I was a big cheese fan. Huge. The stronger the cheese, the better I liked it. Now the very thought of eating dairy cheese makes me feel nauseous but that is because now I realise the horror that is an inherent part of making every type of the substance.
I made a mistake when I first became vegan. I immediately focused on finding a substitute for the cheese that I had loved so much. My palate was still tuned to my previous ‘foods’ and it was quite disheartening to realise that exact substitutes were going to be hard to find.
Looking back, that’s not surprising. I used to use cream cheese as an ingredient in icing, strong cheddar, gorgonzola or stilton in sauces, roquefort on oatcakes, mozzarella on pizza, and parmesan in soup and as a pasta topping. No one-size-fits-all substitute was ever going to happen!
I shopped online and bought a variety of different types to sample, including Sheese and Teese because I’d seen vegans recommending them, but they didn’t give me that exact match I was looking for and I eventually gave up. This was not the disappointment it might have been because as the months rolled by I found my palate changing and foods that I had previously been rather unenthusiastic about, I now found absolutely delicious and I really didn’t miss cheese at all.
Well, eventually I began to drift back to veganising recipes that I used to need cheese for. To my huge surprise, I found that my non-dairy parmezan was great sprinkled generously on pizza. I found that the cheezy sauce I made for macaroni and lasagne with nutritional yeast as the star – recipe coming soon – while not exactly tasting the same, was perfectly delicious.
And finally, I found that perfectly fine dairy free substitutes are available off the shelf in major supermarkets.
I always have a tub of Tesco’s spread in the fridge. Costs about £2.25 and all varieties are tasty. It reminds me of the cheese spread I used to buy in the bad old days, and I know of nonvegans who have liked it enough to switch to it purely because it’s healthier.
Tesco have also recently started to stock Violife in blocks and slices. To me this tastes very much like edam and has a great melty quality. My son likes the slices grilled on toast with a splash of vegan worcester sauce.
These products are found in the chiller counter alongside other ‘free from’ products. Don’t be tempted by ‘lactofree’ products you may see beside them. These are processed dairy products.
I’ll end this post by adding links for your interest as I think of them
- This is a very informative resource. Written by a page based in the US, many of the products mentioned may not be available in the UK but it’s still worth saving for reference! http://freefromharm.org/food-products/your-guide-to-going-dairy-free/
- Recommended recipe books – the Non-dairy Formulary by The Gentle Chef, Skye Michael Conroy -recipes to veganise anything dairy.
- Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner – fabulous artisan cheese recipes