Can vegans eat cheese?
In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegans eat cheese?” and will discuss which types of cheese are suitable for vegans.
Can vegans eat cheese?
No, vegans can’t eat cheese, rather they can eat cheese-analogues. There are cheese products made from plant-based components such as soy and pea products, as well as cashew and coconut products that are suitable for vegans. Among the most popular non-dairy alternatives to dairy, cheeses are vegan cheddar, gouda, and parmesan products (1).
The milk and culture may be substituted with non-dairy milk alternatives such as almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, cashew milk, and so on, to make many other popular kinds of cheese vegan. Which cheeses you can and wish to consume will be determined by the kind of vegan cheese components you like (1).
Cheese is an extremely complex food. By one estimate there are more than 1,000 cheese varieties that can be produced from the milk from different animals, as well as other raw materials, using a variety of production and aging operations. The great variety reflects the popularity of regular cheese with around 6 and 10 million tons being produced in the USA and EU, respectively, which is around three-quarters of the world’s production (1).
The plant-based dairy sector is expected to expand at a CAGR of 12.5% and reach a global market size of USD 52.58 billion by 2028 (2).
What Kinds of Vegan Cheese Can You Find?
It’s great news that several favorite kinds of cheese are now available in vegan form on the market and can be found in grocery shops, restaurants, bakeries, and homes throughout the country. Using store-bought vegan cheeses or making your own from scratch is a wonderful way to get started, regardless of your preference. Some of our personal favorites are listed below:
Use cashews to create the foundation of your favorite cheddar cheese for a delectable twist that is exquisite and replicates the same rich taste of sharp cheddar. There are a few more ingredients you’ll want to have on hand for this recipe: agar and agar powder. Red pepper flakes and turmeric may also be added to your wish for additional heat. Other ingredients used are oat milk, faba bean protein, potato starch, organic Tapioca Starch, yeast extract, konjac, and locust bean gum (1).
The bitter, fragrant, and nutty tastes of gouda are enhanced when made vegan, so try it for yourself. There is no dairy, soy, gluten, or nuts in this fast and easy meal. Simply combine cashews, coconut oil, tapioca flour, nutritional yeast flakes, and liquid smoke to create a delicious treat. Hickory smoke flavor or other spices may be used to give the dish a smoky taste.
When ground into a dish, cashew butter resembles the texture and consistency of parmesan cheese, making it an excellent vegan alternative. It’s possible to boost the nutritional value of your dish by adding additional whole foods such as raw cashews and nutritional yeast to your recipe. Commercial parmesan analogue cheese contains palm oil, potato starch, canola oil, vegetable glycerin, bamboo fiber, carrageenan, nutritional yeast, chickpea miso and other ingredients, such as coagulants and acids (1).
This traditional cheese can be used in a wide range of recipes, and it’s even better now since it’s vegan! Refined coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and tapioca starch are all you’ll need. Raw cashews and kappa-carrageenan help turn liquid cheese into a solid form. Commercial plant-based mozzarella contains soybean oil, soymilk, natural flavors, inulin (chicory root extract), agar agar, soy protein, and other ingredients (1).
Vegan Cream cheese
This vegan cheese is one of the most nutrient-dense options available. While there are many methods to prepare it, one of the most popular uses raw cashews, non-dairy yogurt or coconut cream, lemon juice, and onion, as well as white or apple cider vinegar. For a sweet treat, try adding fresh fruit, or for a savory dish, try adding veggies, herbs, and spices from your garden. Commercial products contain coconut oil, potato starch, salt, flavor (vegan sources), olive extract, or cashew nuts and lemon juice (1).
Brie and Camembert cheeses
This creamy, fruity, and buttery cheese may also be prepared in a vegan-friendly way if you’re a lover of these flavors. Raw cashews, cultures, filtered water, salt, and penicillium candidum for the rind are the only five necessary components.
To produce such cheeses, the nuts are soaked in boiling water for several hours to ease the blending and reduce the microbial load of the kernels. The nuts are then blended into a concentrated colloidal dispersion with the addition of water and inoculated with mesophilic lactic acid bacteria and with fungus, such as Penicillium camemberti, Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis, and Lactococcus lactis subsp. cremoris. The cheese curd is fermented at optimum conditions for mesophilic bacteria to grow for around 24 h, formed, and further fermented for several weeks at a temperature from around 12 to 18°C and a relative humidity >80% until the required characteristic flavor profile is developed and the surface is covered with mold (1).
Fans of pungent creamy blue cheese will be happy to hear that it’s possible to convert it vegan and still enjoy its pungent creamy texture. Mesophilic culture, penicillium, sea salt, and raw cashews are common ingredients in recipes. Some ingredients may be changed to suit your tastes, but these are the most popular for getting the product you want. Blue cheese analogue is produced similarly to brie cheese analogue (1).
What ingredients go into making vegan cheese?
Plant-based milk, proteins, lipids, and veggies all work well together to make vegan cheese. Seeds like sesame and sunflower, as well as nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds, and pine nuts, are often utilized in the production of vegan cheeses. Yeast, tapioca, coconut oil, and spices are all popular additions to vegan cheese, as are grains like rice and potatoes. Using these components as a replacement will guarantee that your cheese is as near as possible to the original in terms of consistency, texture, taste, and fragrance.
The proteins used in plant-based cheeses are mainly derived from pea, soy, lupin, potato, nuts, and corn. The proteins need to fulfill different physicochemical and functional attributes with emulsification, gelation, water holding, and flavor pre-cursor properties being the most important ones. As sources of polysaccharides, most commonly, tapioca, potato, and corn starches are used in plant-based cheese formulations. In order to ensure the melting property of plant-based cheeses, fats are necessary, such as avocado, canola, cocoa, coconut, corn, palm, vegetable, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oils (1).
Possible alternatives to the daily diet
Compared to conventional dairy products, plant-based dairy substitutes offer many attractive features to consumers, including: “free-from” properties  for lactose, cholesterol, and dairy allergens such as casein; reductions in consumer concerns about hormones and antibiotic residues; vegan-friendly labels (depending on additives); typically high content in vitamins, minerals, other bioactives, phytochemicals, and added functionalities, such as dietary fiber or pre-/probiotic activity (2).
The Cheesemakers make sure you only use the finest vegan cheesemaking supplies and materials, so you’ll know precisely what you’re eating or gifting to others when you’re finished. Cheese without the use of milk is made by using vegan cheese cultures. If you must use milk, non-dairy options such as coconut milk, cashew milk, oat milk, or almond milk work just as well as conventional dairy milk.
This creamy, delectable cheese is ideal for anybody who is lactose intolerant or has a dairy intolerance. Making your dairy-free cheese is a great way to learn about healthy cuisine while also adding something special to your cheeseboard.
Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.
Can you eat fish on a vegan diet?
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegans eat cheese?” and discussed which types of cheese are suitable for vegans.
- Grossmann, Lutz, and David Julian McClements. The science of plant-based foods: Approaches to create nutritious and sustainable plant-based cheese analogs. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2021, 118, 207-229.
- Pua, Aileen, et al. Ingredients, Processing, and Fermentation: Addressing the Organoleptic Boundaries of Plant-Based Dairy Analogues. Foods, 2022, 11, 875.