Traditional cheese is made from casein, which is a protein present in animal milk such as cows, pigs, buffalo and sheep. Since vegan cheeses can not contain casein, vegan cheese producers turn to a variety of other substitute ingredients.
Dairy cheese is produced through a fermentation process involving animal milk, rennet – a digestive enzyme derived from the stomach, vegetables, or synthetic sources of the calf – and organisms which start.
Vegan cheese is made in a similar way, but instead of animal milk it involves consolidating protein from different plant sources, often nuts and seeds. Separate the proteins with lactic bacteria and fats, using emulsifiers and thickeners for texture. Many vegan cheeses are aged like dairy cheeses, but the plant proteins, unlike the proteins in animal milk, do not necessarily bind to each other. That is why vegan cheese is not as flavourful or sharp as dairy cheese.
Is Vegan Cheese Healthier?
Unlike traditional dairy cheese, vegan cheese can be made with too many different ingredients.
What is unquestionable is that vegan cheese is safer than cheese made from milk. Being free of growth hormones, carcinogenic animal proteins and saturated animal fat which boosts cholesterol makes vegan cheese healthier for you than its dairy equivalents.
In short, is vegan cheese healthy, then? There’s just too much variance to get a conclusive answer. Some vegan cheeses are heavily refined and have little nutritional value. But some have a shorter list of more identifiable ingredients while still providing great amounts of useful nutrients. So this is really a case-by-case basis.
While it is not advisable to eat vegan cheese by the wheel, especially those made using coconut oil, in moderation it can be an enjoyable part of a balanced diet.
Will Vegan Cheese Melt?
It’s an exciting time to come alive with all the wonderful variety and range of vegan cheeses, but it is very difficult to find any cheese that plays well with pizza or lasagne.
If you’d like a good idea of how the various brands will melt, Veganbaking.net conducted a cheesy research, doing a nut-based vegan cheese review with this Big Vegan Cheese Review. There are dozens of other brands on the markets but the ones reviewed in this article are known for their quality. Other than a melt test, they also looked at other factors such as taste and nutrition as well.
For a more DIY approach, here’s a melty cheese recipe Vegan Grilled Cheese With Cheese That Melts! to make the best toasted cheese you’ll have since giving up dairy. With it, you can now grill your sandwich to perfection and enjoy a melty grilled cheese like the ones you are used to.
Can Vegan Cheese Go Bad?
Yes they do and it differs greatly from brand / type, some within 2 months after opening, some will even start having mold spots 3 days later.
The higher the fat, the lower the water, the longer it can be sustained. If you have only cocoa-oil cheese slices and some flavours, they can last for quite a while and then dry out at best. In the worst case scenario when they do turn bad, you will be sure to know that.
Camambert / brie style and vegan cream cheese typically turn bad really fast after opening so do consume them within a week.
Other than what it says on the label, trust your eyes and nose. If it looks or smells impaired in any way, that’s your clue.
Where To Buy Vegan Cheese?
Speciality stores sell them and Amazon.com or their mobile app does not really sell vegan cheese. However, what they do have are recipe books and kits that help and teach you how to make delicious Vegan Cheese right at home. Here are some of our recommendations.
In general, vegan cheese should not be considered a health food. Can it be a part of a healthy diet, just like dairy cheese? Absolutely. And as always, the type of food you’re putting the cheese on is equally important.
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