With the abundance and variety of vegan cheese options available today, there are now more dairy-free cheese choices than ever. So yes, you can have your cheese and eat it too!
Whether you are looking for something to serve on a fruit and cheese platter, need an ingredient for your classic lasagna, or want a tasty sprinkle for Taco Tuesday, this vegan cheese guide has options for everything. You need these plant-powered cheeses in your life!
We have a confession to make—we love cheese. Unfortunately, traditional dairy-based cheeses cause a lot of unnecessary suffering for dairy cows and goats, and they can cause a lot of health complications in humans, too. That’s why we decided to ditch dairy-based cheeses for the often-misunderstood but oh-so-yummy world of vegan cheeses.
If you’re anything like we were, you’re probably confused about just what vegan cheese is, where you can find it, how you can make it yourself, and if it’s as nasty as some people make it out to be (spoiler: nope). So we put together this guide for people like you who are considering adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle, even part-time.
I wasn’t born a vegan. Oh, no. I was very much brought up in a traditional American household (see my vegan story here) with lots and lots of meat, milk, and cheese. Meat, I could do without, to be honest, which made it easy for me to go vegetarian when I was just 8 years old. But milk? And cheese? They were my jam.
So when I picked up a copy of Animal Liberation at a used bookstore in college and learned that the dairy industry was even more horrifying as the meat industry, I was feeling overwhelmed, to say the least. I knew I wanted to stop eating dairy and fairly quickly transitioned to soy and almond milk. But cheese?
At the time I dumped it on everything—pasta with loads of parmesan, pizza loaded with mozz. There was cheese in my go-to burritos, sandwiches, quesadillas, you name it. Whatever I was eating, it was hardly a complete meal without cheese. This was going to be hard.
And let me tell you, at the time (a decade ago), there weren’t a zillion vegan cheese options like there are today. In fact, there weren’t any in my college town of Cleveland, Ohio. So I went without.
Painful? Surprisingly, not really! I thought it was going to be a huge challenge, a sacrifice I was making for the animals. But truth be told, I quickly acclimated to equally delicious (and far healthier) alternatives.
My go-to? Avocado with salt. Cheese is essentially just fat and salt, so salted avocado (or guacamole) did the trick in my burritos, sandwiches, and beyond. And in place of parmesan one my pasta I would add olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast (nooch), a combo I still often turn to today. Or I’ll just use marinara sauce instead!
Luckily, today you don’t have to ‘give up’ cheese to go vegan. There are vegan versions of every style of cheese you can imagine, and new options are coming out all the time. It’s true, some of them are not so great, but others are aaaaaah-mazing! Enjoy the adventure.
So now that we’ve told you how I transitioned (and grew to love!) vegan cheeses, you’ve probably got a few questions about what vegan cheese is best for you, where you can buy it, and more.
Hopefully our Q&A below can answer all of your questions. If you have another question about vegan cheeses, feel free to reach out and we’d be glad to help!
Simply put, vegan cheese is any cheese that isn’t sourced from a lactating animal’s milk, such as from a mother cow or momma goat.
Unlike lactose-free milk, which is still sourced from a cow but with lactose (a kind of sugar) removed, vegan cheese can be made from nuts, seeds, vegetables, or other plant-based sources. However, vegan cheese will never be derived from an animal or their milk.
Whatever you want it to taste like!
While vegan cheese has sort of a bad rap as being bland and bad at melting, we can assure you that for the most part, it’s anything but.
Vegans and vegetarians around the world have veganized pretty much every cheese you can imagine, from savoury cheddars to sharp parmesans, salty fetas to decadent bries and camemberts.
If you’re more of a DIY foodie or just someone who loves experimenting in the kitchen, then you’ll be excited to learn that you can whip up all kinds of vegan cheeses from scratch in your own kitchen. We recommend trying this vegan cheese recipe and picking up a copy of a vegan cheesemaking cookbook (there are actually several of these!). You can also check out our vegan cheese board on Pinterest for inspiration.
If you don’t quite feel ready to make your own vegan cheese or simply don’t have the time or interest to cook (we feel ya), then you’ll want to check out some of the most popular vegan cheese brands out there.
If you’re looking for a pre-made vegan cheese that:
…then friend, have we got some delicious dairy-free cheeses to tell you about!
Today you can find vegan mozzarella, dairy-free cheddar, vegan parmesan, plant-based ricotta, gourmet vegan cheeses, dairy-free cheese shreds, plant-based cheese slices, vegan cheese blocks, vegan nacho cheese sauce, vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, and beyond. Look out for the following vegan cheese brands in stores!
These are the most popular and most widely available, but there are many, many, many more coming to life both regionally and internationally!
If you’re looking for more vegan cheese goodness, then you’ll love our “Battle of the Vegan Cheddar Cheeses.” We do a live taste-test comparison of four of the most popular vegan cheddar cheese brands out there. Surprisingly, we reached a unanimous decision on the best, but you’ll have to watch the video to find out who won!
Whatever your skill level and however well your kitchen is equipped, there’s a vegan cheese recipe out there for you.
However, we minimally recommend that anyone interested in a healthy plant-strong diet has the following in their kitchen.
Needless to say, choosing dairy-free is easier today than it ever has been before. No longer does it require sacrifice. Enjoy the adventure, friends!
In the year 2022, vegan cheese is not only readily available but it has also never been more delicious. It wasn’t even that long ago that meltable vegan cheese was an outlier! Store-bought vegan cheese has come a very, very long way over the past few decades.
Remember when vegan cheese wouldn’t even stay melted for more than 20 seconds? Well, we do! Thankfully there are plenty of brands available today with totally meltable options. In this guide we’ll feature recipes for homemade vegan cheese. Some call for nuts or seeds while others rely on tofu but all of them are easy, accessible, and delicious. Whether you’re looking for something to spread on a sandwich or a unique vegan fromage to serve at a fancy dinner, we’ve got you covered.
A super easy vegan cheese recipe for the holidays, our almond-based log comes together in just over a half hour! Great with crackers, bread, veggies, and more.
Want a vegan cheese recipe that’ll spice up your life? Then you need this delicious chipotle vegan parmesan! Great on salads, pastas, popcorn and even for crusting around tofu! Also makes an incredible homemade gift.
This unique and delicious plant-based cheese recipe from From My Bowl is made from only five simple ingredients! Oil-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, this vegan cheese is perfect for spreading on a sandwich or eating on a cracker. Even lasts up to a week in the fridge!
One of our favorite vegan cheese recipes is this creamy plant-based ricotta from Rachel Steenland. Made from a blend of tofu, spices, and nutritional yeast, you just may find yourself adding this vegan ricotta onto everything you make. Pasta? Check! Salad? Check! Green bean casserole? Check!
It’s not always easy to find plant-based cheese recipes that both stretches and melts. Thankfully this vegan mozzarella by Steph Sunshine is here to save the day! The magic ingredients to this vegan cheese are tapioca flour and agar agar flakes, along with cashews, coconut oil, water, salt, and lemon juice. Perfect for frying into vegan mozzarella sticks, melting onto pizza, or just enjoying on its own!
Ever dreamed of a day where you’d be able to enjoy a savory, comforting bite of some vegan feta cheese? Well, that day is here! This amazingly easy vegan cheese recipe requires just a handful of everyday ingredients and a few hours to set.
This recipe not only features a super easy vegan cheese dip but also delicious pretzel bites to eat with it! All you need is to combine the ingredients in a sauce pan and heat them up. Absolutely perfect for a vegan cheese party!
Sometimes all you need is a big old bowl of the best vegan queso ever, a bag of chips, and a good movie. Cashews, tofu, buffalo sauce, and more make up the base of this awesomely simple dairy-free queso. Feeling extra adventurous? Go ahead and make some vegan quesadillas to devour with it!
If you like your vegan cheese a little funky, then this dairy-free cheese recipe for blue cheese by Hannah Kaminsky will rock your world. Nut-free and made from fermented Chinese tofu, white beans, and more, this vegan blue cheese packs quite a pungent punch. Crumble on salads, eat with crackers, or even make your own vegan charcuterie board.
There’s nothing quite like the unbeatable combination of sweet and savory. This amazing holiday recipe for vegan cheese from Very Vegan Val is absolutely perfect for a spread, party, or special occasion. Even better is that it’ll only take less than an hour from start to finish! Cheers to that!
While “dairy-free” and “lactose-free” cheeses can be vegan, beware! They aren’t always.
Some lactose-free cheeses are made from dairy milk, with the lactose sugars simply removed. Others are made from plant-based ingredients like soy, but have some dairy derivatives added in (such as “casein” which is the protein found in mammalian milk).
So…you may come across a cheese labeled “Dairy-Free Soy Cheese” and pick it up with great enthusiasm assuming it’s vegan. But—it may not be! So be sure to always check the ingredient list until you become familiar with which options are good-to-go.
With that disclaimer out of the way, there are tons of vegan cheeses out there, and even many fully-vegan cheese brands (such as those listed above). It truly gets easier, more delicious, and more accessible every day!
It depends on the cheese. Whatever food allergies or restrictions you may have, there’s probably a vegan cheese out there for you, though.
Many store-bought vegan cheeses are made from soy, nuts, or tapioca flour. Nut-based vegan cheeses are arguably the most popular bases for homemade vegan cheeses, with almond- and cashew-based cheeses being quite common.
However, you’re increasingly more likely to find zucchini-, sunflower seed-, and coconut-based vegan cheeses as well.
Soaked nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds blend beautifully to create all sorts of creamy foods. If you blend them with lots of water, you’ll get nut milk. If you blend them with some liquid and flavorful ingredients and spices, you can make dressings and cheesy sauces. And with even less liquid and some fun techniques that you’ll find in vegan cheese recipes all across the web, you can get delicious vegan cheese.
Nuts and seeds naturally contain healthy fats. When blended with salt and flavorings, these wholesome ingredients can beautifully emulate the fattiness and creaminess of dairy cheese.
Soy is an amazing base for vegan cheeses and often leads to a final product that tastes the most like dairy cheese.
It surprises many to learn that soybeans are the same as edamame, the green beans you may have had at a Japanese restaurant. These magical little beans have been a healthful and protein-rich staple in many cultures since ancient times.
Today we turn to soybeans to make soy milk, tofu (see how tofu is made), vegan meats, cheeses, and beyond.
And don’t worry, for those who have been confused by rumors in the media, there’s no reason to be afraid of soy. Unless you’re allergic, of course!
Yes and no.
While vegan cheeses don’t contain any artery-clogging cholesterol (cholesterol is only found in animal products) and usually have very little saturated fat (often none at all), they can still be high-calorie and high in salt or preservatives, especially if you purchase store-bought vegan cheeses.
If you’re eating a primarily whole foods plant-based diet, a little fat and salt in your cheese is nothing to worry about. It’s important to have balance and healthy fats, friends!
But don’t go crazy. Let’s leave the world where we dump piles of cheese on every meal behind us, shall we?
We’ve noticed more and more chain grocery stores stocking vegan-friendly cheeses in recent years.
If you can’t find a vegan cheese you like at your local supermarket, we recommend putting in a request to your grocery store! You can also check out Sprouts, Whole Foods, or your local Natural Foods store as they’ll likely have many options.
Want a little extra help breaking the dairy addiction? We’ve got you! Check out our e-course, The 12-Day Dairy Detox. We’ll hold your hand and show you the way. You’ll be embracing dairy-free-dom in no time!
We hope you found this guide for vegan cheese recipes to be helpful, inspiring, and mouthwatering! Be sure to check out our links to additional vegan cheese resources down below and feel free to shout out your favorite brands or recipes in the comments below!