If you're switching to a plant-based diet, but stressed about giving up your favorite dairy cheese, set your worries aside! There's an array of vegan cheese options to satisfy both your palate and your wallet.
There's a variety of tasty vegan cheeses made from plant sources such as almonds, cashews, soybeans and peas. Vegan cheese brands include Daiya, Field Roast Chao Slices, Miyoko's Creamery, Treeline Cheese and Kite Hill.
Why Don't Vegans Eat Cheese?
Vegans don't wear, use or eat any animal products, and that includes cheese made from dairy products. Many vegans avoid dairy products to reduce the suffering of animals, but there are added health benefits to vegan cheese too. Cholesterol is only found in animal products, so nondairy cheese provides a tasty, cholesterol-free alternative.
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If you eat healthy plant-based meals, you likely don't need to worry about losing calcium, either. Thankfully, when it comes to obtaining calcium, dairy isn't the only choice, nor even the best choice, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Those who choose to skip dairy cheese, can easily get their calcium from vegan foods. Tasty options include collards, bok choy, fortified plant-based milks and baked beans.
Heads up, though: if you're following a vegan diet or are allergic to dairy, be aware that some lactose-free cheeses still contain animal products. Casein, a dairy protein, can be found in certain soy milk and nut milk cheeses, such as Go-Veggie's Cheddar Style Block. So if your goal is to avoid all animal products, be sure to read the ingredients carefully.
Vegan Cheese for Every Occasion
Vegan cheeses once had the well-known and well-deserved reputation that they didn't melt. They'd just sit there like a glossy blob, no matter how long you popped them in the oven or microwave. Thankfully, those days are long gone. If you don't care for the taste of one vegan cheese, be sure to try another, as their consistency and flavor vary tremendously, just as dairy-based cheeses do.
If you're looking for a vegan cheese that melts for pizzas, calzones or simply a great grilled cheese sandwich, check out Daiya's wide selection of plant-based cheese. Not only is Daiya vegan, but it's also soy-free and gluten-free. It's made from pea protein and is available in slices, shreds and blocks. It's often the cheese of choice at pizzerias, including Blaze Pizza ,which serves it on their vegan pizzas at over 300 locations.
Field Roast also makes a yummy line of coconut milk vegan cheese, Chao Slices, which come flavored as Creamy Original, Tomato Cayenne and Garden Herb. If you're in the mood for fancier fare, consider a flavorful wheel of vegan cheese from Miyoko's Creamery or Treeline Cheese, both of which are made from a base of cashews.
Read more: How Are Cashews Good For You?
These cheeses spread easily and are perfect for pairing with crackers, olives, chopped veggies or your favorite vegan wine. If you're looking for cream cheese, Kite Hill has you covered with their vegan Almond Milk Cream Cheese Style Spread.
Consider Eating Vegan Cheese
Many people are making the decision to ditch dairy and enjoy a healthy plant-based diet, because of the effect that food choices have on global warming, animal welfare and personal wellbeing. People often stop eating animal products for one specific reason, but then, after more research, they find the other benefits of enjoying a plant-based diet are equally compelling.
A review of studies published in October 2018 in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that plant-based diets, centered around fruit, vegetables, grains, healthy nuts, seeds and legumes, can help manage weight and Type 2 diabetes. Plant-based foods are nutrient-dense, but naturally low in saturated fat and calories.
As an added bonus, by enjoying a plant-based diet, you'll feel fuller, faster too! In a small case study of 60 participants, published in January 2019 in the journal Nutrients, researchers found an increase in gut hormones and satiety following the consumption of a single plant-based meal, compared to those who ate processed meat and dairy cheese.
With so many delicious, affordable plant-based options to choose from, switching out your dairy cheese for a plant-based alternative has become an easy, tasty and affordable option.
Read more: 4 Reasons to Eat Just a Little Bit Less Meat
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Calcium and Milk"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Go Veggie, Cheddar Style Block"
- Daiya Foods: "Find Your Happy Plate"
- Field Roast Chao Creamery: "Products"
- Miyoko's Creamery: "Love Dairy. Without Cows."
- Treeline Tree Nut Cheese: "Our Products"
- Kite Hill: "Explore Our Artisan Almond Milk Foods."
- BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care: "Effectiveness of Plant-Based Diets in Promoting Well-Being in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Add More Nutrient-Dense Foods to Your Diet"
- Blaze Pizza: "Homepage"
- Nutrients: "A Plant-Based Meal Increases Gastrointestinal Hormones and Satiety More Than an Energy- and Macronutrient-Matched Processed-Meat Meal in T2D, Obese, and Healthy Men: A Three-Group Randomized Crossover Study"