Thursday, 19 September 2013

Vegan Vox Reviews...Vegan Cheeses


One of the first questions people ask me when they find out that I am vegan is what I substitute for cheese, and as those of you who have read 'My Vegan Journey' know, I have been on a cheese mission since becoming vegan. So this week I wanted to review the cheeses I have tried so far and give you my opinions on them. The thing with vegan cheese is that you need to choose the right cheese for each type of dish that you want, there is not a 'one cheese fits all' in the vegan world. So I have categorised the cheeses by type and will give you a review of taste, smell, texture, ingredients, availability and usability. I have deliberately not included any homemade cheeses in this list, as I would like to cover them in a future post. All professional product photos are from the company websites and you can click on them to visit the websites. All food photos are mine.







Category 1: Mozzarella Style/Pizza Cheeses


MozzaRisella - I tried this on a pizza at the V Delicious Show in London, and it was amazing, light mozzarella taste, it's made with rice milk, it has no soya which is great for those who are allergic or just trying to cut down. It is a healthy option and as well as being organic and vegan it contains no gluten, preservatives, colourings or GMO. It melts perfectly and tastes creamy, it smells fresh, no strong smell. Currently there are no stockists in the Midlands :-( but it is available at stores in London, Sussex, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Surrey. It is also available at some London restaurants and to order online. Perfect pizza cheese. Just wish I could buy it locally. 4/5



Cheezly Mozzarella Style - This is my go-to cheese of choice, mainly because it is sold at Holland & Barrett, of which there is a branch walking distance from my house, but also because it melts well and is versatile. I have had this cheese on pizza, lasagne, grated over pasta, on top of a shepherd's pie, a pasta bake and in a sandwich. It is better as a melting cheese than unmelted. There is little taste but the texture is good and once it is melted into your pizza, it takes on the flavours of the sauce and veggies. It is also gluten-free and free from artificial colours and preservatives. It does contain soya, yeast and vegetable fats but is palm oil free. It is available at most health food shops, and in some branches of Morrisons, so it rates highly for versatility and availability but lacking in flavour. 4/5


Tofutti Creamy-Smooth Mozarella-style grated bag - This was awful! It had no taste, texture of cardboard, and it did not melt! It was very chalky and dry. Although it does last longer once opened than the previous two cheeses, that does not make up for all of its faults. It is gluten-free but full of not so good ingredients like preservatives, soy and palm oil. This is available at Holland & Barrett and works out cheaper than the Cheezly, as well as online vegan shops but was a huge disappointment. 1/5


Tofutti Mozarella burger slices - Despite my loathing for the above Tofutti product, these slices are great! I use these on vegan burgers, on toast, sandwiches and salads. It isn't a great melt, but it goes soft sort of like burger cheese slices for omnivores. They have a long shelf life and are individually wrapped so they are great to keep in the fridge and perfect for BBQs. These contain soybean oil, and soya but no palm oil. They have a nice mellow cheese slice taste too.They are available from Holland & Barrett as well as online vegan shops. 4/5



Veganic Pizza Cheese - Now, I was so excited to see this for sale at V Revolution on my recent trip to Manchester, which you can read about here. I had heard such good things about this cheese and yet I was disappointed. I'm not sure if its the way I cooked the cheese, on top of a pizza in the oven at 200C and on top of a lasagne in the oven at 180C but it didn't really melt properly. It kind of congealed together a little but still in distinct grated cheese shreds and I felt that the flavour was average and there was no strong smell, maybe I should have tried grilling this cheese, but if it says its a pizza cheese, most people would cook in an oven. It is GMO free, gluten free, contains no soy or palm oil and has a long shelf life, as well as being good value for the quantity you get in the bag. It is currently not available at many retailers, with Swindon, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Cornwall, Leicester, Colchester and Newcastle having a stockist each. It is available online and served at some restaurants and take-aways including two in the West Midlands, so maybe I will give it another try on a take-away vegan pizza! 3/5

Category Winners - Mozzarisella and Cheezly Mozzarella-Style


Category 2: Cream Cheese Alternatives

Tofutti Creamy Smooth Cream Cheese - Garlic & Herbs - This is without a doubt the best vegan cream cheese I have tasted, it reminds me of Boursin (from my cow's cheese eating days). It smells garlicky and cheesy, but not too overpowering, it is smooth and creamy and spreads nice and thick on sandwiches, crackers and bagels. Now the bad news, it does contain partially hydrogenated soybean oil and a few nasty preservatives including sugar, however it is gluten-free and has a great shelf-life. An open tub can last a fortnight after opening in my fridge. It is available online and from Holland & Barrett as well as most health food stores. 4.5/5

Tofutti Creamy Smooth Cream Cheese - Herbs & Chives - This is very similar to the product above but in a different flavour. The flavour is milder than the garlic one, still very nice but not as flavoursome as the one above. For ingredients and availability see the above product. 3/5


Tesco Free From Dairy Spread - This was the first vegan cream cheese I tried after becoming vegan, and no word of a lie, I almost cried. It was awful! It was stodgy and claggy, had an artificial sweet overpowering aroma and taste and made me feel sick. Mr Vox walked in the kitchen and said "what is that awful smell?" when I said it was my cream cheese, he couldn't believe it. I am so glad I persevered and tried more cheeses as this was close to sending me back to eating dairy! It is gluten free and made with a combination of coconut and soya, it contains no palm oil. It is available from large Tesco stores and at Tesco.com. You have been warned! 0/5



Sheese Creamy Original - This is the company that made the Tesco Cream Cheese above. I did not know this until last week. This was the second cream cheese I tried after the Tesco one, and surprise surprise, it tastes exactly the same! I though just all vegan cheese was rubbish at this point. I have since been proven wrong, I am glad to report. You can buy this at Holland & Barrett and online. Therefore my review is the same as above. 0/5

Category Winner - Tofutti Creamy Smooth Cream Cheese - Garlic & Herbs



Category 3: Hard Cheeses for Sandwiches



Sheese Medium Cheddar - This was a yellow block of something which resembled Plasticine. It tasted about as good too! Vile smell and flavour, overpowering, too sweet. Rubbery texture, didn't melt on cheese on toast and tasted horrible straight from the packet. Me and Sheese don't get on, as you can tell. It contains soya and various thickeners and preservatives. It does not in any way taste like cheddar cheese. They also make the Tesco Free From Medium Cheese. Avoid! 0/5


Vegusto No-Moo Piquante - This cheese made me smile and jump for joy at the V Delicious Show! Finally, someone who understood what the taste and texture of cheese is supposed to be like, and then made it vegan! Yay! I loved this cheese. It was perfect for sandwiches and burgers and on crackers. Spicy and tangy, great cheese texture. It doesn't melt, but then that's not the point of this cheese. The main problem with Vegusto is getting hold of it. They are available from their website and from independent wholefood stores. They do sell it in Birmingham but its a 25 mile round trip from home for me to get some. Also it is almost twice the price of Cheezly. This saddens me as I would like to buy it every week, but £5 for a small block of cheese is expensive. It is soy free and gluten free and contains no palm oil, but does contain nut butter. I tried a few of their cheeses at the show and they were all lovely, but this was my favourite. 4/5

Category Winner: Vegusto

Category 4: Specialty Cheeses



Cheezly Pepperjack - This is not sold in as many places as the Mozzarella Style Cheezly, I got some from an independent wholefoods store, but it is around 15 miles from me, so I don't get to have it often. You can buy it online as well. This cheese has a spicy peppery tangy taste and a crumbly texture, it goes great in slices on a vegan burger, with BBQ food, on Mexican dishes like tacos and fajitas and on crackers. This is gluten-free, contains no hydrogenated fats and no artificial colours or preservatives, it contains soya but no palm oil. 4/5


Cherub Dairy Free Dried Parmesan-Style - I bought this from the Birmingham Vegan Fair and found out it is from a New Zealand company, I wish I had bought more as it was lovely sprinkled on top of pasta, pizzas and lasagnes as well as an ingredient for pesto. I can't find it for sale anywhere except on Amazon and with shipping costs its really expensive so alas, I have not bought any more. But if I find it at a show again, I will bulk buy. 4/5

Category winners - Cheezly and Cherub




I realise there are many more vegan cheeses available but hey, I've tried a fair few in the last 9 months! Let me know your favourite vegan cheeses in the comments below. Do you agree with my reviews or are you a Sheese lover? (why?) ;-) And yes , American readers, I know Daiya is the King of Vegan Cheeses but as at the time of writing they do not stock anywhere in the UK yet :-(

Big (Cheesy) Vegan Love,

VVx

8 comments:

  1. I must admit I was put off vegan cheeses several years ago by their nasty taste and texture (only palatable if you smother your sandwich in pickle!) and highly processed ingredients. I remember Sainsbury's did an own brand vegan plain cream cheese which was excellent though, but sadly took it off the market about 10 years ago due to lack of consumer interest. I used to sometimes make a cheese sauce with Sheese years ago- the blue cheese variety was the only one with any flavour at all, as I remember! I've read a lot about Daiya, Tatamoo, Vegusto et al since and they sound worth trying, but I've actually learned to make cultured raw nut cheeses and almond parmesan meanwhile, and I prefer those as I know exactly what I've put in them! Thanks for a very informative, interesting and well-illustrated post :)

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    1. Thanks :-) Glad you enjoyed it! VVx

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  2. Really good review VV honest and informative :)

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  3. Good review, honest and informative VV X

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  4. Loved reading this; I was looking for a review of the Toffutti mozerella slices! I've tried the other cheddar slices and wasn't a fan, so hope these are better!
    Tesco cheddar style cheese is brilliant for cooking with, and melts exceptionally well. I agree with you though that the Tesco cream cheese is just gross!
    I've heard that Violife is good cheese, will try that next.
    It's the Yorkshire vegan festival this weekend in Leeds, so will stock up on my mild-aromatic vegusto cheese :)

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    1. Hi there I live near leeds but the only place I have found to buy vegan foods is the health food store out of this world and holland and barretts. Do you know any other places around west yorkshire

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  5. Perhaps they have improved the recipe of Sheese Medium Cheddar but as I type a way I am currently digesting a yummy toastie. I use my microwave to melt cheese rather than the grill so perhaps it's about how you melt it. Not it doesn't taste that great un-melted and it's too easy the drown the flavour with other things.

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