V for veg: Vegans don’t have to cut cheese discusses what is probably the most common response I hear from people about switching to a vegan diet: “Not the cheese. I couldn’t live without cheese.” I had a similar internal debate with myself for a while before I switched from being an ovo-lacto vegetarian to a full vegan. I gave up eggs and milk easily: I’ve always been severely lactose intolerant, so I didn’t miss milk, and as for eggs, the image of chickens crammed in those tiny cages was enough to put me off. I had bought free-range eggs, thinking that they were cruelty free, until I found out that there are no standards for what constitutes “free range,” and that many chickens under these conditions are allowed to run around for only a few minutes a day, and still within small pens. Cheese was much harder to give up, as I loved it so much, even if it didn’t love me back due to my lactose intolerance. The more I read about the conditions under which most dairy cattle live, however, I simply could not continue to indulge my love of cheese at the expense of the misery of these poor cows.
The growing variety of cheese substitutes makes it increasingly easy for people to explore a dairy-free lifestyle. The blog post above makes references to DIY cheese; I’ve used the Jo Stepaniak DIY recipes to good effect. There are so many good products on the market. My favourites are:
- wedge-style cheese
- Better than Cream Cheese
- vegan grated topping
- vegan shreds
Daiya is hands down my favourite product. I make my own grated topping, based on the Parma brand recipe (which I can’t get in Halifax), which is a combination of walnuts and nutritional yeast put through a blender. Rather than focus on whether they taste like real cheese, I prefer to appreciate the delicious flavour of these items in their own right.