If there is one product that people struggle to give up when they go vegan, it’s cheese. When I went vegan I thought it would be chocolate, but no, it was cheese that I had cravings for, and I’m sure some of you will feel the same. There’s a theory that it’s due to opiate-like substances in cow’s milk that are meant to help create a bond between mother and calf, which then become concentrated in the cheese-making process. But it could simply be that the high fat and salt content triggers pleasure centres in our brains, giving us a hit of dopamine. Who knows? But the fact is, cheese is addictive.
So, what can you do to tackle these cravings, if you get them? Well, instead of giving in and reaching for the nearest block of cheddar, try giving some of these a go.
Now widely available in most supermarkets and health food shops, Violife comes in a range of different styles, including a kind that’s specifically for pizza, a parmesan substitute and pots of cream cheese.
One of the longest-running vegan cheese-makers in the UK. They now supply both Tesco and Sainsbury with their own-brand dairy-free cheese lines, which are a great option for those on a tight budget, but also have their own hard and soft vegan cheese lines.
Generally only available from health food shops and other specialist food outlets in block form. Not the greatest, in my personal opinion, but fine grated on pizza and pasta or cooked into a quiche.
Probably the best commercially available vegan cheese in the UK and my go-to option when I want a cheese and pickle sandwich. It is a little on the pricy side and difficult to find in shops, but you can order it directly from the company website.
There’s a small but growing number of artisan vegan cheese makers around the UK producing high-quality products in varieties that are not normally commercially available. Most aren’t available in shops, but you can usually order from them online or buy them at vegan fairs and festivals. Here are a few that I know of:
If you are an adventurous chef, you might like to try your hand at making vegan cheese for yourself. You can find a range of recipes online from the ridiculously easy, to the far more challenging, and there are several cookbooks devoted to it.
Remember the cows
If after trying all of these you still feel the need to eat real cheese, you might want to watch the video below. It’s not graphic, it simply shows what happens when a mother and her calf are separated so that her milk can be bottled for cheese-making or other human consumption. It’s clear from the video that the calf wants his mum much more than you want cheese.