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Tried & Tested Vegan Cheese
Keen to add some vegan cheese to your diet but not sure where to start? Deputy Editor, Sophie Rae, puts the market’s leading brands to the test...
1. Good Carma
Unlike many vegan cheeses on the market, Good Carma’s nut-based blends are pretty unique amongst the dairy-free market. With very few ingredients to get bogged down with – just blended almonds, yeast flakes and Himalayan pink salt form the base of each pot – the Flavour Fusions (available in Original, Garlic or Chilli) add a quick and easy depth of flavour and hit of that elusive vitamin B12. Back at the beginning of 2017, when I was knee-deep in Veganuary and suffering the occasional cheeseless meltdown, a sprinkling of this Flavour Fusion would have been a saving grace. This time round, I’ve been experimenting with the garlic blend as a veggie Parmesan substitute for homemade pesto (just add a heaped tablespoon to the blender along with the usual ingredient list) and folded tagliatelle through a simple sauce using extra virgin olive oil, chilli Flavour Fusion, fresh garlic, lemon zest and walnuts. The shaker-style condiments each have an approved 12-month shelf life too, proving their worth as a store-cupboard staple. From £4.95 in selected Waitrose stores or goodcarmafoods.com
The entire range of cheese alternatives from Bute Island are vegan-approved, free-from gluten and lactose, and made in a dedicated Free-From Factory on the Isle of Bute. It’s a promise the close-knit team has dedicated their lives to upholding. That, and the invention of an ever-expanding range of animal-free products, which has seen them dominate the vegan cheese market for nearly three decades. From the hefty selection of hard cheese, my favourite remains the Smoked Cheddar; naturally smoked for 24 hours with a blend of hickory and oak smoke, it makes an epic sarnie or loaded potato skins. If you’re a plant-based household, family packed lunches are a breeze with the new Sheese Slices and seem to melt in exactly the same way as their dairy-loaded alternative on stacked veggie burgers. Spreadable cheese available in Holland & Barrett stores. Packets of grated cheese available in Independent Health Retailers from £2.30; buteisland.com
Bought by Heather Mills back in 2009, VBites remain a champion of plant-based living the world over and distributes to 24 countries worldwide (there’s even a new vegan pop-up cafe just launched in Vienna this month – another reason, if ever I needed one, to book another city break!) For those in the UK, check out cafes in Brighton and Chester, or if you’re in the mood to get cooking, the range of meat alternatives will win over omnivores. The brand’s cheese offerings, aptly named Cheezly, offers dairy-free alternatives to white and red Cheddar, Pepperjack, Hard Italian-style, Edam and Mozzarella. There’s also a soya-free blend for those allergic or intolerant to soya, which pops up in so many vegan replacement dishes. Try the Blue-Style grated into soup for a hard-to-recognise substitute to a classic broccoli and Stilton soup or for a quick snack, slice the Mozzarella block into thin slices and grill on top of thick slices of sourdough, with sundried tomatoes and a layer of vegan pesto. Available to buy from Ocado, from £2.19; vbitesfoods.com
If you weren’t hibernating under a rock, you’ll remember the viral sensation that Sainsbury’s launch of a vegan cheese range had back last year. If in doubt, allow me to recap…
– Angry omnivore blasts all vegans who call vegan cheese as ‘cheese’ when clearly it’s made of coconuts.
– Angry omnivore says call it ‘Gary’, anything but cheese. *inserts expletives*
– Vegans laugh and question why angry omnivore is so angry. Maybe they ate too much dairy.
– Sainsbury’s renames its vegan range Gary, just for the lols.
– Vegans laugh more while enjoying some Gary on a cracker.
– Sales of Gary rocket by 300%.
Get the jist? Regardless of what you call it, the seven new blends continue to prove a big hit with the nation. Made up of Cheddar-style (grated and in a block), Greek-style, Garlic & Herb and Original (both soft spreadable), Cheddar style with Caramelised Onion and Wensleydale-Style with Cranberry. After a weekend of testing out the range, my vegan housemates had polished off much of the selection in an epic sampling cheese board, that could rival any Christmas spread, complete with chutneys, bread and dried fruit. Cooking with the cheese is even better though; the Garlic & Herb soft spread made the best vegan pasta dish I’ve had to date, with bonus points for the way it didn’t split when added to hot food, unlike its fresh alternative. If in doubt, try it on a cracker. Vegans love crackers. Available from Sainsbury’s store nationwide, from £2.30; sainsburys.co.uk
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