Plant-based diets are on the rise, with alternatives to meat and dairy becoming commonplace in supermarkets and restaurants alike. The most recent replacement to take-off is vegan cheese, a dairy-free reinvention of every cook’s most popular ingredient.
The question many have asked as this trend took off was, why? Why do we need an alternative to our favourite creamy snack?
Plant-based eating has become increasingly popular all around the world. The British Vegan society cites a 360 percent rise in self-identified vegans over the past decade. While A-list celebrities are setting an example for the rest of community, with big names such as Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Bryan Adams leading the charge in vegan eating. In addition to an increase in veganism, lactose intolerance is one of the most common intolerances in New Zealand and affects approximately 405,000 kiwis to a severe degree. Considering these circumstances, it is no wonder we have developed a dairy-free alternative to our beloved cheese.
Traditionally made from the milk of cows, goats and other farm animals, eliminating dairy from cheese may seem a tricky task. Vegan cheeses utilise an extensive range of key ingredients. Variants include cheese made from soy, nuts and coconuts, each providing a unique flavour and texture. The alternatives have been tested and tampered with to find the right taste, consistency and melting ability for the products. Vegan cheese will never perfectly replicate the creamy original but provides an equally tasty experience for those looking for a different encounter or wanting to enjoy cheese without breaking their dietary requirements.
Mainstream outlets have been quick to jump on the vegan bandwagon. Domino’s Pizza has added vegan cheese as an optional topping for their pizzas, and McDonald’s has launched their first vegan burger in Finland and Sweden entitled the McVegan. These additions prove that the plant-based alternative is more than just a fad, and is here to stay.
It is unlikely that vegan cheese will ever surpass the original, but the trend is certainly making waves in the industry and proving a hit among health-conscious consumers.