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A Curiosity Satisfied: The Edible Edition

Zuzu Tadeushuk

My Brief (and Blessedly So) Encounter with Vegan Cheese

I’ve been a Vegetarian all my life. Which means that I depend on dairy (cheese, mostly) as one of my primary sources of protein— and for a little indulgent, high-caloric yumminess every once in a while.  Well, more than once in a while: cheese goes with everything, what can I say… Well, imagine my dismay— nay, horror— when my doctor told me that in hopes of remedying the recurring stomach bugs I’ve been having recently I should…quit dairy. Me, quit dairy? I can live without meat (duh); I can live without gluten (there are so many worthy alternatives); but please doctor, not the cheese! Did she know what she was asking? 

Just for three months, she assured me— just to test it. So I resignedly abandoned dairy, one and a half months ago. Alas not longer yet… but it does get easier as I go. The hell becomes a bit less hellish, you could say— in all respects but one. Though the nostalgia for milk in my coffee may wane daily, what does NOT lessen is the utter grossness of VEGAN CHEESE. Hush, hush! don’t even invoke its name! It is a living (literally: fermented) force of evil, the eleventh of Moses’ Ten Plagues— arrived a few millennia late, perhaps, but for all it’s tardiness no worse equipped to rival the frog deluge or boil epidemic of Ancient Egyptian days. 

But hope springs eternal, they say, and in an ongoing attempt to find something to occupy the hallowed position cheese held in my life, I’ve been conducting some vegan research. Today in some free hours, I did a “cheese” taste test (forcing my poor family to participate— trauma, I know), and my results are charted below, in the most-commonly agreed-on order of worst to best. If you’re obligatorily vegan I apologize in advance for verbally crapping on the products you’ve probably convinced yourself are perfectly palatable— and necessarily so. Sorry, but… as one Huffington post editor said in an article on the stuff, “Ick x 3.”

Vegan Cheese Sampling, Worst to Best

#5. Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella:
Ok.. never get near this stuff please. First, the texture is like that of melted plastic (as is the flavor, it just so happens) but worse by far is the filmy aftertaste it leaves in your mouth: bubblegum. This, however, is bubblegum that you stuck behind your ear for a few days (during which interim you neglected to shower) and then decided to eat again. Yes, folks, this deserves to be the dictionary definition of “Blech” (although I don’t think “blech” is actually in the dictionary yet? Soon it will be, though— and with a picture of “Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella” beside it)!

  •  “Maybe would be edible if melted.”
  •  “Like the worst American cheese I could imagine”

#4. Treeline Aged Artisanal Cashew Cheese, Classic:

This cheese comes in a beautifullll, fancy package— but don’t let that fool you. It tastes more like wallpaper paste than any aged, artisanal food product I know. 

  •  “Honestly this could be glue.”
  •  “More like a spread than a cheese… I could eat it though.”

#3. Homemade by Recipe, Cheddar:

 I tried a recipe I found online, and was sorely disappointed. After diligently boiling and pulverizing carrots, potatoes, and cashews with garlic, I found myself in possession of a sort of pungent cement that was posturing, it seemed, as fondue. Even down to it’s lumpy orange color. Meh.

  • “It’s ok when it’s fresh and still hot”
  • “Would never voluntarily put this in my mouth”

#2. Treeline: "Soft French-Style Nut Cheese in Garlic Herb Flavor:" 

Basically, “Garlic Herb flavor” says it all. When it comes to this spread, the only thing I really have to say about it (aside from the fact that it was criminally overpriced at $8.29 for a tiny jar!!!) is that it is very, very garlicky. It is palatable, yes, but just as another dubious-looking, breath-befouling hors d’oeuvre you find at a family party. Not quite as cheese. 

  • “Too sharp. Bitter.”
  • “Not bad. Kind of like Boursin”

#1. Chao Slices, by Field Roast: Creamy Original

This is the most cheese-like non-cheese I’ve tasted to date. I actually found myself eating it straight by the slice, without having to mask it’s taste with crackers as I did the others. Right color, right texture…quite a happy discovery. 

  • “Very good, very believable”
  • “Yeah, I would maybe eat it.”