Cheese is traditionally a dairy product, meaning it’s produced from milk (cow, goat, or sheep). But that's lousy news for vegans & really bad news for the animals. But fortunately, a number of companies have come up with a variety of vegan cheeses completely free of milk and animal-based products. And many of them even taste pretty good too--good enough to satisfy even the most devoted dairy cheese lovers.
The traditional types of dairy cheeses we’ve all come to know and love (unless you have dairy allergies) are made from casein — a type of milk protein that comes from the milk of animals like cows, goats, sheep, and camels. During production, a group of enzymes that are produced in the animals' stomachs, called rennet, are added to the milk.
Rennet is what causes coagulation (a.k.a. curdling) to take place, and in the end, what you get is cheese. Although there are some alternative ways to make other types of dairy cheeses, using rennet is the most common way to produce cheeses of different flavors, textures, and forms. Unfortunately for the young bobby calves, the rennet that is used comes from their stomachs.
Vegan cheese, on the other hand, is entirely made from plants and it involves consolidating the protein mass from various plant sources with lactic bacteria that may also be added in for acidity. Oils, emulsifiers, and thickeners are also often used to produce firmer types of vegan cheeses. Thankfully alot of vegan cheese makers use natural additives, not highly preserved ingredients.
What Types of Ingredients are in Vegan Cheese?
Depending on the brand and recipe that’s used, vegan cheese can be made from soy protein (used in shiny, slick, rubbery varieties), solidified vegetable oil (like coconut, palm, or safflower) nutritional yeast, thickening agar flakes, nuts (including cashews, macadamias, and almonds), tapioca flour, natural enzymes, vegetable glycerin, assorted bacterial cultures, arrowroot, and even pea protein.
Some varieties of vegan cheese can also be highly processed to get the flavors and textures just right. Just like “gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, it’s the same deal with “vegan.” Keep in mind that some vegan cheese varieties have been through as much processing as a standard package of American cheese slices or a veggie burger.
However, nowadays, a growing number of cheese producers are skipping the excessive factory-extruded processed ingredients, and are using traditional cheese aging and bacterial culturing methods to make vegan cheeses--with only a few ingredients like nut milks, enzymes, and salt.
Does Vegan Cheese Taste Like Real Cheese?
The big difference between real cheese and vegan cheese is the consolidated protein — otherwise known as the curd. Real cheese goes through stages where the proteins physically bond to each other, which is why you can get so many different unique flavors and textures by ageing the cheese.
Since vegan cheese doesn’t experience any modification in proteins the way real cheese does, it may not deliver the same complex flavors that come from coagulated, acidified, pasteurized, and aged milk. But through the bacterial and ageing process many vegan cheese makers are now employing, there are some well-loved vegan cheeses that many say rival the taste and texture of dairy cheeses.
As the demand for dairy-free alternatives increases, so to does the level of research and development taking place in Dairy-Free Cheese factories around the world.
Our cheeses are made from a Coconut Oil and Potato starch base and few natural ingredients that provide the experience of dairy cheese, the taste, flavour, mouth feel and mouth textures - with no 'vegan' after taste.
There are a large and ever increasing number of vegan cheese brands on shelves and it provides us with much excitement that it is making a difference to the world, the animals, planet and our health.
We continue to strive to create the best cheese experiences without the animals involved!!!
I think Barnaby would really get behind this concept!