Dairy-free Cheese is estimated to reach global sales of 3.9 Billion by 2024. That is a lot of vegan cheese. With so many dairy-free cheese options, it’s hard to know which is best for your situation. Whether you are making a decadent grazing board or topping a pizza, choosing the right type of dairy-free cheese is essential.
The market for dairy-free cheese is a minefield, with some amazing products and others that taste like plastic. However, we are in the midst of a revolution, with food science progressing at an incredible pace. This opens the door to not only quality vegan cheese products but many other alternative products that look, taste and feel like the original.
You may have begrudgingly removed cheese from your diet for ethical or dietary reasons and feel like nothing will ever compare to cheese again. But we are here to tell you that you can now have your cake and eat it too. If you want super melty cheese for your sandwich, it’s yours. If you want creamy delicious feta for your salad, it’s also yours.
We are going to walk through the dairy-free cheese process and cover the topics that you need to be aware of to choose the perfect vegan cheese for you.
- How is it made?
- What are the different types?
- What version is best for different types of occasion?
- Who does it best? and;
- Where can you buy it?
How Dairy-Free Cheese Is Made
The cheese making process is quite similar between dairy and non-dairy cheese. In its simplest form, cheese making is the process of introducing bacteria and enzymes to milk in order to create fermentation and curdling. This is then collected to ultimately produce cheese.
In non-dairy cheese, this process can be repeated with a plant-based milk. The cultures or bacteria used are almost all vegan which allows the same process for a dairy cheese to be replicated using different plant milk or nuts. An aging process is sometimes used with nut cheeses to develop richness in flavour and to firm the cheese. Some cheeses use agar agar, a natural vegetable gelatin counterpart, to create their form or tapioca starch for thickness and stretch.
Types of Vegan Cheese
Soy cheese is an obvious start for dairy-free cheese. It is often the first substitute for milk in our coffee and it is no different in cheese making. Dairy cheese can be hard or soft as can soy cheese. Soy cheese is mostly known for melty varieties. Using a combination of coconut oil and starches to create melt & stretch. It is also completely lactose-free.
Typically made from soy milk, tofu, or a combination of both, this type of dairy-free cheese is perfect for almost every meal situation. You can find great camembert, mozzarella, havarti and now even life-changing haloumi. Even though soy cheese can come in many different varieties, I like it best for melting.
Best for: Pizza, Toasties, Burgers, and Saganaki
Who Does It Best: Hello Friend Foods, Yay! Foods, Damona, Tofutti
Giant leaps in innovation are occurring in the nut-based cheese industry. The science of fermentation through nut varieties has transformed this entire industry and created its own culture (pun intended). From cashew, macadamia, almond and even pine nuts, these types of vegan cheeses are now becoming more available.
The fermentation process with nut-based cheese breaks down the enzymes, allowing simplified digestion. Many people who struggle with nuts find this form much easier to digest.
Popular types of nut-based cheeses are feta, camembert, brie, chevre, aged and cream cheeses. Which makes this variety of vegan cheese perfect for entertaining with platters, wine pairing or a quiet night in with your favourite movie.
Best for: Crumbling over a salad, cheese boards, gourmet sandwiches & wraps
Who Does It Best: Artisa, The Vegan Dairy, Lauds, Sprout & Kernel, Alive & Wild
Coconut Oil Cheese
Most of the larger, supermarket-based, brands use coconut oil as their base. While cheaper and readily available, this type of cheese has a way to go in rivaling traditional cheese in taste and texture. Which is why it can be hit and miss with brands using this method. The process, however, can be scaled easily and is cost-effective, which is why these brands take up the majority of space in the supermarket.
Coconut oil cheese also comes in a variety of types, much like soy cheese. From cream cheese to cheddar, mozzarella, and many more.
Best for: Pizza, Toasties, Melting, and Cream Cheese for spreads
Who Does It Best: Sheese, My Life Bio (Bio Cheese), Daiya, Green Vie
Get It At Most Supermarkets
As the demand for high-quality alternative cheeses grows, so does the number of artisan producers. Their attention to detail in producing a range of organic, raw, gluten free, soy free or nut free vegan cheese is what we crave in dairy-free alternatives. In Australia, we are lucky to have some of the world’s best dairy-free cheesemakers. You would have seen their creations on social media or at farmers markets if they happen to be in your local area. However, it can be difficult to track down each of these artisan producers, especially the ones you didn’t know existed.
Luckily for us all, the fellow cheese lovers at The Vegan Cheese Shop opened an online store bringing together the best varieties from Australian artisan producers, making them available Australia Wide. You can filter through the different options to make your choice with ease. In my case filtering to all the gluten-free varieties. I can select a few different producers from Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales. Click a button and before you know it, I have high quality, artisan produced, vegan cheese arriving at my door in insulated cold packaging.
No matter what your indulgence is, dairy-free or not, this collection of vegan cheese is exceptional. So for your next big event, birthday, wedding or if you are just planning a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Do yourself and everyone a favour and buy some high-quality vegan cheese that everyone can enjoy.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner, The Vegan Cheese Shop