If in the past vegan cheese was synonymous of tofu or tasteless starch paste, today there are options for all. And don’t try to hide it in a shelf, the new trend are the vegan cheese shops.
If there are butchers without animal meat (and we talk about them here), why not vegan cheese without milk? The tofu, famous bean curd is just an option. The new cheeses are made from combinations of nuts, vegetables, grains, yeasts and enzymes. They are healthy, dairy free, tasty and even increasingly similar to the dairy ones. It is important to say that they are not imitations of their dairy counterparts, but a range of completely new flavours. If they before attracted only vegetarians or lactose intolerants, they now conquered a much larger audience.
Each bacterial culture used on cheese fermentation produces a profile of flavouring compounds which adds flavor to the cheese. Different combinations produce different types of product. The most used is the bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus. Another option is the use of probiotic drink ‘rejuvelac‘, that is the result of the fermentation of whole grains (wheat, oats, rye, among others) in water.
The startup Heidi Ho, from USA, produces creamy cheeses based on chia, chestnuts and vegetables that serve up even to make foundues. The startup received investment in the tv show Shark Tank to expand operations. While Miyoko’s Kitchen has developed their own fermented versions. Dr. Cow let their pieces to mature for at least 2 months. Most of the production comes from small businesses, hence the variety of options on the market. The largest company in the segment is the Californian Kite Hill, which has a pilot plant with approximately of 50 employees and also produces cheeses with milk.
Americans lead in number of vegan cheese shops, however there are good products all around in the world. The Canadian Daiya makes Gouda and Cheddar type with potato, tapioca and coconut oil. They can all be melted, great on pizza, for example. And the Portuguese startup Yogan makes vegan cheeses with almonds.
And where they sell these cheeses? In vegan cheese shops! Yes there are shops specialized in these products. You may also find in some supermarkets or online. Riverdel, in New York is one of the firsts and they will soon offer a selection of wines to harmonize with the cheeses.
While the “vegetable milks” took more than a decade to get in popular taste, the same will not happen with the new generation cheeses. Consumers are open to new products. But it’s not “all or nothing”, there are so many varieties in the world and vegans came to complement. Full of healthy and tasty cheeses, the vegan cheese shops arrived to stay. Surrender to them!
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