Just like dairy cheese, vegan cheese can be eaten as part of a balanced diet (a piece of cheese in each hand). Again, it’s all about the ingredients and we recommend looking for whole foods, with natural oils and minimal ingredients, after all, the majority of dairy cheeses are made from just four ingredients; milk, cultures, rennet and salt. For official guidance, check out the NHS guidelines to eating well on a vegan diet here.  

Will cheesegeek ever do vegan cheese?

Here at cheesegeek, we’re all about finding the most incredible tasting cheeses for our customers. We have two simple criteria. Firstly, it has to taste phenomenal. Secondly, it has to taste exactly like cheese. If you have any vegan cheese recommendations, let us know on hello@thecheesegeek.com

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