I could not begin to count how many people have said to me “I could never give up cheese.” Well.. good news, you do not have to “give up” anything but the cruelty. I live on vegan cheese. No, it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but its far better than the cows milk version is for you.
When I was just a vegetarian a few years back, anytime I went out to eat, the only thing on the menu that was veg-friendly was smothered in cow’s milk cheese. For example, you go to a restaurant and think, I will just get the Eggplant Parmesan, it’s “healthy”..but what you really end up eating is a meal with high dairy content, high fat, and high cholesterol.
The best decision I ever made was switching to full out vegan. You instantly feel so much cleaner and healthier without all the unnecessary animal products in your system. Going out to eat now may not be the easiest thing in the world, but my convenience isn’t worth another beings life. And to be honest, there is just as much cruelty involved in the dairy industry, as in the meat industry.
Most people don’t even think about it, they think “cow’s need to be milked, it’s for their own good”. This may be true, but in order for the cows to be capable of producing milk in the first place is where the cruelty lies. They are pumped with hormones, artificially inseminated and must give birth. That calf is taken away from its mother and either slaughtered, given to a meat market for veal or bred to go through the same vicious cycle as its mother. Because don’t you think maybe the cow’s baby might need this milk a little more than humans do? This is the cost that each glass of cows milk and each slice of cows cheese have, and to be blunt, I do not think it’s worth this high price.
Now with that being said, alternative versions to cow’s milk cheese can be made from many sources. Such as: Soy Protein, Pea Protein, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Oil, Potato Starch, Fermented Tofu and Arrowroot Flours.
I will go through my top 2 alternatives for each category of cheeses that are used in the typical kitchen.
1. Field Roast Chao Slices: Creamy Original with Chao Tofu – It melts for grilled cheese, tastes great in a sandwich and even taste great right from the package. My life would truly be lacking without this product. (http://fieldroast.com/chaostory/)
2. Daiya: Swiss Style Slices – Makes for great panini’s (http://us.daiyafoods.com/products/dairy-free-cheese-slices/swiss-style-slices)
1. Daiya: Mozzarella Style Shreds: Taste great on pizza, pasta, wraps, etc. Melts and stretches. Has its own distinctive taste away from cows milk cheese, but this taste is a GOOD thing. (http://us.daiyafoods.com/products/dairy-free-cheese-shreds/mozzarella-style-shreds)
2. Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Shreds: Cheddar – NACHOS.. need I say more. (http://followyourheart.com/products/cheddar-shreds-10/)
1. Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese: Original Plain – I am a bagel addict and this cream cheese is the only one I turn to. Taste just like the real thing, but with no cholesterol and less fat. Can be used in place of any recipe that calls for cream cheese. For example, I made a vegan cheesecake with this product as the main ingredient to a group of non-vegans at work, and it has been requested multiple times since. (http://www.tofutti.com/dairy-free-cheeses/cream-cheese/better-than-cream-cheese/)
2. Follow Your Heart, GoVeggie! and Daiya also make cream cheese substitutes, however a second option is not required in this category.
1. GoVeggie! Dairy Free Parmesan Grated Topping – Tastes great as a parm substitute on pasta. I tend to use nutritional yeast more when others would seek out the parm, but that product will need an entire post of its own. Nutritional yeast really is THAT good. (http://www.goveggiefoods.com/products/grated-topping/dairy-free/parmesan)
2. Tofutti Better than Sour Cream: Original Plain – Great to make dips with (http://www.tofutti.com/dairy-free-cheeses/sour-cream/better-than-sour-cream/)