Entering the world of vegan cheese
This was supposed to be the year I went (almost) vegan. I’d really like to try to reduce the impact my diet has on the planet, and going vegan seems to be one of the simplest ways to do that. I even put it on my 30 Before 30 List to help motivate me. Sadly, I haven’t made much progress. There are some things I’ve found really easy and which have made a quick difference, like switching from cows’ milk to oat milk. But there are some things that have been more of a hurdle. Primary among these (barring my love of sushi) is cheese. I eat quite a lot of cheese, not just with bread/for lunches (which I have managed to significantly cut down on), but in cooking. Some of my favourite recipes, like baked pepper (/capsicum) gnocchi, and halloumi burgers involve decadent quantities of cheese. It’s hard to imagine these recipes without cheese, but it’s also hard to imagine a vegan swap that would really do them justice. With the deadline for my 30 before 30 fast approaching, I thought now is the time: I need to take the plunge and give vegan cheese a proper go.
I’ve played it fairly safe with my first dive, going for a vegan version of one of my favourite cheeses (albeit a rather basic choice). Boursin was a family favourite growing up, and once I got to uni it made its way into numerous pasta dishes as a simple way to get a lot of flavour. Could it be that a vegan version lives up to all those tasty memories? Enter The Vegan Dairy’s Garlic Herb Boursin. It’s not too much to say that I was kind of blown away by this cheese. I really didn’t go in with high expectations – there’s just something so specifically delicious about the real thing. But this was an incredibly pleasant surprise! Crafted from organic cashews, organic coconut oil, and not much else, the cheese has perhaps a little bit more tang than the original, but I’d be hard put to tell the difference. It actually has a smoother texture than the original, making it easy to slather over thick slices of crusty bread. It has a satisfying level of garlic – not too much, but enough that you might fancy a mint after. It is, simply put, a perfect dupe for its non-vegan originator.
One mark against it is the price: at just shy of $15 a pop, it is certainly more expensive than the non-vegan version. However, although this price is hefty, it is still well in line with what you’d expect to pay for an artisanal cheese, and perfectly understandable given the small scale on which it is produced. Perhaps expensive enough that it won’t be going in your weekly shop, but a delicious treat for when you’re feeling a bit fancy.
The Vegan Dairy’s efforts are a delightful introduction to the world of non-dairy cheese, and have left me feeling optimistic and excited about my future explorations. There is vegan hope for this cheese addict yet!
What are your favourite vegan cheeses? They seem to be enjoying a bit of a golden age at the moment, with new ones popping up all over the place! If there are any that you think I should try, please do share them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!