Question number two in our series about veganism. Send your questions to email@example.com and I’ll answer them!
Illustration by Laura Goldstone.
How’d ya cut the cheese barrier (harhar)? No, really. -Dyana, Los Angeles
When I went vegan almost three years ago, I decided I would only give it a shot for a couple of weeks. I told myself that I would give myself a time limit, because I didn’t feel confident about my ability to go full fledge veg! I knew milk, eggs, honey, and meats would be no problem… but cheese, however, would be a challenge. CHEESE! I used to put it on everything, or just cut off slices and eat em solo. I’d melt it on everything. I’d eat it unmelted on everything! I couldn’t even pass up cheese samples at the grocery store. I. LOVED. CHEESE.
Guess what, though? Going without cheese is TOTALLY DOABLE! Isn’t that the best news ever? I’m here to assure you there is life after cheese. What a total relief. Without a doubt, most of the questions I get when I tell people I am vegan, have to do with cheese.
“Don’t you miss cheese? Oh, I’d never be able to give up cheese.”
Sidenote: I really don’t think of veganism as “giving up” anything, and you shouldn’t either, weather you are vegan or not! Rather, I choose not to eat those things. My choice is what is important to me– it is the most powerful weapon that I have and I use it with intention. I don’t feel like I’m deprived or that I am “giving up” anything. Isn’t that a glorious realization?
With a bit of Googling, you can find recipes for just about every type of cheese to make yourself, which will be dairy free and/or soy free (I just tried “soy free dairy free cheese recipes” and that worked, you can also try “soy free vegan cheese recipes”, to get different selections). This is where your food processor would come in, although I think a blender would work too–I’ve just never tried it myself. Most of these recipes are nut based. I’ve had great results with walnuts, cashews, and almonds for cheeses…you’ll have to add things like lemon, or mustard, or both! Some of these will call for “nutritional yeast”– you can try messing around with that stuff but I don’t think it’s necessary, plus it’s expensive and can be tough to find. Also, it might sound weird, but I LOVE pureeing gourds like butternut squash or pumpkin and using them like a cheese sauce! Try it with seasoning if you haven’t already–so good!
Another tip: you might find things that might normally use cheese can actually taste better WITHOUT any substitute! Try any pizza with loaded up toppings, extra sauce, and no cheese. Pizza without cheese sounds weird, but it’s amazing!
Also, panninis! I make my panninis with a ton of hummus, not cheese, and they are absolutely devine! The best part is, you can make your own hummus at home as well!
I use avocado a lot where I once would have used cheese, especially on burgers or in pastas. So good! It’s the creamy goodness. Devine!
One last note about cheese: If you find that you really miss it and need it, give Daiya a shot. I will warn you, manufactured cheese substitutes generally taste like CRAP and often aren’t worth the effort…but Daiya is the best tasting of them, is soy free, and actually makes an attempt at melting like dairy cheese. If you are interested, try the “Havarti wedge”. It’s the best tasting one. Also, news flash! I just read that Daiya is releasing spreads and slices. See you at the grocery store!
A cheeseless existence is a delicious one, still full of ooey, gooey salty deliciousness. Do you have any favorite vegan recipes that satisfy your cheese tooth?