First of all, many people wonder why people prefer to eat plant-based cheeses. If you do eat dairy cheese, then choose local brands from free-range farmers. But in the factory-farming industry, the baby calves are usually shot at birth (no profit), which is why vegans don’t eat cheese. Cheese is also high in cholesterol and many people are lactose-intolerant. This has given rise to most supermarkets now offering vegan cheeses. But these are mostly yuk – one reviewer called one brand tasting like ‘solidified vomit’. They are mostly made with coconut oil (a cheap nasty way of making vegan cheese) and offer no protein or calcium, and are also packed in plastic. They also tend not to melt well. Try an artisan vegan cheese, and you’ll be converted. Made from nuts (so high in protein and calcium), these are proper cheeses made the proper way, and although expensive, a little goes a long way with crackers, grapes and apple slices. Treat yourself, and support your local indie health stores that sell them!
Artisan Vegan Cheese from Somerset
Kinda Co. was founded by a lifelong cheese addict, who after ditching dairy, began experimenting in the kitchen to make quality plant-based cheeses made from cashews and almonds, along with coconut oil, miso and mustard. The cheeses are made fresh each week, so use up quickly, and keep in the fridge. They do freeze for up to 6 months, but defrost overnight in the fridge. All packaging where possible is compostable and easy-to-recycle. The one-woman enterprise that started out of a tiny London flat to sell at markets, is now a commercial brand in Somerset that offers 12 types of dairy-free cheeses, sold at many indie stores and online (Green Bay Supermarket and The Vegan Kind Supermarket).
- Farmhouse Block is the most popular flavour, similar to sharp mature cheddar. Great for a sandwich or vegan cheeseboard, this is made with cashews, coconut oil, miso, onion, salt and culture.
- Smoked Farmhouse is infused with hand-harvested smoked Dorset Sea Salt. Good with tomato, lettuce and vegan mayo for the ultimate BLT. Or slice onto a burger, for a melted cheese topping.
- Cranberry is mild and creamy, with a tangy cashew base, studded with sweet cranberries. Good with crackers after a meal.
- Garlic & Herb is a creamy cultured cashew cheese, with a pink beetroot layer. Good on fresh crusty bread or on a cheeseboard.
- Summer Truffle is a popular creamy cashew cheese, that’s smooth and rich, finished with a pretty scattering of edible dried flowers. Good melted into a risotto to add some creamy richness, or with mashed potatoes.
- Smoked Chilli packs a spicy punch with the heat of chilli, and the smoked paprika. Hot but not too hot, good in a burrito, melted into pasta or dotted over a bowl of chilli.
- Spirulina Blue is mild and tangy with blue veins of superfood, milder than Stilton but still a bonus on the vegan cheeseboard. Good in a pear and walnut salad.
- Farmhouse Creamy Spread has a sharp cheddar flavour. Made from a cultured cashew base, it has an authentic cheesy taste. Good melted on hot toast, spooned onto a jacket potato or stirred into pasta.
- Faux Lox & Dill Creamy Spread is made from baked marinated carrots, combined with creamy cultured cashews, zesty lemon and fresh dill. Perfect on a toasted bagel, or on blinis with a cocktail.
- Nacho Dip is a cashew-based dip with smoky spicy flavours. Good for dunking sweet potato wedges, or drizzling over chilli.
- Italian Style is the perfect alternative to Parmesan. This hard Italian-styled grated topping comes in a jar. Just sprinkle on pasta or risotto, or add to a pizza or Caesar salad. Made from almonds, it even browns in the oven, so is good for topping a pasta bake or lasagne.
- Greek Style is a Feta-inspired cheese with a salty, creamy and crumbly textured. Marinated in oil with garlic and herbs, just eat out of the jar, add to a Greek salad or serve with pasta.
- Mozzarellie (named after the founder) is mild and creamy. Made for melting, this cashew-based cheese is perfect on pizza, pasta or makes an amazing cheese on toast, that bubbles and browns under the grill. Or scoop small spoonfuls from the jar and mix with fresh tomato slices and basil leaves, for a Caprese salad.
Sour Creme & Chive Spread is cool and smooth, made with fresh chives and black pepper. Perfect on a toasted bagel with cucumber slices, or spooned into potato skins.
Other Good Artisan Vegan Cheeses
- I Am Nut OK (Hackney, London) offers a range of artisan vegan cheeses, created by a cheese-loving American/Italian couple. These ‘not cheeses’ are wrapped in paper insulation and repurposed bubble wrap, the spreads are in glass jars and the Nozzarella uses plastic-free vacuum-sealed pouch. Includes Smoky Charcoal, Black Truffle, Italian Herb, Black Pepper Log, Ricotta in Garlic Oil and Oh, Grate! (alternative to Parmesan).
- Tyne Chease is as the name suggests, made on Tyneside. This gourmet cheese is worthy of any classic cheese and wine party, made to authentic cultured and matured recipes, inspired by traditions going back thousands of years. The flavours include Cashew Truffle, Smoked, Provencal, Applewood and Ethiopian.
- Mouse’s Favourite is sold in plastic-free packaging. The founder grew up in Jersey which is known for its creamy milk, so she is expert at creating cheeses that taste like the real thing. Ideal with a glass of wine, fresh crusty bread and chutney, the range includes Aged Dulse, Camembert, CamBlue, True Blue and Beer-Washed Rind.
- New Roots (Switzerland) is a lovely range of mostly cream cheeses. This company was founded by a couple after he (a racing biker) got injured, and they needed another source of income. The range includes Ricotta, Garlic Herb, Greek, Herbes de Provence and Soft Camembert.
Bath Culture House makes fermented gourmet vegan chease, in a hideout in the Mendip Hills. All the cheases are freshly fermented, created by a fermentation expert, who teaches vegan cheese-making courses at nearby Demuth’s Cookery School in beautiful Bath. Graduating in biology, the founder supplies over 60 local retailers and is a small business with 4 employees. Made with cashews, these cheases are great on crackers and with chutney or on bagels, crumpets or rye crispbread, the main cheese is a vegan equivalent to a soft goat’s cheese. The range includes:
- Smoked & Chipotle Chilli
- Garlic & Herb
- Sumac & Cumin
- Activated Charcoal
You can also try Y’extract Vegan Cheese, a spreadable keto cashew chease, a whipped blend of cultured cashew chease base and organic yeast extract from Essential Trading Co-op Good with crackers, in toasties, with kimchi or stirred into pasta sauce.
Where to Buy Vegan Fondue Cheese
Max & Bien make a nice fondue cheese to pair with bread and vegetables. Made with fermented cashew nuts, store in the fridge to stop the fermentation, so the cheese lasts longer. You can store leftovers in the freezer. Heat slowly on low to medium heat, until silky smooth. Willcroft makes a good ‘this is not cheese fondue’. Also made from double-fermented cashews with nutritional yeast (rich in vitamin B12), this also contains fermented quinoa, salt and garlic powder.
Y’extract Vegan Cashew Cheese is a spreadable cashew cheese, cultured with yeast extract. A kind of ‘yeasty cheese’, this is an ideal alternative to Marmite, which is made by a big food giant. The organic yeast extract from a workers’ co-op is combined with the cashew cheese to give a beautiful depth of flavour and unique taste. This cashew extract is made in the Mendip Hills in Somerset. Serve it with crackers or on toast, or add to beans, rice, couscous or pasta sauce.
Kinda Co Smoked Gouda (above) is made in Somerset. This popular cheese is firm and crumbly, with a mature smoky flavour. It grates beautifully and is perfect for slicing in sandwiches or topping pasta.
Vegusto No-Muh Classic is made by an award-winning Swiss company. Containg almond butter and rock salt, this is good hot or cold. It tastes similar to Gouda, with a mild taste of mushrooms. Semi-soft and creamy.
Vegusto Mildy Aromatic Cheese is a pale yellow semi-soft vegan cheese similar to Gouda, but without garlic. Truly cheesy, this grates and slices well, and is good in salads or on crackers. It won’t melt but does soften, when heated. It’s also good to form a brown crust on gratins and macaroni cheese.
Kinda Co Cashew Cream Cheese Spread is an alternative to cream cheese. Made in Somerset and sold in a glass jar, It’s made with a cultured cashew base along with oils, nutritional yeast, miso, onion powder and salt. With a cheddar-inspired taste, this is good melted on hot toast, stirred into pasta or spooned on a jacket potato. Cashews are often used to make vegan creamy cheesy flavours, because they are naturally buttery. They are also often used in vegan cheesecakes, as they are the ideal ingredient to make the ‘middle cheesy layer’, once sweetened with fruits added etc. This company was created by a woman who loved cheese, and wanted to create something close to it, after going vegan. Her company now sells some of the best artisan vegan cheeses on the market, in glass zero waste jars. She even has a vegan Mozzarellie, named after herself!
Honestly Tasty Images by @kathryn_armitage on Instagram
Cheddar is a very popular cheese, one for the purists who don’t like anything too fancy! Often used in sandwiches or on crackers, it’s also a big part of a Ploughman’s salad. Cheddar is the world’s most popular cheese, and stems from England, although is eaten worldwide. The name comes from the caves where the cheese used to be stored, and legend has that the milk left behind by a milkmaid at Cheddar Gorge, is how it accidentally turned into the cheese we know today. Even in the US, cheddar remains the second most popular cheese after Mozzarella.
Honestly Tasty Ched Spread is a spreadable mature cheddar alternative. It boasts a sharp and tangy taste, and can be used to make a vegan cheese sauce. It’s also ideal spread on a hearty Ploughman’s salad.
Other Good Vegan Cheddars
Food by Sumear Young Rockhill Cheese is very similar to cheddar, and made by an ex-dairy cheesemaker (you can also buy other cheeses, as part of a vegan cheesebox). Rich, deep and tangy, it’s full of cheddar-y umami notes, with a bit of a bite and crumble, yet creamy in your mouth. Ripened over 3 months and aged for 10 days, it lasts 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen. Sold in home-compostable cheese film.
Terra Vegane Mac & Cheese Cheddar is made by an organic company in Berlin (Germany), the most vegan-friendly city on earth. The pack includes pasta and a cheese sauce mix that you mix with plant milk and a palm-oil-free vegan butter.
How to Make Vegan Cheese Sauce
Cheese sauce is used extensively across England, but most comes from cows in factory farms. If you eat dairy, then choose cheese made from free-range cows. But even better yet, make your own vegan cheese sauce that is made with plant-based ingredients and has zero cholesterol and no packaging. It’s pretty easy to do, and you can then use it for all your favourite meals.
Vegan Cheese Sauce (The Veg Space) is rich and creamy, no-one would know it was free from dairy. Perfect for a cauliflower cheese, pasta bake or lasagne, you can also enjoy this poured over a veggie roast dinner.
Nut-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce (Rainbow Plant Life) is also free from oil and soy, with just 30 calories per 1/4 cup. It’s rich and creamy and made with wholesome and nourishing ingredients. Ideal for vegan grilled cheese sandwiches, nachos and quesadillas.
Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce (Crowded Kitchen) is perfect for burgers, roasted vegetables or nachos. Just 5 ingredients, and made in less than 10 minutes. You can also use it to make vegan macaroni cheese or use the same mother-and-daughter’s blog to make their own version using your favourite shredded vegan cheese along with a few other ingredients.
- The Vurger Co Cheezy Sauce is made by a London fast food chain. Free from soy, gluten and nuts, just pour it into a pan and heat up. The ultimate cheesy kitchen staple, to have on hand. Also in a spicy version.
- Sacla Vegan Cheese Sauce is sold in a glass jar with metal lid. Made with sunflower oil, this has a real cheesy taste and is ideal for a lasagne or crowd-pleasing vegan cauliflower cheese.
- Terra Vegane Vegan Cheese Sauce Mix is made with organic ingredients in Berlin (the most vegan-friendly city on earth). 1 pack makes 1 litre of cheese sauce for nachos, pasta, pizza, cauliflower cheese, mac and cheese or creamy vegetable sauces. For a special treat, add a dash of vegan cream.
The Vurger Co Cheezy Sauce
The Vurger Co Cheezy Sauces are from an award-winning vegan fast food brand with restaurants in London and Brighton, who now have launched retail products nationwide. The founders created the company after visiting California, and realising just how far behind the UK market was in offering tasty vegan food items. The range includes:
- Original Cheezy is perfect for mac and cheese, or dips and pasta
- Spicy Cheezy Sauce is packed with jalapeños, harissa and red chilli. This is ideal to dip nachos in, or to heat up for a perfect sauce for Mexican food.
Where to Buy Good Artisan Vegan Cheese
Mr & Mrs Watson Plant-Based Cheeses (The Netherlands) is a company that started with the question ‘What if we no longer use cows, to make cheese?’ The dream is to ‘change the world with food that’s good for the planet, animal welfare, humanity and your taste buds!’ The mission is accomplished when a compassionate, sustainable food culture is the norm.
You may wonder why a cheese company in Amsterdam is named after Mr & Watson? It’s not the name of the founders, but the name of the co-founders of the Vegan Society, back in 1944. Pioneers of their day, Donald had the misfortune to witness a pig being slaughtered on a farm. He was horrified and quickly went vegetarian and then vegan, and lived to the ripe old age of 95, often fell-walking and organic vegetable gardening, until shortly before his death in 2005.
Donald’s brother and sister both adopted vegan lifestyles later on, and also registered as conscientious objectors during World War 2. Their mother was once interviewed, and coming from a farming family, bemusedly lamented that she ‘felt like a hen that had hatched a clutch of duck eggs!’
These cheeses are naturally aged to let nature run its course (with the ‘slightest of nudges’. The result is a soft and creamy ‘Camemberti’ cheese in a fluffy white coat! The company also makes:
- Fermented Cashew Cheese with Italian Herb Crust (and a hint of oregano and garlic)
- Fire-red Vegan Cashew Cheese made with peppadew and chilli peppers
- Fermented Apricot Cheese Wheel (with warm notes of cumin, in a nut crust)
- A Fresh ‘Vegan Goat Cheese’ with cashews and sunflower seeds, and a hint of agave. Ideal for salad, sandwiches or pizza.
- Vegan Parmesan made with seeds, salt and aged Italian flavours.
I’ve experienced some seriously tasty plant-based cheese plates at revered vegan restaurants from Miami to Paris. But none has come close to perfection as the one from Mr & Mrs Watson. Each cheese is made in-house, and the flavours are exceptional. Aurelia, VegNews
Vegan Aged Fondue is made in Amsterdam from cashews, along with dry white wine and water. One jar is enough for two people.
You may have heard the song ‘tulips from Amsterdam’, now you can buy vegan cheese from the Dutch city too! Willicroft is a very interesting company that makes all kinds of plant-based goodies, from the country that gave us Edam and Gouda (which often are not vegetarian, as many versions contain calf rennet). This company cares about the planet as much as good (it even has its own sustainability advisor), so you can find planet-proof plant-based cheeses with no sacrifice in taste or texture.
The story begins back in Devon, England, where the founder’s grandparents built their farm from the ground up to feed the nation after the Second World War. Although back then nobody was really vegan, the animals had lots of room to graze and led long and healthy lives. After switching to a mostly plant-based diet in 2017, he realised that most cheese replacements did not come close to the food he grew up on, so he started experimenting, until he came up with quality products that were as good as, if not better, than the original:
I make vegan cheese in Amsterdam. And no-one here calls it faux. Brad
The company ensure that their plant-based ingredients are sustainably-sourced (mostly from local Dutch farmers) and although for stability the company presently uses some plastic, it is researching into using tins in the near future. Their retail store delivers plant-based cheeses from themselves and other brands across many European countries, in CO-2 neutral and reusable packaging, and all waste is composted, and packaging recycled.
Cashews are sourced from West Africa (where local farmers are paid a good wage, and local women provided with employment – the nuts are shelled using proper machinery to avoid skin damage from de-shelling nuts with a poisonous liquid emitted). Even their soy comes from southern France (not from rainforests) and their quinoa is also local (from Amsterdam). The leftover quinoa grain is turned into a delicious mustard, with help from a local chef. And sourcing local white beans means employment for farmers, on former dairy land. Organic coconut oil from Asia replaces palm oil, and the company is trialling a couple of locally-sourced fats. For the yeast-based cheeses, this ingredieint is from vegetable waste streams in France. The range sold at their online store includes:
- This Is Not Cheese Fondue that is perfect for long cold winter nights. The double fermentation packs quite the flavour.
- This Is Not Cheese Sauce is ideal as a dip, or use for pasta, white pizza, cauliflower cheese or macaroni cheese.
- This Is Not Grated Cheese can be sprinkled on pizza, pasta or salad. Store in a cool, dark place.
- This Is Not Greek White Cheese uses locally-sourced white beans. An alternative to Feta, this is good on salad or pasta, and melts perfectly on pizza. Also good drizzled with a little olive oil, and fresh herbs.
- This Is Not Truffle Sauce is packed with flavour, ideal as a dip or for a rich creamy vegan pasta dish.
Rosie & Riffy Cashew Camembertis (The Netherlands) is reinventing the classic French cheese. Tina and Steven dreamed of creating organic wholefoods, as an urgent respond to climate change and animal welfare. He’s the chef and she’s the photographer witih a lifelong passion for stunning flavour combinations. Together they’ve nailed it! All their cheeses use cashew nuts that produce 8 times less carbon dioxide than full-milk cheese, and they ensure sustainable packaging and organic certification across the board.
Made using traditional techniques, they are made from organic Fair Trade cashew nuts, and sold in an FSC-certified box. The range includes:
- Cashew Camemberti is the main flavour, a rich cheese that is soft on the inside, with a taste to bring you back to summer breaks in France.
- Truffle has a bloom white rin and the gentle flavour of organic black summer truffles, in white-truffle-infused extra virgin olive oil. Good in salad or on crusty bread or crackers.
- Ash & Pepper has a powerful rich black pepper centre, dressed in a delicate layer of ash, for a stunning display on your vegan cheeseboard.
Aged Creamy Cashew Wheels are aged to perfection over 5 to 8 weeks, and sold in plastic-free packaging. The range is ideal for the cheese-and-cracker experience, or cut in wedges to toss in salad or pasta. The range includes:
- Aged Natural
- Aged Garlic
- Aged Sage & Onion
- Aged Truffle
Volcanic Wheels are semi-hard ash-covered delights that use a special fermentation to ripen and add amazing flavour to food, with no need for additional herbs or spices. Ideal in salad or on crusty bread or crackers.
Creamy Cashew Wheels are spreadable, to add a twist to any dish. The range includes:
- Italian Mix
- Herbes des Provences
- Blue Fenugreek
- Black Pepper Mix
Where to buy Vegan Cashew Cheese
Cashew cheese is one of the most popular ingredients to make vegan cheese spreads, because the neutral-tasting buttery nuts lend themselves very well to making cheese (soaked cashews are often used to make the filling for vegan cheesecakes). Here are some nice plant-based recipes, followed by some of the best brands of vegan cashew cheese on the market today. Keep these cheeses away from pets and young children, as they contain nuts.
- Kinda Co (UK) started in London and is now based in Somerset. It offers a range of block and cream cheeses in zero waste packaging, mostly based on cashews.
- I Am Nut OK (UK) is a gourmet artisan vegan cheese brand, founded by an American and Italian, who missed the cheese, when they went vegan. The cream cheeses are in glass jars, and the range is immense. Flavours include C’e Dairy? (cheddar-style) and a vegan Italian goat cheese to add to pizza, pasta sauce or on crackers with sun-dried tomatoes.
- Tyne Chease (UK) stared out in a small flat in Newcastle, and is now one of the premier organic artisan vegan cheesemakers in England. The beautiful small cheeses are packed in wooden cheese boxes. Flavours include smoked, garlic and Ethiopian Spice, plus limited editions like Dukka (a Middle Eastern inspired cheese with pistachios, spices, chilli, sesame seeds and rose petals).
- Food by Sumear (UK) is an artisan company started by a former dairy cheesemaker. The range includes a young rockhill cheese, a maple wood smoked cheese and a creamy spread in a glass jar, perfect for bagels, crackers or tossing a spoon into spaghetti.
Y’extract Vegan Cheese Extract (UK) is made by an artisan who teaches cheesemaking at a vegan cookery school in Bath. Kind of like a ‘cheesy Marmite’, this is made in the Mendip Hills and is good stirred into pasta sauce or good with crackers, toasties – or with kimchi, couscous, rice or beans.
Try her Four Cheese Selection Box in four flavours (smoked & chipotle chilli, garlic herb, sumac & cumin and activated charcoal). This vegan equivalent to soft goat cheese is great with crackers and chutney, or spread onto bagels, crumpets or rye crispbread.
Kind Plant-Based Cheeses from Somerset
Sophie’s Artisan Vegan Cheeze is a small female-run company in southwest London. It makes a stunning range of plant-based cheeses made from nuts, herbs and spices. And everything is sold in plastic-free packaging.
The Rawmesan is unreal. I’d simply have pasta with a bit of vegan butter and this, and I’m blown away.