The Brighton Vegan Food Examiner asked vegetarians in the Denver/Brighton area what has kept them from going totally vegan. All said the same thing: It’s tough to give up cheese.
For the record, a vegetarian eats no meat or flesh of any kind, but may eat dairy products, such as cheese, milk or whey protein, and may also eat eggs. By contrast, a vegan eats no food products that come from animals.
Many vegans cite cruelty to cows as a key reason they give up cheese and milk.
Milk cows must be kept pregnant throughout their lives to keep producing, and are milked in factory-style process of today’s milking operations is also an issue.
Personal health, and the health of the planet are also a popular motivators for going vegan. But no matter what motivates vegans reason to go dairy free, few vegans deny that they enjoyed the taste of cheese as long as they ate it.
“I've always been a vegetarian [and eaten cheese], and recently have started to remove all animal products to feel better about how my food choices affect my health and the earth,” says Stephanie Kamm who resides near Boulder.
“I don’t eat meat, and never want to even taste it again,” said Trudy Grace, a personal trainer who teaches Yoga and Pilates in north metro Denver. Grace said she didn’t eat eggs either, but went on to say she was still struggling to give up cheese.
“I’m not sure why it has been so tough [to give up cheese].”
Cheese substitutes are still a relative obscurity; stores have few chocies other than the popular Daiya and basic soy cheese. But recipes for home-made cheese substitutes are now abundant, and are becoming the new culinary frontier for vegetarians and vegans.
On March 2, 53 seekers of non-dairy cheese , including Kamm, headed north from Denver, Brighton and other metro communities to Boulder, where a dinner gathering will feature recipe demos from the newly-released book “Artisan Vegan Cheese” by Chef Miyoko Schinner. They will also be sharing recipes of their own.
Schinner’s book has found a home in the e-catalogues of New England Cheesemaking Supply Company and Cheesemaker.com; Both firms’ core business is dairy cheese and both ship nationwide. The new book’s presence is a sign of vegan cheese’s growing popularity.
Schinner’s recipes are considered advanced, they blend grains and other ingredients and often include an aging period, much like many dairy cheeses. But simpler cheese spreads can be made from a base tofu or ground nuts and can be prepared quickly.
Local vegan group Boulder (and Beyond) Vegan meet-up recommended the following vegan version of Italian Ricotta cheese. The Examiner found this recipe quick, easy and very tasty. While the taste was bit different than the iconic, dairy-based Ricotta, it was a taste easily acquired. The texture was a spot-on-spot match with its dairy-bases predecessor, and proved, quite easily that there is life after cheese.
- 1 1⁄2 lb firm regular tofu, well mashed
- 1⁄4 C fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp dried basil leaves
- 1⁄2–1 1⁄2 tsp sweetener of your choice
- 3⁄4 tsp salt
- 1⁄2 tsp garlic granules
Mash all the ingredients together until mixture has a fine, grainy texture. Use in veggie lasagna or any savory dish that calls for ricotta cheese.