It was great to see local artisan cashew cheese producer Tyne Chease feature on The Independent’s Top 10 Vegan Cheese list recently. Reading through the selection made me wonder what I’d rate in my own recommendations. Since veganism came into my life 2 years ago I have tried A LOT of different varieties; some have been terrible while others have been quite surprising.
One thing I’d say to any new vegan is that you have to manage your expectations when it comes to non-dairy cheese. Nothing is going to be exactly like what is made with animal products so it’s best to just put that out there. I said for a long time I wouldn’t be vegan because I’d miss cheese too much. Once you know what happens in its production, you can’t unknow however. I’ve written a post about how I reached the decision to become fully vegan after sitting on the fence for a while, and you can read here if you’re so inclined.
People told me to go cold turkey (poor expression, I know!) and it’s only afterwards I understand why. It takes a while for your palate to adjust and some non-dairy cheeses I tried pre-vegan I now adore. In the interim I started to make my own using cashews (see my raw cheese recipe here) and subsequently fell in love with Tyne Chease. 10 months down the line and I can finally appreciate Violife’s Original Block in a way I couldn’t this time last year. What one person likes may be Marmite to another, so please remember these are my personal recommendations. Also, if you’ve found cutting out dairy difficult because of the alternatives try to remember the bigger picture. We do this for the animals 🙂
There are two brands I’ve yet to try that I’ve heard very good things about – Vegusto and Carma. I look forward to potentially updating this list.
In no particular order..
As the name suggests, this cultured cheese alternative is made up here in the North East. Available online, at vegan festivals around the country and in selected independents stockists, this dairy free product was one of the first I tried and initially didn’t like. It’s crazy when I remember this as I could merrily eat a whole ‘wheel’ if I’m not careful now. Standout flavours for me are the Cashew Truffle, Sundried Tomato and Za’tar Spice.
Laying out a selection of Tyne Chease with crackers at a dinner party or Christmas party is bound to be a conversational piece, even with non-vegans. A must-try.
Violife Mediterranean Block
Heralded as an alternative to Halloumi, I unfortunately don’t think it is anything like the traditional Greek sheep cheese. It isn’t all bad, however. With its strong cheese taste it is one of the best tasting vegan cheeses out there if you’re looking for something which replicates the dairy versions. You can read my review here. We often buy this as it makes great toasties. I’m sure this isn’t what Violife intended in development but I’m sure they can work on the ‘squeak’!
Tesco Red Leicester Slices
An excellent ‘melter’ we use these to top our burger patties. A quick grill before putting in a soft bun and job’s a good’ un. Dinky likes these in sandwiches and are part of a ‘pack’ we send her into nursery with each week as alternatives she can have with her meals. Easy to find in the chilled Free From section of most larger Tesco’s, you will also find the slightly spicy Jalapeno Cheese that works well on nachos.
Follow Your Heart Italian Style
Not able to call this Parmesan officially, Follow Your Heart have a great alternative product available from vegan stores and online. One of the best versions around, its shredded texture means it edged Violife’s Prosociano out of my affections. Lovely and salty, it also melts well on top of sauces. It is more expensive than some of the supermarket versions you’ll find, but paying that little bit extra is well worth it.
Sainsbury’s Grated Cheddar-Style
Some may not appreciate the slightly sweet flavour from the coconut oil this is made from, but it is something you become accustomed to in time. What I love about this variety of vegan cheese from Sainsbury’s is how well it replicated regular cheddar on my Cauliflower Cheese. Available in selected stores of this national retailer, it goes to show how readily available vegan products are throughout the country.
Violife Smooth & Creamy
Available in selected supermarkets and in independent vegan stores throughout the country, Violife’s Smooth & Creamy is still one of the best tasting ‘spready’ dairy free cheeses you’ll find. It is exactly as its name suggests and is quite similar to Philadelphia for those who miss this soft dairy cheese. We pop ours on toast for a speedy breakfast or on bagels at the weekend.
Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda
Another inclusion on the list from this American brand, it goes to show how right Follow Your Heart are getting their vegan products. If you haven’t already also purchase their Veganaise. By far the best egg-free mayo on the market. I digress..
These smoky slices make a fantastic sandwich filling. Stick it in a panini or baguette with some Tofurky and you have one of the most delicious vegan sandwiches you’ll encounter. Toasted is even better!
Finding this German-based brand was a revelation for me. Serving this up to my non-vegan family and them not noticing the difference was definitely a huge tick in the box for Wilmersburger. Whether it is in block form – which comes in a variety of flavours – or slices, this cheese is both creamy and cheesy. Available online from Alternative Stores and a variety of other vegan retailers, it is a little more expensive, but because of how strong the flavours are you won’t have to use too much. Great on a cream cracker (usually accidentally vegan, btw) or topping a jacket potato, the way Wilmersburger melts also makes it a good all-rounder.
Made from brown rice, MozzaRisella doesn’t have coconut flavour that so many vegan cheeses seem to be afflicted with. Used by some high street restaurants as a dairy-free alternative, this mild mozzarella-style alternative works just as well in a salad as it does on top of a pizza. Available from Alternative Stores and other vegan retailers.
Sheese Smoked Cheddar
Sheese is also marketed under the Tesco and Sainsbury’s label, which surprises many people. Tesco’s own Free From Soya Smoked is also Sheese’s Smoked Cheddar Style! It tastes great in sandwiches and again has a wonderfully melty quality. It is also one of the cheaper brands of non-dairy cheese you’ll find. Available from The Vegan Kind and other vegan stockists.
As you can see, there’s plenty of choice out there if you are dairy free. There’s definitely no reason to miss out on Cheese Toasties or Pizzas ever again!
Thanks for reading,
If you’re still hankering for vegan Halloumi, check out my recipe to make at home yourself here.