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Replacing real cheese with cheese-alternatives takes practice

A couple of cheese alternatives
A couple of cheese alternatives
Photo by Terence Jacinto

‘I don’t know if I can ever give up cheese’, is one of the most common expressions people begrudgingly make when asked if they can ever give up eating animal based food products. Fortunately, for individuals considering giving up the yellow (sometimes white) ‘gooey stuff’ that’s often a staple ingredient for so many of our favorite dishes (such as pizza and hamburgers - or better yet, veggie burgers!), there are numerous dairy alternatives on the shelves at your local grocery store. A word to the wise though; not all dairy/cheese alternative products are the same, nor do they behave the same way from dish to dish. One unfavorable encounter with a cheese alternative is enough to turn off aspiring vegetarians and vegans striving to attenuate their lust for cheese. Hopefully the series of articles to follow - which will feature the most common brands of dairy/cheese alternatives - will help you determine which cheese alternative is best for the most common dishes synonymous with Americana.

The first product review for this article is the cheese/dairy alternative made by Daiya. ‘Daiya’s Mozzarella Style Shreds’ are well known for the way they melt much like regular cheese does when heated. Daiya’s cheese alternatives are best when used for oven-baked dishes such as pizzas and lasagnas. If you’re trying Daiya Shreds for the first time, the best advice is to not overload your dish with the shreds. It’s the type of product that requires an individual to ‘acquire’ a taste for them. Furthermore, the taste of Daiya’s shreds can easily overpower all the other ingredients in a dish if too much of it is used. It’s best to go easy with Daiya’s products at first until you get used to their taste and texture.

Although Daiya’s shreds are absolutely delicious on oven-baked goods, their taste isn’t as desirable when they are used cold and uncooked (such as when used as a salad topping for example). Daiya’s shreds have a very ‘artificial’, and almost ‘rubbery taste’ when they’re not cooked. Something happens to their composition when they’re heated which makes their taste much more appealing. The other thing that Daiya’s shreds have going for them is they are lactose, soy, and casein free, which is a big plus.

‘Follow You Heart’s Cheddar Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative’ doesn’t have the same ‘melting character’ as Daiya’s shreds. This cheese alternative is best used as a ‘shredded cold topping’ for dishes such as salads and tacos. Emphasis is placed on ‘shredded’ because this is the type of cheese alternative that - similar to Daiya’s shreds - also have an over-powering, and artificial taste if left intact in larger portions (such as large slices for sandwiches for instance). Follow Your Heart’s cheese alternative does contain soy, which is a downside for individuals who are adverse to eating elevated amounts of soy in their diets.

To sum things up, both of these cheese/dairy alternatives are delicious when used correctly, and in smaller portions. Daiya’s products are perfect for oven-baked dishes, where as Follow Your Heart’s cheese alternative are best when shredded and used as a cold topping. We’ll take a look at cheese alternatives derived from almonds and rice in the next article.

For more information about the cheese alternatives mentioned in this article visit:

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