Looking for your fill of the best vegan cheeses in the UK? Here’s everything you need to know to get a dairy-free fix.
“The worst thing about being a vegan is giving up cheese.” It’s the response our Picture Editor and resident vegan writer Alessia Armenise declared when quizzed on the restrictions of a plant-based diet, and it’s probably something you’ve heard a vegan friend spout, or thought yourself, when faced with a bubbling, mozzarella-topped pizza.
Although there are some vegan cheeses on the market (Holland and Barrett, for example, brought out a vegan cheese board over Christmas), they’re generally few and far between.
So we imagine herbivores everywhere will be pleased to learn that a vegan cheesemonger has opened its doors in Brixton, becoming the first of its kind in the UK.
Founded by two sisters from South Wales, La Fauxmagerie was born out of a shared passion for finding genuinely delicious dairy-free cheese after Charlotte realised she was lactose intolerant and joined Rachel in embracing a plant-based lifestyle.
As well as bringing their customers the “finest plant-based cheeses the UK has to offer,” Rachel and Charlotte are also passionate about making sure their business is sustainable as possible and only use recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
La Fauxmagerie opened earlier this month and sells a selection of vegan cheeses for every purpose, from melting and grating, to spreadable vegan cream cheese.
The shop has already caused a stir with the locals, but not all of the attention the new shop has received has been positive.
Metro reports that Dairy UK, an organisation that promotes dairy products, has discredited La Fauxmagerie, claiming that the shop is misleading to the public and shouldn’t advertise as a cheesemongers.
But the sisters seem to be pretty unfazed by the comments, and have responded with a somewhat brilliant shutdown: “It’s clear in the name of our business that we are selling dairy free products – it’s a pun. Our tagline also clearly states we are a ‘plant based cheesemonger’.
“We are not misleading and the claim that we are discredits the consumers and underestimates the intelligence of our customers. It all seems a little unnecessary, people are generally aware that plant based means non-dairy.”
But although we’re confident most of us have a comprehension of the term, there’s definitely still some confusion around exactly what vegan cheese is made from and where to get it. So, because we’re helpful like that, here’s a run down of some of the most asked questions around vegan cheese.
What is vegan cheese?
Simply put, vegan cheese is non-dairy or plant-based cheese designed to sate the appetite of vegans or those with a lactose intolerance. It looks like cheese, it tastes similar to cheese, it has a similar consistency and can do many of the things that cheese can, like melting or grating, but it’s completely free of all animal products.
What is vegan cheese made of?
There are a variety of vegan cheese recipes and the ingredients used depend on the desired texture and density of the cheese. But there are a few commonly used ingredients that you’ll find in most vegan cheese mixtures.
In place of dairy, blends will often include soy protein (although this is more common in rubbery varieties), solidified vegetable oil like coconut, nutritional yeast, blended nuts and a thickening agency like agar flakes.
Is vegan cheese healthy?
This is a bit of a tricky one. Not all vegan cheeses are created equal, therefore it’s hard to determine whether they are healthy as a default, but eating vegan cheese in general is better for you as it has lower cholesterol. However, they can also be quite heavily processed in how they’re made, and eating any processed foods in excess will never be especially healthy.
Essentially the simpler the recipe the better it will be for you, and pared back soft cheese options made with nuts may be high in fat but are also a lot healthier than a block of brie.
Is lactofree cheese vegan?
Not always. Lactofree cheese is often still made with dairy, but has had the lacto removed. This means lactofree cheese may still contain animal products such as whey or casein proteins, which are found in cow’s milk, so it’s really important to read the label thoroughly.
Where can I buy vegan cheese in the UK?
Of course, the UK’s first plant-based cheese monger, La Fauxmagerie is a good place to start, but you should also check out independent website Kinda Co, too.
Dairy free brand Koko does a range of dairy free cheese including cheddar and a soft cream cheese, which is available in supermarkets such as Waitrose, while Violife also does a selection of vegan cheese and is sold in Tesco and Sainsburys.
Images: Kinda Co / Instagram