Vegan cheese is not an oxymoron, and neither is “good” vegan cheese—anymore. Long gone are the days of naked pizzas and tasteless macaroni. As the number of vegans, lactose intolerant, and those concerned with animal agriculture’s giant footprint on the planet rises, many brands are stepping up their game to give us delicious alternatives to traditional dairy products.
If you haven’t tried vegan cheese since the 80s—or ever—here are some to start with.
Vegans rejoiced as Field Roast rolled out their new Chao Cheese slices last year—perfect for quesadillas and sandwiches (and yes, they melt!) If they’re not available in your local grocery store they can be ordered through companies like Vegan Essentials until distribution is more widespread.
This all-vegan cheese shop opened last year in Los Angeles to a line out the door, with some patrons “crying tears of joy,” says Chef Yousseff Fakhouri. It’s no wonder: Fakhouri has perfected the art of fancy organic cheese using time-honored techniques and a proprietary blend of nut milks and herbs—perfect on the grilled cheese, salads and pizzas he offers. No distribution yet, but he ships anywhere in the world.
Miyoko’s Kitchen artisanal cheeses (mostly cashew-based) range from creamy herb flavors to wheels wrapped in wine-cured fig leaves. Paired with fruits or flatbread, they’re surprisingly similar to dairy cheeses and fine enough for party presentation. They’re available at Whole Foods or health food stores, or make your own using Miyoko’s book, Artisan Vegan Cheese.
Health nuts love Dr. Cow’s nut cheese, which claims to be “easy to assimilate and digest.” Voted “product of the year” by Veg News magazine, the Brooklyn-based brand is sold online and in stores all over the East Coast, plus used by restaurants nationwide.
The company that brought us the beloved Vegenaise now makes melt-a-licious slices that come in mozzarella, garden herb, provolone and American styles as well as their own cream cheese, Vegan Gourmet Shreds and sour cream (perfect for stroganoff).
Dairy, gluten, soy and GMO-free, all while being kosher and tasting good, too? Parma got it going on, and it tops salads and pastas for that perfect grainy sprinkle.
Shout out to the old-school DIY version, also known as “nooch; (short for nutritional yeast). This hippie classic is championed in books like Ann Jackson’s Cookin’ Southern Vegetarian Style and usually involves mixing some amount of nutritional yeast, Bragg’s amino acids, oil and spices to make a gooey sauce perfect great for casseroles. Remember casseroles?
Shawna Kenney is a writer and snack connoisseur living in Los Angeles.