Cheese seems to be the one of the main reasons that so many vegetarians put off eliminating animal products from their diets. I have plenty of friends that have soy milk in their tea, don't wear leather and avoid eggs but will often have a block of cheese in the fridge. Well, with the advent and evolution of some remarkable nut-based cheese it looks like it is time for dairy cheese to move over! Here is our list of what we think are the very best vegan cheeses.
The Winner: Mouse's Favourite Camembert
If you are stuck on cheese this is the place to start! I often joke with omnivorous friends that vegan alternatives are made from 'vegan magic' but I think that this may be genuinely true of Mouse's Favourite Camembert. The texture is smooth, the taste pungent and the rind (yes there is a rind!) adds additional flavour. This cheese delivers on every level and is particularly delicious on charcoal crackers.
Other Flavours: Valencay Style, Cider Washed Rinds & Rich Aged Dulse as well as a variety of creamed cheeses
Priced at £7.45 and available from Cariad Wholefoods (Dorset), GreenBay (London), The Incredible Nutshell (Sheffield) & a selection of shops in France
Runner Up: Tyne Chease Smoked
Tyne Chease are working cashew nut based wonders in their northern vegan dairy. I came across their delicious cheeses nearly two years ago and was amazed by the rich flavour and fattiness of each cheese. While I am a huge fan of all of their cheeses the smoked one really made me happy with the garlic coming in a close second. The texture of these cheeses may not work for everyone (especially those who are still eating dairy cheese or recent converts to plant-based eating) as they are quite heavy and thick but for me this is where the joy is as the flavour really sticks to your pallet and keeps giving.
Flavours: Rosemary, Za'atar Spice, Cranberry, Macadamia Truffle, Smoked, Garlic, Cashew Truffle, Ethiopian Spice, Sundried Tomato, Mustard, Original, Dill, Pink Peppercorn, Chilli Flakes & a selection of creamed cheeses
Priced at £7.50 and available from a large variety of independent health food shops throughout the country.
3 - Nutcrafter Creamery Air Aged Garlic
Nutcrafter Creamery make outstanding cheeses and were absolutely nipping at the heals of Tyne Chease with only value for money setting them apart. While both the above cheeses are quite expensive, Nutcrafter are the dearest of those listed here and while I think that their considered and well executed flavours make them a firm favourite for a special Christmas cheeseboard, I find it hard to justify spending £8.50 and more at other times of the year. If you are as excited about vegan cheese as I am you absolutely must give these guys a go, you won't be disappointed; the air aged roasted garlic is full of flavour and deeply delicious as is their extra aged Gomasio.
Flavours: Nutzarella, Out of the Blue, Extra Aged Gomasio, Air Aged Dulse, Fresh Chive, Air Aged Black Peppercorn, Cellar Reserve Espresso, Air Aged Smoked Chipotle, Air Aged Roasted Garlic, Air Aged Sundried Tomato, Extra Aged Charcoal as well as as election of creamed cheeses, Parmesan and vegan butter.
Priced at £8.50 and available from Planet Organic and a large variety of independent health food shops throughout the country and Europe
4 - Bute Island Sheese Red Cheddar
Bute Island Foods have been in the vegan cheese game for a long time and have been delivering affordable and great tasting alternatives to our vegan tables since 1988. These guys have also been part of the vegan cheese revolution in supermarkets, supplying the likes of Tesco and helping to make kinder living easier and bringing dairy-free alternatives to a whole new audience. Sheese Red Cheddar is one of my favourite sandwich cheeses. It melts really well, so if you are feeling like a toastie, this is the way forward. It is tangy, flavourful and lends a nice kick to your traditional cheese and salad sarny.
Flavours: Blue, Cheddar, Mature, Mild Cheddar, Smoked Cheddar, Red Cheddar, White Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Greek and Wensleydale as well as a great selection of creamed and pre-grated cheese.
Priced at (around) £2.80 and available from Tesco (as Tesco branded free from cheese), Holland & Barrett and variety of independent health food shops.
5 - VBites Cheezly Hard Italian Style Cheeze
If you are looking for a little extra something to pep up your pasta then this is the cheese for you! It is tangy and flavourful with our (Italian!) editor in chief stating that she would never have guessed that she wasn't eating a traditional parmesan. This cheese is also firm enough to 'shave' if you are going for that gourmet look with your roast pumpkin risotto or pesto gnocchi. Cheezly is the most affordable cheese listed here and is great value for money.
Flavours: Blue Style, Edam, Hard Italian Style, Mozzarella, Pepperjack , Red Cheddar, White Cheddar and Soya Free
Priced at £2.29 and available from selected Morrisons, Ocado and health food shops.