When James May, host of the British TV show Top Gear said “Americans put cheese on everything”, he wasn’t joking. When Denver area fitness trainer Trudy Grace said her weakness for cheese was the only thing keeping her from going totally vegan, she wasn’t joking either. Americans do love cheese. The popularity of artisan cheeses is exploding. The good news for vegans is that the supply of artisan vegan cheese is also exploding to meet demand.
The Examiner will continue to follow the vegan cheese trend and how it affects vegan consumers in North Metro Denver and the rest of the area, as vegans in Colorado tend to travel to find foods that can’t be bought at traditional grocery stores.
Artisan vegan cheeses are still not found at major food grocers in Denver; even Whole Foods does not yet carry them. This has been a boon for small vegan grocers such as Nooch in central Denver, whose customer base includes consumers from cities 50 miles away. Nooch has even begun doing “pop-up” product demonstrations in Colorado Springs due to the positive relationships is has with vegan consumers from that city.
Door 86 Vegan Cheese, a brand-new start-up based in Nashville, TN now ships its home-made artisan cheeses to Colorado, Daphne Medina told the Examiner this week. Medina explained that the company just finished establishing its corporate credentials and is now seeking consumers and retail outlets.
Denver is a market of interest for the young company, which displayed its products at “Neat Market” in downtown Denver this past March with favorable results. The products were also a hit in Colorado Springs vegan food demonstrations presented by local vegan sensation JL Fields. Door 86’s product line include 24 different cheeses that mimic dairy-based favorites from Brie to Pepperjack, and four types of Chevre, a variety that mimics goat cheese and is nut-free. Nuts, such as cashews, are a typical ingredient in vegan cheeses. Medina explains that most of the cheeses are cultures and aged four to five days, so the company recommends ordering in advance.
Artisan cheese recipes have been under development for several years. The popular vegan recipe blog Vedged Out, owned by Somer McCowan of Salt Lake City, UT recently re-profiled a recipe for smoked Gouda cheese that was first posted in fall of 2012, a time when there was no vegan cheese for sale in metro Denver and when even the popular cheese substitute Daiya was a new item in supermarkets.
The vegan Gouda in Vedged Out’s recipe is coconut milk-based and is bound with agar powder, which is used as a vegan substitute for animal-based gelatin. Like most vegan cheese recipes seen by the Examiner, this one is fairly labor intensive, requires a good deal of organization and space and will thus prompt many vegan cheese connoisseurs to buy it already made.