11 Cheese Alternatives For Vegans
Whether you are vegan by necessity or preference, one of the biggest challenges in a vegan lifestyle is finding an alternative to cheese. It’s one of the things that many new vegans are unsure about, and even vegan veterans can have a hard time finding a good-tasting, high-quality alternative.
There is a wide variety of cheeses with distinct flavors, from parmesan to ricotta to cheddar, and it is challenging to capture those rich flavors in any one substitute. On top of that, it’s difficult to find a vegan alternative that can play the same role in recipes; cheese adds saltiness, richness, and often a creamy texture, and few other foods can fill all those roles.
Thankfully, however, all is not lost. As veganism has become more popular, there has been an upsurge in vegan cheese alternatives and at-home vegan cheese recipes. In this article, we will break down eleven excellent cheese alternatives for vegans, with a particular focus on taste and nutrition.
Sliced Cheese Alternatives
First on our list of cheese alternatives for vegans will be vegan sliced cheeses. These cheeses work best with sandwiches and grilled cheeses, though they also taste great on their own. No limp American cheese singles here; these cheese alternatives for vegans are some of the best that the vegan cheese world has to offer!
Field Roast Chao Slices, Creamy Original
If you’re looking for a reliable, neutral cheese to go on top of a sandwich or in a grilled cheese, then this is the one for you. Field Roast’s Chao slices are made of coconut and fermented tofu, creating a sturdy texture and rich flavor that works well on sandwiches and crackers.
However, Field Roast Chao slices are not the best option if you want to be health-conscious. One slice contains 20% of the daily recommended intake of saturated fat, 8% of the daily recommended amount of sodium, and zero protein. As a result, these slices should be consumed in moderation and ideally as part of a healthy meal.
So Delicious Cheddar Style Slices
So Delicious Cheddar slices are a good option if you would like to spice up a vegan meat sandwich, a vegan omelet, or a bean burger. So Delicious’ cheddar substitute is made from coconut oil, corn, tapioca, and potato starch, which gives it a sturdy flavor. It also melts easily compared to other cheese alternatives, making it especially good for warm sandwiches.
Nutritionally, So Delicious’ cheddar slices are similar to Field Roast’s Chao slices, with 180 milligrams of sodium, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein. That said, it is a slightly fattier cheese than Field Roast’s, with 5 grams of fat (4.5 of which are saturated fats) compared to Field Roast’s 4.5 grams (4 of which are saturated).
Daiya Provolone Style Slices
If you are a lover of all things Italian, you are in luck. Daiya offers an excellent Provolone alternative, which brings a mildly sharp and full-bodied flavor to your dish. Whereas the previous cheeses work best in deli-style sandwiches and burgers, the Daiya provolone works well on Mediterranean flatbreads and crackers. It is the kind of cheese best enjoyed as an appetizer.
Though this cheese has a unique flavor and an excellent melt, it does not stand out from its fellow vegan cheeses on the nutritional front. It has 5 grams of fat (4 of which are saturated), 170 milligrams of sodium, 60 calories, and 0 grams of protein.
Violife Slices with Herbs
One of the main issues with cheese alternatives for vegans is finding an option with the same complex flavors as “real” cheese. If that is your biggest concern, then Violife Slices with Herbs could be the option for you.
Violife Original Flavor cheese is a solid choice of alternative, but this flavor infuses thyme and oregano into the cheese to create a light, herbaceous flavor. As a result, this cheese is a stellar option to put on crackers or focaccia on a warm, summery day.
The Greek-based company’s formula uses coconut oil, olive extract, and starches in addition to the aforementioned herbs, giving a very authentic cheese-like texture. As with other slices, it is a bit weak on the nutritional front, with 57 calories, 4.6 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 protein.
This next category of cheese alternatives for vegans covers shredded vegan cheese, which can be substituted for shredded mozzarella, cheddar, and other cheeses that go on sandwiches and tacos.
Daiya Cutting Board Mexican 4 Cheeze Style Blend Shreds
If you are in the market for a vegan cheese to complement tofu tacos or black bean burritos, this is the one for you.
Typically, vegan cheeses can suffer from overly simplistic flavors–they throw together fat and salt, missing what makes “real” cheese so tasty. But Daiya’s cutting board 4-style Mexican cheese solves this problem by mixing multiple different flavors of cheese, namely Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Asadero, and Queso Quesadilla.
This blend, which is part of Daiya’s award-winning line of cheeses, is made of chickpea powder, coconut oil, and starches, which gives the cheese a deep and rich flavor. Nutritionally, this cheese is a mixed bag (no pun intended), with 5 grams of fat, 159 grams of calcium, and 230 milligrams of sodium.
Violife Colby Jack
One of the challenges in finding a good cheese alternative for vegans is ensuring that the cheese melts well. Some cheese blends are so sturdy that they do not melt into the same delicious, cheesy ooze that non-vegan cheese does.
Violife’s Colby Jack, however, perfectly solves this problem. In addition to its sharp and delicious flavor, this cheese melts incredibly easily. Toss it on a grilled cheese or toasted sandwich, and then warm it up, and you will feel like you are eating a professionally-made deli sandwich.
This is, however, one of the less healthy cheeses on our list, with 7 grams of fat and a whopping 250 milligrams of sodium.
Moocho Foods Mozzarella
Moocho Foods is a subsidiary of the company that produces Tofurkey, which means that they have plenty of experience in making great cheese alternatives for vegans. With their mozzarella cheese, they aim to bring out the complex and strong flavors of “real” mozzarella and do so to great effect.
In addition, as with Violife’s Colby Jack, Moocho’s Mozzarella melts quite well, making it great for flatbreads, pizza, and lasagna. While it is a bit high in sodium (230 milligrams) and calories (90), it does bring a little under a gram of protein to the list. While that is not an enormous amount, it’s more than you can say for many other vegan cheese alternatives.
So Delicious Cheddar Shreds
When you need a standard vegan shredded cheese, So Delicious’ cheddar shreds may be the way to go. These shreds don’t melt as well as Daiya or Moocho Mozzarella, but they do have a strong, rich flavor. As a result, they work best on foods that don’t need to be heated, like salads and simple wraps.
Ingredient-wise, these shreds continue So Delicious’ coconut-oil-and-potato-based cheese, and the Annatto extract adds a brilliant pop of yellow. Nutritionally, they follow the standard for shredded vegan cheeses, with 90 calories, 7 grams of fat, and a little under a gram of protein. They also have just 220 milligrams of sodium, the lowest on this list.
This category of cheeses is best when you need to substitute for grated parmesan, feta, or cotija. Do note that this category is the easiest to make at home, allowing you to mix in healthier ingredients!
Nutritional yeast isn’t a vegan cheese alternative in itself, but it is a good substitute when you want to thicken a sauce with some parmesan cheese.
This wondrous yellow substance is essentially deactivated yeast that’s packaged in a powdered form. It’s considered “nutritional” because you can eat it on its own, and it won’t expand the foods it’s in, unlike the yeast used in baking.
Again, despite its appearance, nutritional yeast won’t serve as an especially good cheese alternative for vegans by itself. It tastes slightly rich, but its powdery texture isn’t as gritty or as salty as you would want a parmesan or feta to be.
That said, nutritional yeast tastes excellent when mixed into creamy sauces, soups, and pestos. It adds the same rich flavor and denseness that a crumbly cheese would and doesn’t overload your sauce with artificial flavors.
Finally, nutritional yeast is a winner when it comes to, well, nutrition! It’s low in fat with just 0.5 grams, 25 milligrams of sodium, and packs in a stellar 8 grams of protein per serving. As a result, it’s a nutritious and delicious choice for cheese-loving vegans.
Violife Just Like Feta
The Violife Just Like Feta Block is one of the few vegan feta alternatives, and it’s a solid option when you want that specific flavor. Like genuine feta, this cheese alternative for vegans comes in block form, meaning that you can grate or crumble it yourself to get a finer texture. Alternatively, you can lay large slabs of the cheese over sandwiches, slices of bread, or tomatoes.
Like Violife’s other cheeses, Just Like Feta is made of water, coconut oil, potato starch, and a touch of olive extract to infuse a bit of Mediterranean flavor. It’s also light on calories and carbohydrates (90 calories and 3 grams, respectively), but it is quite fatty (8 grams) and has no protein.
If you were going to use parmesan or another cheese as a topping, the best choice would be to make a blend of nuts and nutritional yeast yourself. To make a nut-based parmesan, pick out your favorite tree nut. Cashews are an excellent choice since they are fatty and flavorful. You could also try walnuts, pecans, or macadamia nuts if you want a different flavor.
Combine about a 3/4 cup of your chosen tree nut with 2-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and a teaspoon of salt. For a more flavorful cheese, add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, more salt, or other seasonings. Add these ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend them until they form an integrated powder.
Nut-based parmesans are great for vegan cheese aficionados for a few reasons. First, they allow you to customize your cheese with your preferred suite of flavors; if you want to spice up a pasta dish, you could make an herbal parmesan. If you want a crumbly Mexican-inspired cheese, you could add lemon salt to make it sharp and tangy.
Second, they are an incredibly nutritious option. Adding the nutritional benefits of cashews to those of salt and nutritional yeast, a natural cashew-based parmesan contains around 150 calories per serving. It also has the same amount of sodium as the leading vegan parmesan (450 mg) and 5 more grams of protein.
Finally, this variety of vegan cheese bypasses the litany of artificial ingredients and preservatives you typically find in cheese alternatives for vegans. Instead, it is made almost entirely of ingredients from your pantry, making it fresher, tastier, and less dense with mystery ingredients. Plus, it is perfect for a paleo diet!
While vegans and those with dairy allergies have long suffered from cheese-less-ness, light is finally shining forth, and there is a wide array of cheese alternatives for vegans on the market. Whether you want rich slices for a sandwich, sharp shreds for a taco or lasagna, or homemade crumbles of your creation, the alternative cheese world is your oyster.
As you select your favorite vegan cheese, keep in mind that both taste and nutrition are important considerations. As we’ve seen, flavor and healthfulness don’t need to be mutually exclusive, but you should keep an eye out for vegan cheeses that are surprisingly fatty or salty.
Now that you are educated in the ways of cheese alternatives for vegans, it’s time to go out and figure out your favorite. Be sure to pair them with a stellar vegan meat substitute so that you can dine like royalty!
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