I posted a picture on Facebook a month or two ago showing an empty shelf in Sainsbury’s. Big deal, you may say. The excitement from others came from the POS on that very shelf end, located within the chilled section of the store. It pointed to the imminent arrival of a big American brand of vegan cheese called Daiya to UK shores. The price (£4.50 for 200g) also got people talking. I personally wanted to know whether it was worth the hype and/or the price tag. Had us Brits been missing out on a fantastic dairy alternative all of these years? Was my Top 10 Vegan Cheese list about to be revised?
Once it appeared in my own local store I was determined to try it out. Unfortunately only the Cheddar Block was on sale, while others around the country had managed to pick up the Mozzarella Shreds as well. I wanted to see whether it melted in the way a ‘regular’ cheddar would on toast as I had a real hankering for this comforting snack. I even bought vegan Worcestershire Sauce in prep!
It felt and behaved texturally like a dairy cheese, so Daiya was off to a good start. It had that whiff most vegan cheeses have. Many will be disappointed to learn it is another made from coconut oil.
At first I sliced the cheese and toasted my bread while warmed up the grill. It seemed to take an age to melt and I eventually gave up. I then grated it to see if that way worked better. It still took longer than expected, hence the bronzing of my bread. I was incredibly disappointed. Taste-wise I wouldn’t say it matched a good quality nutty cheddar, more like the cheaper supermarket versions.
I took to Twitter to voice my displeasure, especially at the £4.50 price tag. I was told by whomever manages Daiya’s account that the Shreds would have been better if I wanted a ‘melty’ cheese substitute. As I retorted, spending so much on a single grocery item means I wanted it to be multi-use. I worry that a product with a price tag like this will further compound the notion that to be vegan requires a hefty wage packet. Violife is half the price and more versatile, but I accept that Daiya is currently an import item and will attract a higher charge accordingly. I pay a little more for Wilmersburger and Follow Your Heart too but feel they are better value for money than this American alternative.
I wanted to love Daiya but couldn’t based on this experience. Perhaps the Mozzarella Shreds will rock my world. I shall keep you posted.
Thanks for reading,