Vegan cheese is a crime no one should commit. Unfortunately we found that out the hard way when we conducted our latest taste test. We're all in favor of veganism here at HuffPost Taste, so as cheese lovers, we were intrigued by the prospect of vegan cheese.
We rounded up seven varieties from a few different stores -- we went everywhere from Whole Foods to Food Emporium to a stand-alone raw food store -- and set our editors to the test. The results were... pretty disappointing. Vegan cheese, we still have hope for you. But after this taste test, we're afraid we won't touch you with a 10-foot pole for a long, long time.
The cardinal rule with any dietary or allergy restriction, we think, is not viewing foods as substitutes and comparing them to the "real" or "original" thing. A veggie burger is nothing like a beef burger, but they're both awesome in their own right. It's when you start comparing the two -- or comparing fake "chicken" fingers to real chicken fingers, or cauliflower to steak -- that you run into trouble. Vegetarian and vegan food doesn't have to stack up against meat; it can exist as independent and delicious food on its own, and we enjoy it very much that way!
This is the root problem with vegan cheese -- it's trying to be something made with dairy, and unfortunately that thing is very hard to imitate. Maybe instead of trying to find a vegan substitute for cheese, it would be better to look for vegan foods that also taste great where cheese would have, too. For example, you could try an avocado on a burger instead of cheese or vegan cheese.
If you're adamant about finding a vegan cheese substitute, go forth and let us know in the comments if you find a good one. We're definitely still hopeful for a vegan cheese that tastes half-decent, but we may not be brave enough to seek out new options out for a while. This vegan cheese taste test was a little scarring. One of our HuffPost editors couldn't even make it through the whole taste test, he felt so nauseous after eating a few.
Find out which vegan cheeses were palatable, and which ones we really couldn't stomach, in the taste test results:
As always, this taste test was in no way influenced or sponsored by any of the brands included.
WORST: Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack Cheese Alternative
"It's kind of like the worst string cheese stick you've ever had in your life, because it's sat in the trunk of a car in August." "Horrible. The texture is gelatinous, gummy and grainy all at the same time." "This tastes like a sponge." "Looks like jicama, feels like rubber, I could never un-eat this!" "Ick x 3." "Tasteless, meh, rubber."
WORST: Dr. Cow Cashew Cheese With Saffron, Reishi Mushroom and Shilajit
"I love vinegar, and this tastes strongly of vinegar, but somehow I HATE this. It's astringent and unlike any cheese on the planet. The aftertaste is of pencil erasers and grandma's corked homemade wine." "Neapolitan Play Doh has no place in my cheese counter!" "Tangy, mealy, yuck!" "This is almost impossible to swallow."
Tofutti Soy American Flavored Slices
"I know American cheese is hardly cheese at all, so I expected this to be similar. But no, this tastes exactly like tofu." "Falls apart in my mouth and leaves a terrible, artificial aftertaste." "My mouth is exceptionally confused.""Velveeta -- but worse."
Go Veggie Pepper Jack Flavor Rice Vegan Slices
"So bad I can't eat it." "Would be a crime to sell in a store." "This is heinous. It tastes like plasticky wood." "Bland, kind of spicy, not too bad though. This could be good in a sandwich if I didn't have to eat it by itself." "This can't be made of real food. It doesn't 'taste,' it just 'is.'"
Daiya Cheddar Style Block
"A Velveeta knockoff for sure, but there's an unpleasant graininess and an overwhelmingly vegan taste." "This tastes like cheese used in a Chex Mix cheesy blend...or something." "Like Easy Cheese in a block." "This is actually the worst thing."
Dr. Cow Aged Cheese
"The texture is nice and creamy, but the high amount of vinegar makes my brain interpret it as 'rancid.'" "This is good(ish)." "Not terrible, a good tang and consistency, but it is NOT cheese." "Tangy, best one by far." "So vinegary, I can't taste anything else."
BEST: Dr. Cow Cream Cashew Nuts Alternative Cheese
"Looks like the filling of a deviled egg. Creamy texture, overwhelmingly nutty flavor, with a big vinegary bite." "Would be a yummy spread on a sandwich." "This tastes like hummus! Actually kind of tasty!" "The texture is somewhat like hummus, which is cool. But it's very vinegary." "Tangy, a bit better because of the tang disguise."
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