Vegan cheese has come a long way in the two decades since I started eating it, and there are more options than ever for those of us that don’t (or can’t) eat dairy.
Below I’ve detailed the most common brands of vegan cheeses, what the best uses are for each cheese, what I (and other bloggers) think about them, and where you can find them.
A note of guidance: most of these vegan cheeses are not going to fool omnivores into thinking it’s “real” cheese. But who cares? These plant-based cheese options will fulfill your craving for creamy, salty, and tangy in whatever you might be cooking.
1. Miyoko’s Kitchen
Miyoko’s is at the top of my list because I think it’s the most delicious thing on the planet, vegan cheese or otherwise. Miyoko’s is a cashew-based soft cheese round that’s blended with chickpea miso and cultured for about three weeks in their Northern California creamery. Each of the flavors are quite unique. My personal favorite is the Classic Double Cream Chive and the Sun-Dried Tomato. Best of all, she’s always releasing new and tasty special editions.
Miyoko’s cheese comes mostly in small rounds (about 4 inches around). These rounds are great on cheese platters or served as a dip for veggies or crackers. My new favorite way to enjoy Miyoko’s is atop warm noodles; the creamy cheese melts onto the noodles and veggies for the ultimate creamy, flavorful pasta. Miyoko’s also makes a cultured vegan butter which I’ve heard is amazing.
Buy Miyoko’s online or at your local natural foods store.
Daiya is an excellent vegan cheese: it is offered as shreds, as blocks, and slices. The secret about Daiya is that it must be warmed. I do not recommend eating Daiya cold; it has a very distinct smell/flavor that just doesn’t work for me (or most people I’ve met), but it’s truly delightful when warmed.
I like the cheddar and mozzarella the best, but they also offer a pepperjack version. Get the blocks and chop for burritos, use the shreds on pizza or on noodles, and use the slices in your grilled cheese sandwiches. Their fully dairy-free product line includes yogurt, dressings, soft “cream cheese,” boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizzas, and frozen cheesecakes.
Treeline is another soft cheese brand that is wonderfully delicious. Treeline is also cashew-based, and offers an array of flavors. Like Miyoko’s, Treeline can be served as a dip for veggies or crackers, or scooped out onto noodles for a creamy pasta dish. The texture of this one is pleasant and creamy, but for the cost I prefer Miyoko’s, both for overall flavor and variety of options.
Chao by Field Roast
Chao, made by Field Roast, is another favorite of mine. Like their incredible vegan sausages, the Chao cheese is an excellent omnivore-friendly offering that just might fool omnivores. Currently Chao is just offered in slices, and it comes in three flavors: Creamy Original (my recommendation), Tomato Cayenne (super spicy), and Coconut Herb (which I’ve not tried).
This cheese is super creamy and melty, perfect for sandwiches, grilled cheese, layered atop burritos, or even melted onto noodles. Chao is good cold or warm, so it has a distinct advantage over Daiya slices. They also make a Mac & Chao now, which I am so anxious to try!
Follow your Heart Vegan Cheeses
Follow your Heart, makers of Veganaise and other delicious vegan goodies, also makes a few varieties of vegan cheese under two different brands. One is the Vegan Gourmet blend, and another is the Follow your Heart vegan cheeses; the main difference seems to be that the Vegan Gourmet brand uses soy while the other does not. Alisa over at Go Dairy Free says the Follow your Heart cheeses are “flavorful, melty, and a delicious upgrade to so many meals, snacks and recipes.” Sounds like a win!
Heidi Ho Organics
Heidi Ho Organics is a Portland-based vegan cheesemaker with an array of soft cheese offerings made from mostly whole-food ingredients like veggies and chia seeds. They make a line of creamy cheeses in tubs that can be used as a spread or melted over pasta, sandwiches and more. Eva Kitchen says the Heidi Ho cheeses are “simply delicious.”
Buy Heidi Ho on Vegan Essentials or at your local natural foods store.
Parmela Creamery Nut Cheese
This is a new brand on the market. They make shredded vegan cheese and it is super delicious. The flavor is similar to Daiya, but the texture is lighter (when cold and when melted), and is slightly less gooey. I used the shreds melted onto a tortilla for a quick burrito for dinner tonight, and the sharp cheddar paired perfectly with my veggie mix. Their cheeses are made from almonds or cashews, and come in a variety of flavors. They also make soft cheeses, Alfredo sauces, and Nacho cheese sauces! You can order online – or better yet– put in a request at your local store.
Kite Hill is winning in the plant-based world: their soft, cream cheese style spread has been on the market for years. Its mild flavor is delicious on bagels, in wraps, sandwiches, and as a veggie dip. They recently started selling a vegan ricotta, and a line of homemade vegan ricotta-stuffed ravioli. Their yogurt is my favorite plant-based yogurt (the unsweetened plain is just incredible), and they’ve recently launched a Greek-style yogurt, too. Find their products at Whole Foods and other natural food stores.
Tofutti has been around for decades, and the fact that they are still innovating says something good about the company. However, this cheese seems to receive a meh from around the web. It got a 3/5 from FckDairy in their grilled cheese challenge, and Avocadbro summarizes Tofutti by saying: “I’d recommend it to other vegans, but I’m not sure I’d have a non-vegan try it.” I recently tried their sour cream, though, and it was on point.
GoVeggie has been around for many years, and for awhile, was one of the only vegan cheeses on the market. But many of their options are not actually vegan because they use casein (a milk protein) in their ingredients. Why would a mostly vegan company use that protein? I’ve never understood their reasoning. The Healthy Sooner has a great review of the products and was impressed with their meltability and flavor.
Buy GoVeggie at local natural food stores
The Butcher’s Son
This fully vegan cafe and deli in Berkeley is a vegan delicatessen, serving up some of the most omnivore friendly foods on the planet. I have yet to dine at this fine establishment, but my best friend says all their offerings are excellent. You can order from their menu, or get charcuterie and cheese from their deli case to take home.
Vtopian Cheese Shop
If you’re in Portland, Vtopian should be high on your list. This store has dozens of varieties of homemade vegan cheeses made from cashews, macadamia nuts, and more. VeganNomNoms hosted a group tasting for the Vtopian cheeses and wrote an excellent review of all the different varieties, uses, and ingredients.
If you are lucky enough to live in West Hollywood, Vromage is your answer to vegan cheese cravings. There is little information available about them on their website, but the reviews seem excellent (including a review from one of my favorite vegan celebs, Alicia Silverstone).
Dr. Cow is a gourmet line of cashew-based vegan soft cheeses that claims to be the first aged vegan cheese on the market. These soft cheeses are made for cheese plates and spreading. Quarry Girl says she was “absolutely stunned” with the excellent flavor. Their product line is made in Brooklyn, and can be found in select locations around the country.
A long-standing European brand, VioLife has recently landed on the shores of the US, and so many vegan cheese lovers are stoked. Avocadbro postulates these cheeses are the basis for Chao, so I am excited to try them. I’ve not found them in local stores yet, but I’m hoping that their extensive product line will be more widely available in the coming months. BattyLife has a great review (giving the cheeses 10/10, 9/10, and 8/10), and has a detailed description of the ingredients, flavors, and textures of each.
Why Choose Vegan Cheese?
Let’s dive into why you might want to consider vegan cheese over dairy cheese options. First and foremost, most people (65% according to some estimates) are actually lactose-intolerant, which means that they can’t properly digest proteins found in milk (and thus, cheese) due to a lack of necessary enzymes in their digestive tract.
The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) explains that lactose intolerance can lead to all sorts of digestive distress. If you feel bloated, have diarrhea, or experience other digestive issues after certain meals, perhaps dairy is to blame? If you want to dig really deep into this subject about why we developed the gene to digest lactase in the first place, and some people are lactose intolerant and others are not, read this NPR article.
Other reasons you might choose vegan cheese over dairy cheese is for your health. Many studies show that dairy products are aren’t necessary in our diet. Forget that calcium argument– leafy greens are actually the best source of calcium. Meanwhile, overconsumption of dairy may actually be causing us harm. Dairy puts us at risk for cancer, is linked to inflammation, sinus and ear infection issues, among a bunch of other health issues.
But perhaps most importantly, dairy production is most often a heart-breaking and cruel practice that is bad for the animals and bad for the planet. There has been extensive work done on this subject, and if you’re curious about where your dairy comes from, I’d encourage you to watch some videos of baby cows being taken from their mothers, of cows suffering with mastitis (infection of the milk ducts), and read statistics about all the hormones, antibiotics, and pus found in dairy.