What’s all the noise about going vegan. Many celebrities are coming forward to embrace this way of life. So, is it all about healthy eating or only plant food? Veganism and vegetarianism are quite different from each other, Veganism more relates to ethical considerations, whereas the latter mostly stems from religious or environmental regard. It is a way of life wherein people abstain from eating or using anything which comes from the exploitation of animals. Not only do they boycott meat or seafood but also diary products, soaps, household items which are obtained by using animals.
Replacing dairy products with plant-based food
The vegan diet should not always focus on getting the nutritional requirement but also satisfy our taste buds. A vegan diet might be missing some of the tasty treats from the animal-based products. Wait, it is not all bad news for the vegans! We have the experts churning out new recipes to make sure the vegan diet is well-balanced and satisfies the cravings.
Soy milk, plant-based cheese, soy tofu are some of the processed food alternatives that more or less taste like the original dairy products and can woo the very ardent dairy product lovers. Curious to know what these are made of and how it is made? Read through to understand what vegan cheese is before we show you some fantastic and simple recipes.
What is Vegan Cheese?
As the name suggests, it is not by-product obtained from milk. The vegan cheese is entirely a plant-based food that is made by combing protein mass from various plant sources using synthetic bacteria and natural enzymes.
It can be made from a variety of sources such as soy protein, vegetable oil: palm, coconut or olive oils, nutritional yeast, thickening agents, nuts: cashew, almonds, tapioca flour, some cultured bacteria, and pea protein.
How healthy is vegan Cheese?
Vegan Cheese is the perfect alternative to the cheese from dairy products. The taste and the nutritional levels are similar to that of original cheese. The goodness of the cheese depends on the methods used to make it. The cheese aging and bacteria culturing techniques are what decides the quality of the cheese. The factory processed varieties of readymade vegan cheese that we get in markets go through a lot of processing. This means that they carry the same risks as many of the other processed food. People are returning to the traditional methods of aging and culturing to retain the benefits of this product.
Taste — Vegan Vs. Real Cheese
In real cheese, the consolidated protein from the natural dairy products give the unique texture and flavor to the cheese. The protein molecules physically bond with each other through the many stages of aging. Whereas the protein from plant food may not go through such changes or modification. This is the main reason that will differentiate the taste between the real and vegan varieties. Employing new methods of aging and bacteria culture is changing the scenario. Today many types of vegan cheese taste better than the real cheese.
Getting to the Cheese-Making Process
The jargons such culturing, aging might deter many from trying out this art. The process is not as complicated as we might think it is. We can try making some at home with few ingredients. Home-made cheese is a healthier option, as you are aware of the ingredients in it.
We present to you a simple recipe that can be tried at home. For more great recipes check out one of the many vegan cookbooks available over on Amazon.
These few ingredients are all we need to make some very delicious vegan cheese.
- 1 Can Coconut milk (Full Fat) — This is to give the creamy textures to the cheese.
- 1tbsp + 1tsp Nutritional Yeast — for the cheesy flavor.
- ½ Cup Water — To get the moisture level right.
- 1 tsp Salt — for flavoring
- ½ Lemon Juice — to give it a light sour taste
- 2 tbsp Agar-Agar — Its white powder made from seaweed to make the cheese firm
- 1 tsp Tapioca flour — to get a bit of stretchy feel
- ¼ tsp Garlic powder
- Make the cheese molds by rubbing any vegetable oil onto the sides a glass bowl to prevent it from sticking on to its sides.
- Add all the ingredients into a saucepan and stir it gently with a whisk
- Heat this mixture on a medium flame by stirring frequently and bring it to boil.
- Turn off the heat once it boils and stir it continuously for 6 minutes to get a smooth consistency.
- Pour into the cheese molds already prepared
- Cool for about 15 minutes at the room temperature. Once cooled, transfer it to the refrigerator and keep it for 2 hours for it to set firmly.
- Once it is set, you can transfer it to a sealed container and store it for over a week.
You can add this freshly prepared vegan cheese to any of your favorite dishes.
Some useful hacks
- To use this cheese for pizza making, add 2 additional tablespoons of tapioca starch. It will give the required stretchy texture
- You can leave out tapioca starch if you want some firmer variety.
- You can also substitute coconut milk with any other plant-milk if you do not like the smell of coconut milk.
This vegan delight is sure to be a favorite among all age groups.