Last year when I took part in Veganuary, I just didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t bother to seek out things like actually tasty tofu recipes and, more importantly, I neglected entirely the world of vegan cheese.
Having looked much more closely this year at what’s out there in terms of plant based “cheeses”, I think my end resolution will probably be to make my own using nuts – that said, I haven’t tried that yet, so don’t hold me to it. The reason for this is: there’s a bunch of crap in vegan cheese.
For me the whole point of temporarily adapting plant based diet is to ditch unnecessarily processed foods and go for whole ingredients that are unlikely to piss off my brain or digestive system. Vegan cheese ingredients are all small print and lengthy and kind of gross-looking. I haven’t done any real research into any of them because the Internet is full of annoying scaremongers, so correct me if all the processes and ingredients behind your average pretend cheese is sound, but you get the idea. There are certainly more things going on in there than your average Pinterest cashew cheese recipe, yaknow?
You’re not here to listen to me be an annoying hippie though, you want to know what the stuff tastes like.
The cheese I tried out for size was VioLife’s Pizza Cheese, I picked it up at hiSbe which is just down the road from me (fellow Brightonians, they are your go-to for vegan thingies, them and Infinity Foods) and it was just over £2.
I was too lazy on the day in question to make a pizza base and real pizza sauce. You can judge me if you want. Instead, I thought a crumpet smeared with tomato puree would do the job. It did.
I grated the cheese on, whacked it under the grill for a few minutes and what you see above is what I got. It melted more than meets the eye, beneath the surface of what looks like unmelted strands of cheese is actual gooeyness, I was actually pretty impressed on that count.
I feel like if I’d done this properly, and baked the cheese in the oven on an actual pizza, it would have looked more appealing also. I’ll have to do that and report back, really, won’t I.
It wasn’t disgusting.
The thing I could most closely compare it to is plasticky American cheese, it did have a faint plasticky taste for sure. It didn’t taste creamy and delicious like mozzarella. Did it taste of anything? I should have made notes. I’m sorry for how bad I am at this.
I didn’t retch, and I haven’t sworn it off for life, and I’m looking forward to trying it on actual pizza. That’s all I can give you.
It kind of stuck to my teeth a little bit. I guess because it lacks the delicious fatty goodness of actual cheese, it’s gonna behave way differently once it reaches your mouth, so it takes some getting used to. Again though, not offensive enough to make me swear it off for life.
Overall verdict? Vegan cheese ain’t so bad. Now I just have to pluck up the courage to try the VioLife “cheddar”, it’s been sitting in the fridge for a few days now, I can’t ignore it forever..