When you live a vegan lifestyle there a few things that you just have to do without. Well, at least until you come up with or find a recipe to replace the commercially available non-vegan alternative. When my family and I first started eating vegan, cutting out all animal products from our diet, cheese was something we just eliminated. I avoided every recipe I found that called for cheese, found other snack options for my incessantly hungry toddlers, and essentially resolved to the fact that we just wouldn’t enjoy cream sauces or cheese dip platters. The benefit of our health was worth the sacrifice and honestly if I hadn’t of found the vegan cheese alternatives listed below we would still be “cheese less” and just as healthy. Now however, our range of recipes and taste options is just a big larger because of these amazing cheese replacement options.
Here are the three vegan cheese alternatives I use in my home most frequently:
- Cashew Cream: Unlike other lists of this kind I am putting my most favorite, delicious, and versatile option first. Honestly, the day I made my first batch of cashew cream time stood still. I was in awe of how delicious something so simple could taste. I use cashew cream anywhere I need a creamy texture or a cheese like spread. You can blend the soaked cashews into just a simple cream and add it to sauces or curries for a cream sauce. Add a hefty spoonful on top of noodles for an alfredo sauce. Or better yet, add some lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and salt for a vegan sour cream. Spread this sour cream on top of baked potato slices and top with cilantro, viola you have a delicious appetizer. Cashew cream is so incredibly simple to make, you will kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier. Simple soak your cashews in filtered water over night (or in HOT water for 1 hour if short on time). Place in a high speed blender or food processor and cover slightly with water. Blend until creamy and smooth. Nothing more and nothing less. You will end up with a cream that is so smooth and delicious! You can thank me later or throw donations my way.
- Vegan cheese: If you’ve been a vegan for more than a couple of days surely you have already seen the vegan cheese options in your local grocery or health food store. This option does not act completely like non-vegan cheese but when you need a crumbly cheese alternative these are pretty tasty options. I use vegan cheese in sweet potato enchiladas and any other dish where I want cheese but have to bake the dish. Thankfully, most of the larger bands of vegan cheese are not full of nasty chemicals which you might initially expect. When eaten on occasion, this is a great option not laden with nasty fillers and additives.
- Nutritional Yeast: Truth be told before switching to a vegan lifestyle I had never heard of nutritional yeast. Honestly, doesn’t the name sound a bit odd and offensive. Why would anyone want to possibly eat something that sounds so repulsive? Oh but wait until you’ve tried it. You will regret waiting so long to enjoy its amazing flavor. What exactly is nutritional yeast? Well friends, it is simple an inactive yeast. What it lacks in simplicity though it makes up for in taste. It has a nutty cheesy taste and is amazing on popcorn, garlic bread, added to soups, stir-fry veggies, or on top of pasta. You might find nutritional yeast in your health food store labeled as nutritional yeast flakes or powder or even as savory yeast if you live outside of the United States. Nutritional yeast is also a great source of B12 which is an important vitamin for vegans.
So, whether you are a long-time vegan or are contemplating making the change in your lifestyle cheese taste is not something you have to do without. What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegan cheese options?