01 August 2011

TDIV Q&A: I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years but I can't give up cheese. Any suggestions?

I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years and I don’t think I can cut out cheese. Any recommendations?

Cheese is often the hardest thing to give up when switching to veganism. It just takes some getting used to, and no one says you can't do it gradually. Veganism is a life change that doesn't come easily. But don't despair, there are lots of alternatives. It used to be that soy cheeses were rubbery and tasteless, but in recent years, there are a couple of brands that have not only changed the way soy cheese tastes but have actually created formulas that melt. Everyone has their own preferences, but you are certainly not limited to soy "cheeze."

The trick is to remember that just like cheese, cheese substitutes are not one style fits all. One of the best substitutes for cheese is to sprinkle pine nuts on your pizza instead. The higher fat content and chewier texture make it a great substitute.

Another option is to use a veggie puree. Here you will need to learn about the uses of oils, margarines, herbs and spices to create a cheesy taste that you like but once you do, you will be hooked. I had a wonderful lasagna that used a sweet potato puree in place of cheese. I've also had a wonderful mixture of hummus and soy margarine that was deliciously cheesy.

The best suggestion I can offer is to choose a good vegan cookbook that includes many recipes that would normally call for cheese. Work through some of these recipes and find out which combinations you like the best. Then experiment.

Raven Whitman | @veganculinary
Raven became vegetarian in her teens and switched to veganism in her mid-twenties, because she couldn't reconcile the idea that the charming, intelligent animals in her life were no different than the animals on the plate. Raven owns the Vegan Culinary Institute and hopes that someday vegans will rise up and take over the world.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/wynnie