If you would’ve told me 5 years ago that I would not only eat vegan cheese but really, honestly and truly love it, I would’ve laughed in your face with no remorse whatsoever for being so rude. Disclaimer: I am not vegan. I have nothing against the philosophy of veganism, it’s just not what I practice and cutting meat out of my diet is not something I see myself doing anytime soon. With that said, I chose to cut dairy out of my diet back in 2015 and haven’t had any since.
Giving up dairy was a decision I came to – at the instruction of my trusted clinical nutritionist – as part of a 15-day elimination and suffice it to say, when the cleanse was done so too was my relationship with animal milk and the products it makes. I felt better than I ever had in SO many ways and there was absolutely no turning back. Where cheese in particular was concerned, I realized that I had been truly hooked on the stuff and was determined to cut it off for good. As good as cheese tastes in almost every form and as “comforting” as I THOUGHT it was, it was doing me nothing but harm. A LOT more on that to come in future posts.
I’m the kind of person that makes “CUTS” final. Once I eliminate something (or someone), I’m not the type to look back BUUUUUUTTTT, that doesn’t mean I don’t seek new satisfactions if what I’ve eliminated provided any. Notice I said “new satisfactions”, not “replacements” or “substitutes“. Replacement and substitution are tricky when it comes to diet, and if you ask me, they’re total mind games that rarely meet success with long term lifestyle change. There are exceptions of course, but I believe for the most part, that getting caught up in trying to replace or substitute something you’ve banished from your life puts you at a major a disadvantage in actually keeping said banished element at bay. Personally, I prefer to move on completely and find a new focus that can bring me new joy, and in this case joy that’s WAY better for my body.
But back to ditching the dairy…while on my journey to discovering new satisfactions after living a life chained to cheese (because yes eating 2-3 three slices of pizza a day for lunch like I used to, then adding loads of shredded cheese to pretty much whatever I ate for dinner SHOULD be considered captivity), I found some vegan tricks and products that I actually LOVE and cannot believe I went so long without. Now, some of these products are marketed as straight up replicas for the real [animal based] thing and yes, some come pretty close in look and texture (and can even win the flavor battle) but my mind and my taste buds don’t put that kind of pressure on them. To me these are delicious, nutrient packed and dairy free which makes them fine by me. I think you’ll agree.
Violife Just like Parmesan
It may not melt down as smoothly as real parmesan but the flavor of Violife just like parmesan does actually comes pretty close to it’s milk made counter-part. In terms of texture, it’s spot on and it’s even sold in a triangular block reminiscent of a chunk of aged Parm. It’s perfect a shredded topping on anything you’d typically put grated parm on and it adds a familiar, nutty element.
Myokos Kitchen Vegan Mozz
The entire Myokos Kitchen line is worth trying but the fresh mozz is definitely the strongest link! This nut-based cheese actually melts into a smooth gooey texture and makes a great topping or stuffing for anything you’d typically use fresh mozzarella for. Don’t make dairy-free pizza without it!
Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Nutritional yeast flakes are savory and add great flavor. Try adding them to a food processor/mini chopper with raw almonds, pulsing together til they form a chunky crumbly mixture and using that to top or crust your favorite foods. The taste and texture are phenomenal.
Pretty much EVERYTHING at Riverdel Cheese
Riverdel Cheese is a vegan cheese lovers paradise. The options are endless and the offerings are Tasty as HELL!!! From stretchy melty cheeses to the “stinky” pungent variety and everything else in between, there is a dairy free, flavorful facsimile for every type of fromage at Riverdel Cheese.
In addition to the mesmerizing display of fresh and aged options available by the ¼ pound, to the extensive selection of packaged plant based cheese products, Riverdel Cheese has something for everyone and all of it is crave-worthy without animal protein!
They’re not stingy with samples either, in fact the staff is super friendly, really knows the products and is eager for you to get familiar with their offerings. Tell them what you’re looking for they’ll have a suggestion (or 3) and if you’re on an unbiased exploration, or even a vegan cheese virgin, they will set you on the right track to something really delicious! If you’re in NYC, don’t walk, RUN to Riverdel Cheese. It’s an experience you will never forget and definitely NOT regret! I promise!