Keri Cronin

How Now, Dr. Cow?

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One of the most common reactions people have when they find out you are a vegan is “oh wow! I couldn’t live without cheese.” Not only have I heard this dozens of times in recent months, but I also used to be someone who would say this kind thing! Cheese was definitely the last thing to go for me, but the more I learned about the dairy industry the less I wanted to have cheese. Missing cheese is no longer an issue for me, I don’t know if this is because I kicked the habit (there has been some research that suggests casein is actually a rather addictive substance) or if I just got used to thinking about images of the darker side of the dairy industry whenever I wanted to toss some grated cheese on my pasta. Either way, I certainly CAN live without cheese and have been doing so for quite a while now, thank you very much!

Having said that, there are occasions when I might want a cheese substitute in a recipe – when I first embarked on the 21 day vegan kickstart last spring I was rather flummoxed by the different kinds of vegan cheese on the market. I quickly discovered that most of them are shite. Tasteless, lumpy masses of ick and, to add insult to injury, a lot of these so-called vegan cheeses still contain casein. Hrumpf. I was delighted to discover Daiya this year – pretty darn tasty, definitely vegan and getting easier to find. I don’t eat a ton of Daiya (see above re: not really craving cheese), but it does work well as a pizza topping, etc.

But what about swanky occasions where one might typically find a nice cheese, good bread/fancy crackers and a glass of wine? Daiya shreds certainly wouldn’t cut it there, but the Dr. Cow “cheeses” certainly would! I picked up an aged cashew & hemp seed “cheese” at Panacea last week. I was mostly driven by curiosity – I’d heard that this was the gourmet of vegan cheeses, but after having so many disappointing vegan cheese experiences I didn’t have high hopes. I was so wrong. This stuff is really nice! I would definitely serve it at the swankiest of parties, if only I could get my hands on some more of it. It is, apparently, really hard to find. We are prepared to take a drive to various locations in upstate New York to find more Dr. Cow, but the shops we contacted are all out of it at the moment.

You know I’m already googling around for raw cashew vegan “cheese” recipes. Anyone tried this?

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