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.