People choose plant-based cheese for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s for environmental or ethical reasons. Maybe you’re transitioning to a flexitarian lifestyle, experiencing lactose intolerance, or exploring different things as a self-proclaimed foodie! With the growing number of options at the grocery store, selecting a plant-based cheese that fits your needs, preferences, and tastebuds can be a challenge. When it comes to 0% dairy, 100% awesome cheese flavor, Vevan cheesemakers practically wrote the book! So sit back, take an actual TikTok break, step away from the Wordle, and get schooled on all things plant-based yumminess.
What is plant-based cheese made of?
Besides the common thread of being dairy-free, plant-based cheeses are typically made of:
- Yeast – whether in the form of an extract to help with flavor, texture, or creamy goodness, or as a protein to add nutritional value, yeast is a widely used component
- Starches – often derived from potatoes, arrowroot, chickpeas and tapioca, starches contribute to the cheese’s ability to melt to perfection
- Vegetable oils – notably coconut oil, with its high-fat content, provides a nutty richness; palm oil is another well-known ingredient. These oils help with creating the texture you’re used to with dairy-based cheeses.
Beyond the basics, vegetable derivatives and spices are key to creating unique flavor profiles. And, while the retail market continues to expand, many new faces are making their own plant-based cheeses with more commonly sourced and less traditional ingredients. Here at Vevan, we leaned on our world-class dairy cheesemakers to truly create the stuff cheesy dreams are made of, just without the dairy.
What are the best plant-based cheese options?
While the plant-based cheese market has certainly grown, not all plant-based cheeses are created equally. The better-for-you options are those that use the highest quality, least processed ingredients.
What should you look for when nutrition is your “why” for plant-based cheese?
- Certified Plant-based – independent verification provides a higher level of objectivity and integrity to cheese alternatives
- Non-GMO – plant products used in your cheese have not been altered in a laboratory or treated with herbicide or insecticide
- Preservative-Free – while not all preservatives are bad, food free from them typically avoids any adverse health impacts which may be caused by the use of preservatives
- Allergy-Free – especially if you choosing plant-free eating for food sensitivities, allergy-free means avoiding the 8 major allergens identified by the FDA
- Gluten-Free – the ingredients used are whole and don’t contain wheat or grains, which can be harmful to those with certain conditions or food sensitivities
- Includes Probiotics – Vevan cheese includes probiotics, which promote a healthy gut bacteria balance and can help support immune function
- Soy-Free – although a popular dairy alternative ingredient, some research shows a link to thyroid issues and more. Vevan does not use soy.
Look for these labels on the cheese product packaging to find the most wholesome options that meet your personal dietary preferences or restrictions.
What cheeses are plant-based?
Cheddar and mozzarella remain America’s top cheeses, so it’s no wonder these are also popular plant-based cheese offerings. Additionally, two of the most common ways to use cheese are shredded and sliced (have you tried our Mozza-Melts on your paninis or our Ched-Shred on your next batch of nachos?), so these are also widely made by many plant-based and dairy cheese makers alike.
Looking to spice up your options? Spice is the perfect way to elevate and diversify a plant-based cheese portfolio. Consider Vevan P’Jack-Shred or P’Jack-Melts for a mild peppery zing, sure to enhance any vegan dish! As the market continues to expand, anticipate more exciting varieties to be made more widely available, especially from your friends at Vevan!
Can plant-based cheese be substituted in your favorite meals?
Perhaps one of the biggest, hardest questions about moving to a plant-based lifestyle is, how can you still enjoy the foods you love? Cheese is the cornerstone of many favorite meals – pizza, tacos, pasta dishes, sandwiches, mac ‘n cheese, and other creative concoctions.
A high-quality plant-based cheese can be used interchangeably with dairy cheese, whether as a delicious snack or in your favorite recipes. Key to the success of substitution (besides the obvious – taste) is one of the paramount qualities of cheese: meltiness! As you familiarize your kitchen with plant-based cheese, expect to heat it at higher temperatures for the creamiest and best results. For baked dishes, we recommend cooking Vevan at 425ºF. Also, don’t expect to see the brown color traditional cheese produces as the result of dairy sugars and proteins. Since Vevan is crafted by traditional cheesemakers, we’ve worked hard to replicate the textures and melty goodness you’ve come to expect without any of the dairy you want to avoid!
Back to those favorite foods – check out some of our favorite Vevan recipes and keep enjoying your favorite meals:
Breakfast on the brain? Start your day with these delicious plant-based options.
Ultimately, your food preferences will help drive which plant-based cheeses you use. Hot ‘n spicy? Mild and savory? Mediterranean cuisine? Focus on the tastes you love and let your tastebuds be your compass.
Planting ideas for plant-based success
Still not sure which plant-based cheese is right for you? In three quick tips, here is our best advice to help you on your journey:
- Read the labels
- Get inspired by great recipe options
- Stay curious
Go forth and be awesome!