Friday, July 16, 2010

Vegan Milk and Cheese: The Overview

The other day I saw something at Ralph's that I found pretty exciting:

That's Daiya vegan cheese, nestled in with all the dairy-based cheeses. Cool!

Daiya is all the rage in those fortunate parts of the country like mine where it is widely available. I've only tried a bite of someone else's pizza with Daiya, but it was definitely good. The general consensus is that it's melty, delicious, and stretchy. If you want to see more, check out quarrygirl because she posts about daiya-laden foods on an almost daily basis.

This discovery made me think that maybe I should write a little bit about vegan milk and cheese substitutes. You may see them spelled "mylk" and "cheeze," and while I get the point of such labels, I think they're pretty silly and something akin to writing "womyn."

There are tons of brands of vegan cheese, from the classic Follow Your Heart to Teese, Cheezly, VeganRella, and now Daiya. Daiya is especially known for mimicking the characteristic meltiness of dairy cheese, which was typically difficult for vegan cheeses to produce, hence why so many packages declare, "Melts!" You can use vegan cheese to make mac 'n cheese, lasagna, quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, whatever. Personally, I almost never eat vegan cheese. I actually prefer my pizza without cheese on it now. But if anybody makes vegan mac 'n cheese, I always have to try it. It's an obsession and I love vegan mac just as much as I ever loved dairy mac.

As for vegan milk, rejoice! For your bounty is plentiful. Soy milk is the classic non-dairy milk, but there's also almond, rice, hemp, oat, cashew, and more. I feel like it's hard to go wrong with almond milk, and that's what I usually use. I've shown on this blog before how to make almond milk, but you can also buy it. I usually buy Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla. Here are the nutrition facts for one cup:

Almond Breeze Almond Milk, Unsweetened Vanilla
Serving Size: 8 oz

Report incorrect nutrition info
Amount Per Serving
Calories 40.0
Total Fat 3.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 180.0 mg
Potassium 190.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Sugars 0.0 g
Protein 1.0 g
Vitamin A 10.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 0.0 %
Vitamin C 0.0 %
Vitamin D 25.0 %
Vitamin E 50.0 %
Calcium 20.0 %
Copper 0.0 %
Folate 0.0 %
Iron 2.0 %
Magnesium 4.0 %
Manganese 0.0 %
Niacin 0.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %
Phosphorus 4.0 %
Riboflavin 0.0 %
Selenium 0.0 %
Thiamin 0.0 %
Zinc 0.0 %

Lately I've bought this brand instead, because it's been on sale:

It's just dandy in coffee and smoothies, which are the two main ways I utilize almond milk because I don't really eat cereal. Though I have to warn you, I tried drinking a glass plain the other day and it didn't taste very good for that, Almond Breeze is much better.

If you're interested in vegan milk and cheese, try out several kinds and see what you like. There are also many ways to make your own vegan and even Raw substitutes. Don't give up if you don't like the first one you try - my mom hates rice milk but loves almond milk. Giving up cheese is usually one of the most difficult changes for would-be vegans but I promise you, it can be done and in the end, it isn't that difficult. And after you're used to it, it isn't difficult at all. Dairy isn't a food to me anymore and I don't miss it one bit. But why would I even need to when there are all these great alternatives available?

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