A Complete Guide to Vegetarian Cheese: Benefits, Recipes, Tips
Technically, vegetarians can consume dairy as this diet doesn’t prohibit this kind of animal-based products. However, many people choose to forego them, but does this mean that you can’t get any cheese? Of course not as there are some great vegan and vegetarian cheese options to choose from.
This food is not only exceptionally delicious and available in a variety of flavors. It’s also highly nutritious and can be very good for your body.
First of all, we need to define the difference between vegetarian and vegan cheeses. The former can be made from milk of any kind. However, they must not contain rennet, the enzyme used to turn milk into cheese. This element is derived from the stomachs of slaughtered calves and it’s used for creating the majority of cheeses. A vegan cheese is usually based on plant milks and tapioca, gums, or starches to create the necessary texture.
Nowadays, you can buy almost any kind of vegan and vegetarian cheese or make some on your own trying out one of the hundreds recipes available online. Luckily for many vegetarians, the vast majority of mass food producers today embraced the technology of making cheeses where rennet is replaced by enzymes created in a lab. It’s less expensive and offers a more consistent quality. Therefore, many of commercial cheeses are vegetarian by default.
Note that some soft cheeses don’t contain rennet or its derivatives, but they include gelatin, another animal-based product. This information must be mentioned on the product label, so be sure to study it carefully before buying any cheese.
Vegan and Vegetarian Cheese Benefits
The exact list of benefits associated with these foods varies depending on the ingredients. As there are many different recipes, you can create a kind of cheese that will not only suit your taste but also meet your specific dietary needs.
In general, all these ‘veg’ cheeses are great for your health due to the following reasons:
- They are highly nutritious.
They provide you with the vitamins and minerals from their components. As these foods are usually low-fat, you get nutrition without the extra calories.
- Reduced risk of obesity and some chronic diseases
According to the information from the American Heart Association, a vegetarian diet as a whole lowers the chance of developing these conditions because it’s naturally low-fat.
If they are based on animal milks, cheeses for vegetarians can provide you with a healthy dose of good proteins. However, vegan options contain very little of these essential nutrients. If you prefer this options, make sure that you are getting enough protein through your diet.
Vegetarian Cheese: Shopping and Storage Tips
There are a variety of cheeses for vegetarians available in stores. They come in cubes, slices, slabs, and many other forms. If you are looking to buy the ultimate cheese, you should go for a wedge as it retains moisture and flavor best.
Here are a few tips that should help you pick the best wedge of cheese:
- Check the color.
It should be consistent yellowish-brown.
- Check the texture.
It mustn’t be dry, cracked, or uneven.
- Check the flavor.
Roll a small piece in your mouth so that you can experience the flavor in full.
For optimum storage, you should wrap the cheese carefully and keep it in the warmest section of the fridge. Remember that the storage life of this particular food is directly connected to the level of moisture in it. Therefore, the softer the cheese, the shorter its lifespan. This is not the kind of food you should buy in bulk, so plan your vegetarian shopping list wisely.
Amazing Vegan Cheese Recipes
Smoky Cheddar from Cashews
- 1 cup cashews
- ½ cup baby carrots
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- ¼ cup vegan cream cheese
- ¼ cup yeast flakes
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 pinch turmeric
- Combine cashews, milk, and carrots in a saucepan bringing to a boil. Close the lid and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.
- Put the mixture into a food processor adding the rest of the ingredients and process until perfectly smooth.
- Transfer the substance into an oiled loaf pan and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum.
Vegan Tofu Farmer Cheese
- A 14-ounce carton extra-firm tofu
- ¼ cup cashews
- ½ cup almond milk
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Zest from 1 lemon
- ¼ cup white miso paste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ teaspoon dried onion flakes
- Combine almond milk with ½ of lemon juice and set aside.
- Crumble 1/3 of the tofu into a blender. Mix with cashews, milk+juice, soy sauce, and miso paste. Blend until smooth.
- Crumble the rest of the tofu into a bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Add the tofu-miso mixture.
- Put into an airtight container and refrigerate for several hours (perfectly – overnight).