*Guest post by University of Manitoba Nutrition Student – Marcede Sebelius
A healthy dairy-free alternative for cheese …Vegan Cheese!
Cheese is arguably one of the most admired food creations available today. It’s in everything, on everything, and added to everything. On the topic of plant-based diets, there seems to be a constant ramble revolving around this coagulation… “I could never give up cheese”…“I don’t know how you live without cheese”…“Don’t you miss pizza?!” Yes. I do miss pizza. But that’s what vegan cheese is for. Yes, VEGAN cheese. A dairy free, non-animal product to replace your smothered pizza topping. And, just like your dairy-free milk alternatives, there are even some variations you can make at home!
Before you go ahead and believe all your vegan dreams have come true, unfortunately these alternatives won’t be the same at your “mouth-watering” melted goodness between two toasted pieces of bread, but they sure are the next best thing! Just without all the saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium! Compared to dairy cheeses, vegan cheeses also offer a much lower amount of calories per serving and typically contain a good amount of protein.
There are a few brands popping up in grocery stores, with the majority being at health foods stores. These brands, including Daiya, Tofutti, and Earth Island offer a variety of different types of “cheeses” for all sorts of culinary preparations. These cheeses are a fantastic substitution for regular cheese and will meet the needs of any cheese craving when transitioning to a plant-based diet.
What IS vegan cheese?
The basis of most store bought vegan cheeses are made up of ingredients such as plant proteins, like soy or pea, tapioca starch, vegetable oils, nutritional yeast, and thickeners. Quite often some of these products contain a handful of additives and undergo a lot of processing to get the right texture, and therefore should be used sparingly. It is important to check ingredients and nutrition labels in order to decide which product will be best for your purposes. Other types of “cheeses” such as spreads or dips can be made from cashews. Homemade vegan cheeses are almost always better than store bought due to the fact that you know exactly what’s in the end product, and you can control what you put into them based on dietary preferences or restrictions. And of course, the more natural, the better.
After settling into a plant-based diet, many people phase out store bought vegan cheese. Many will no longer require the substitution, but for now they can be of good use for the newbie vegan. Below are a few favourite homemade variations that’ll be sure to curve that cheesy crave.
Here are some links to our favourite tried and tested homemade Vegan Cheese Recipes!
-Garlic Herb Vegan Cheese
-Baked Almond Feta
Are you thinking of trying to eat a more plant-based diet? Or want to learn how to incorporate plant-based food and protein sources into your diet?
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