Whether you have been a vegan for a while, have recently one, or you’re just taking part in Veganuary, you’ll have no doubt been told that vegan cheese is awful. Over the years, it has earned itself a bad name with many vegans but I have yet to meet one who has actually tried it themselves. Not that I blame them. After all, it costs over £2 for a small pack of milk-free cheese and that’s not a price that you’re willing to pay for something that you might hate.
So here I am, sat with two different vegan cheese brands in front of me. Willing to sacrifice my own taste buds for you, just to answer the one question we really want to know: Is vegan cheese really that bad?
Tesco Free From Milk
I’ll start with Tesco’s home brand product. I chose the Medium Soya, which is an alternative to medium strength hard cheese. After all, if I’m going to try it I want to be able to really taste it.
Look: It looks harmless enough, just like normal cheese. Its an orange colour which makes it seem like more of a Red Leicester cheese than a Cheddar.
Smell: I’m not going to lie to you, the smell makes me want to gag. I may have chased my housemate around for 10 minutes forcing her to smell this atrocity too! It smells like milk that’s been left out for three days but someone sprayed some coconut spray to hide the stench. Do yourself a favour and never smell this.
Texture: It’s a hard cheese with the same texture as any other real cheese.
Taste: I’m not sure what I was expecting but this basically just tastes how it smells: foul. It tastes quite bitter and it leaves an awful after taste in your mouth after you’ve eaten it. You couldn’t taste the coconut oil that they use in it which just leaves you with the taste of out of date cheese. Honestly, I’m half expecting to find mould on it.
Overall: Do not buy this. I mean, it looks like cheese should but that’s as far as the comparisons go. For £2.25 I was at least hoping that they would make it taste better but I’m struggling to think of anything that I’ve tasted that’s worse than this.
I went with the Violife block cheese alternative, to keep things simple. This cheese alternative is a little bit more expensive than the Tesco brand, priced at £2.30, but I’m hoping that it tastes a bit better too.
Look: Again, it doesn’t look much different than regular cheese. This one is yellow so it looks more like a Cheddar cheese and I’m hoping that the milder taste won’t scar my tastebuds like the Tesco cheese alternative.
Smell: I’m regretting my decision to smell this instantly. It smells like someone’ sweaty gym socks have been left in a hot car all day to fester. The smell isn’t as bad as the last cheese, but if you do decide to try this cheese I would recommend holding your nose.
Texture: This cheese isn’t as hard as the last one. It reminds me of those cheese slices that you can buy. It’s kind of soft and chewy which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Taste: This one isn’t actually that bad, it tastes like cheese slices too! This cheese is quite bland; you don’t get much taste from it. If you like a strong cheese, then you probably won’t like this but if you’re just looking for something simple to put on a sandwich then it should do the job just fine.
Overall: I wouldn’t be opposed to eating this cheese again. It doesn’t live up to regular cheese but I think that is to be expected. It’s something that isn’t too disgusting, and if you are someone like me who loves cheese, you can still get your cheese fix.
So, to answer my question: vegan cheese isn’t too bad so long as you pick a good brand. Tesco’s home brand and Violife are just two examples of vegan cheese and there are more out there if you can find them. The vegan cheeses that are available can be very limited because shops don’t tend to stock a variety of them. It’s all about finding what works for you but I would recommend not buying vegan cheese if you can survive without it.