If the only thing holding you back from making the switch from vegetarianism to veganism is that you can’t imagine giving up cheese, you’re in luck. Vegan cheese is a real thing you can buy. It’s 100 percent plant-based and just as delicious as dairy cheeses. There are many vegan kinds of cheese on the market that not only look like dairy cheese, but taste and melt like it, too.
What Is Vegan Cheese Made Of?
Dairy cheese is made by coagulating milk with beneficial bacteria called starter cultures and a milk-clotting enzyme called rennet. Contrastingly, vegan cheeses are made from a variety of plant-based sources including tofu, nuts, oils and nutritional yeast. Depending on the type of cheese you want to make, oils, emulsifiers and thickeners can also be added to change the texture.
The Best Vegan Cheeses
There are so many options when it comes to choosing vegan cheeses that it can be hard to find one that fits your tastes. Fortunately, we’ve gathered a list of all the best-rated vegan cheeses for your convenience. Check out the list below to find some of the top plant-based cheeses on the market:
Chao Creamy Original
This vegan cheese has a creamy consistency and rich flavor that tastes amazing when a slice is simply added cold to a sandwich or shredded and sprinkled over a salad. Chao Creamy Original is made from fermented tofu and coconut oil, and you won’t be able to tell the difference between it and dairy cheese.
Kite Hill Ricotta
Vegan lasagna lovers can now rejoice because there is a dairy-free option for silky, tangy ricotta. This vegan cheese is buttery and versatile — you can toss it into any Italian dish or even use it to make a vegan cheesecake.
Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds
If you’re a fan of melting cheese over nachos or making quesadillas, this vegan option will not disappoint. Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds are specifically designed to melt and bubble like real cheese. It’s made from pea protein, tapioca flour, canola oil, coconut oil and other vegan-friendly ingredients and makes the perfect pizza topping.
Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese
Fit for the bagel of your choice, this almond-based cheese with chives is nearly indistinguishable from run-of-the-mill cream cheese. Smear this cream cheese all over a bagel or use it as a dairy-free veggie dip to enjoy its tangy flavor and velvety texture.
Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative
This cheese is perfect for anyone who cannot fathom the idea of eating pasta without sprinkling some parmesan cheese on top and it can fool just about anyone, even devout cheese lovers. The distinct flavor comes from the chickpea fermented miso paste added to this dairy-free cheese. Sprinkle it onto anything, from fresh pasta to homemade pizza to microwave popcorn.
Kite Hill Soft Fresh Original Almond Cheese
When constructing a cheese board for a dinner party, vegan is not exactly the first word that comes to mind. This Brie-like cheese from Kite Hill, however, might just change your mind. The Soft Fresh Original cheese has a creamy texture that pairs well with nuts, olives, fresh greens and pickled vegetables. Add this Kite Hill version to the cheese spread at your next party — your vegan friends with thank you.
Treeline Treenut Cheeses
Fans of aged cheddar will appreciate the work that goes into these artisanal plant-based cheeses. Treeline Treenut Cheese uses naturally cultured and aged cashew nuts to create a rich base to their cheeses. Choose from flavors such as cracked pepper, green peppercorn and herb-garlic. Their smooth texture is best when smeared over your favorite cracker.
Punk Rawk Labs Dairy-Free Nutmilk Cheeses
All of Punk Rawk’s cheeses are made from only four base ingredients — organic cashews, water, culture and salt. But despite the simplistic base, the different cheeses contain varying seasonings that produce flavors including cashew of the woods, nacho and cashew smoked.