I loved cheese. And cheese loved me. No lactose-intolerance here, that’s for sure. In fact, I never met a cheese I didn’t like.
Wheels of Brie, chunks of parm, feta on my salad, ricotta in my lasagne, blue cheese on a burger and a smattering of mozzarella on my pizza. And embarrassingly, even spray cheese. Triscuits, cheese and fruit (for decoration) on a plate? Hello dinner! One cheese appetizer that I may or may not have consumed, was deep fried and served with marinara sauce.
But when I decided to eat a plant-based diet, cheese had to go. Or did it?
These days, there are many “cheeses” out there. Some are made of coconut oil, others are almond or cashew based. For the most part, gone are the plastic shreds and weirdly flavored faux chesses of yore. Miyoko’s Creamery for example is fantastic! It spreads, it melts and it’s a game changer. You can find it at Whole Foods, I’ve seen it at Nugget Markets and other stores.
I’ve also had good luck with Daiya shredded cheese. Trader Joe’s has a good almond-milk cheese too. Buy a small size (because you may hate it) and test it out in a few things. Maybe not starting out with grilled cheese or a cheese sauce, rather a shmear of vegan cream cheese on a bagel or mix a bit into some beans and rice or on a taco.
And if you hate faux cheese after trying it out, just skip it altogether (I did that for almost 2 years) or maybe even try making your own.
The DIY Route
I’ve made cashew cream and potato-based ‘cheese’ sauces. Click the link below to learn about cashew cream, its versatility and how to make it.
There are also a ton of cheese-making books out there. Like, making plant-based versions of ricotta, mozzarella, parm, blue cheese, etc. One book on my list is “This Cheese is Nuts!” by Julia Piatt. I like her hippy vibe and her approach to cooking. Maybe I’ll put this book on my birthday wish list. (It’s Feb 22. Just sayin’).
For the Animals
I try to stay off of this topic because it’s so polarizing. However, you can’t talk about dairy without mentioning animal-welfare.
There’s no question in my mind that the treatment of animals (our food source) is abysmal. I’m sure there are exceptions but most of our food in the US comes from factory farming. It’s not good for us, the environment or the animals.
I’ll just leave it at this. If you eat cheese and drink dairy, do some research and find a dairy farm that has humane and responsible practices and buy your products there. I know, it’s a luxury but I think it’s worth it.
I’ll send you off today with a cheesy wave and a reminder to branch out and test some of the new nut cheeses on the market. Remember, not all cheese (dairy or nut) is healthy so read the label, check out the ingredient list and use it as a condiment versus the main dish.
For your health.
Now go run!