If you’ve gone vegan but have been missing dairy cheese in your life, the alternative is called vegan cheese.
Unlike ten or twenty years ago, you’re able to find vegan cheese in most supermarkets, and while it’s true that they’ve been around for a while, there are some questions that people have.
Here are 15 things you should know about vegan cheese.
1. What Is Vegan Cheese Made Of?
Unlike dairy cheese, vegan cheese doesn’t contain animal ingredients. It contains vegetable protein such as soy; nuts such as cashews or macadamias, and vegetable oils such as coconut oil.
Some vegan cheese can also be made with agar, tapioca, arrowroot, peas, and other ingredients.
While vegan cheese does rely on the fermentation process, it has a slightly different process than dairy cheese as the proteins in plant-based milk react differently to culturing agents and do not coagulate as dairy cheese does.
Plant proteins are separated using bacteria, then ingredients such as oil and thickeners are added to help create a firm consistency. Like dairy cheese, vegan cheese has to sit for a while for the proteins and bacteria to break down further.
Here is a quick video tour on how Myoko’s make their vegan cheese:
2. Is Vegan Cheese Healthy?
There has been extensive research about dairy consumption, and how it can be tied to diseases such as cancer, type-2 diabetes, along with other diseases.
One of the biggest studies done on dairy consumption – the China Study – showed that casein, the protein present in dairy, increased the growth of cancer cells.
Additionally, a study published by the National Cancer Institute found that women who ate the highest amount of cheese had a 53% increased risk for breast cancer partially due to the growth hormones in dairy.
Therefore, vegan cheese arises as a healthier alternative to dairy, as it does not contain any carcinogenic elements or saturated animal fat.
However, it’s important to point out that not all vegan cheese is created equal – as some contain high sodium and saturated fat, which stems from coconut oil, among other additives. Therefore, if possible, find a vegan cheese (or make yours at home) with a more simple ingredient composition, without oils or additives.
3. Does Vegan Cheese Have Cholesterol?
No, vegan cheese does not contain any cholesterol, as cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals.
Foods that come from plants do not have any cholesterol, which means there is no cholesterol in fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas, and lentils.
4. Does Vegan Cheese Have Lactose?
Yes, vegan cheese is completely lactose-free.
Unlike dairy cheese, vegan cheese does not contain the lactase enzyme, which can be found in mammals and humans (not all, hence lactose intolerants).
Therefore – it’s not a property that you will find in foods that are derived from plants.
5. Does Vegan Cheese Have Calcium?
While vegan cheese does not naturally contain calcium, it is, like other processed foods of plant-based origin, fortified with multiple vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium.
This is already common practice with most foods, including your favorite cereal brands, bread, eggs, regular milk, yogurt, among many other foods.
6. Is Vegan Cheese Keto?
Yes, I would say that most vegan cheeses are suitable for people following a keto diet, mainly because many vegan cheeses are made with nuts, which have a high-fat content.
For example, Myoko’s cashew-based cheeses are low in carbohydrates and high in fat, which is essentially what you want in a keto diet.
7. Does Vegan Cheese Melt?
Yes, vegan cheese does melt, but like dairy cheese, some varieties won’t melt perfectly.
Typically, the vegan cheeses that are more capable of melting tend to contain more additives and are more processed to melt and stretch.
Shredded and sliced vegan cheese is usually used for melting, and although there may be other formats that may be meltable, they’re generally not made with that in mind.
8. Does Vegan Cheese Taste Like Real Cheese?
To be honest, vegan cheese does not taste like dairy cheese in most cases, so if you’re looking for the perfect substitute, I don’t think vegan cheese will be the one.
Some vegan cheese can be reminiscent of vegan cheese, but the flavor is simply not the same, so if you’ve been a cheese lover all your life, I don’t think you will have the same experience.
However, this is something that might change in the future as companies develop ways to create formulas that replicate the same flavors – much like what’s happening with plant-based meats.
9. Why Is Vegan Cheese So Expensive?
There are probably many reasons why vegan cheese remains so expensive, but I think we can boil it down to supply and demand.
While veganism is growing, it’s still considered a niche market, particularly if we look at the population that consumes dairy cheese vs the population that consumes vegan cheese, particularly in developed countries.
Therefore, we can state that the market is still not well-optimized to meet the niche demand of vegan cheese (or even meat replacements), hence why the prices are still high.
The more the general population buys meat and dairy alternatives, and the more optimized the supply chain becomes, you will eventually come to see the affordable pricing of these foods.
10. Does Domino’s Have Vegan Cheese?
Unfortunately, in the United States and most European countries, Domino’s does not offer a plant-based alternative to dairy cheese.
However, in Australia, the pizza chain already seems to be offering vegan cheese, which you can request when building your pizza.
11. Does Pizza Hut Have Vegan Cheese?
Unfortunately, in the United States, Pizza Hut does not have any vegan cheese available, however, if you live in the United Kingdom, you’ll be glad to know that Pizza Hut has been serving vegan pizza with Violife’s vegan cheese, and more recently, they have also been offering vegan stuffed crust.
12. Does Papa John’s Have Vegan Cheese?
While Papa John’s does give you the option to order pizza without cheese (to make it vegan), they don’t have any vegan cheese available yet.
Even though there is some demand in the United States, many restaurants are still behind.
13. Does Papa Murphy’s Have Vegan Cheese?
No, Papa Murphy’s does not have any vegan cheese available, although they have been testing different vegan cheese options in specific regions of the United States for limited periods.
14. Does Mod Pizza Have Vegan Cheese?
Yes, Mod Pizza does make vegan pizzas with vegan cheese (from the Daiya brand), and they also have plant-based Italian sausage (from the Plantly brand).
15. Does Blaze Pizza Have Vegan Cheese?
Yes, Blaze Pizza serves vegan pizza with vegan-friendly cheese, as well as other ingredients such as their spicy vegan chorizo, and a rich variety of veggies.
They use Daiya shreds as their vegan cheese of choice.
Fortunately, veganism is growing, and vegan cheese is growing and gaining traction as a suitable alternative to dairy cheese.
Vegan cheese is often regarded as a more healthy alternative to dairy cheese, particularly due to the lack of carcinogenic proteins and growth hormones, but for cheese lovers, the flavor might not be there yet.
With the growth in demand and the optimization of recipes and food technology, it’s possible that eventually the flavor of dairy cheese may be replicated in a vegan alternative that is healthier and cruelty-free.