Whether you’ve voluntarily gone vegan, or are going dairy free on your doctor’s orders, cheese may be something you discover you really miss. I grew up eating cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese sandwiches. My mother and father bought the best they could afford for we children – no Velveeta or cheeze food for us. With some tomato and dill pickle and a little crisp lettuce, cheese sandwiches were daily fare in our house. Like many vegans, giving up meat was really no problem for me. 20 years later, I really have no cravings for it, but from time to time, I think of that simple cheese sandwich satisfaction and want to have the enjoyment of that again.
I’ve tried the soy, rice and almond based vegan cheese substitutes in the store. To me, they taste like rubber. My husband says he thinks they aren’t too bad, but he grew up eating American cheese singles, and so maybe the manufacturers of these vegan substitutes are having better success with taste buds that are attuned to that kind of semi-plastic-y product. So, the available processed imitation cheese products just don’t do it for me when I feel that cheese sandwich yearning coming over me, and maybe you’re in the same boat. If so, I invite you to give my vegan cheese recipe a try and see if it cuts the mustard for you!
My Gourmet Vegan Dairy Free Cheese Recipe
A knife to chop the herbs
A spoon to spoon up the tahini
A 16 ounce glass mason jar with lid
Chop your herbs and put them in the jar
Add vinegar and oil and whisk them up with the spoon
Whisk in salt and pepper (remember, conventional cheese has a lot of salt in it so be free with the salt in this recipe)
Add the tahini (or the ground sesame seeds) and nutritional yeast to the jar
Close lid tightly and shake vigorously for about half a minute, and that’s it!
Store your cheese in the refrigerator. You may need to shake it again before each use as the olive oil likes to separate from the tahini. The mixture will remain quite good for about a week – if it lasts that long in your house.
What Does This Homemade Vegan Cheese Taste Like?
That’s what I’d want to know first, too. There is something about the combination of the nutty sesame that’s in tahini, the tang of the sharp rice vinegar and the cheesiness of the nutritional yeast, with the addition of salt, that tastes quite a bit like cheddar cheese, but I find it’s not quite ‘enough’ on its own. Frankly, tahini is so delicious, it’s good all on its own, but we’re striving for a real cheesiness here and I find that the addition of the olive oil is very important, as it mimics the high fat content in conventional cheese (without the cholesterol!) Finally, the inclusion of fresh herbs makes the finished vegan cheese most akin to those herbed gourmet soft cheeses that people pay big money for and serve at parties.
In my childhood home, my family celebrated New Year’s with a selection of exciting crackers and cheeses and the herbed spreadable cheeses from Boursin and Alouette were our favorites – spread on a cracker with a little dab of ruby red currant jelly on top. My, we felt like we were living high! This dairy free cheese recipe comes closest to that type of cheese. In consistency, it is somewhat more thick-dip-like than cream-cheese-like, and it spreads beautifully.
Suggested Uses for this Vegan Cheese Recipe
I’ve already mentioned the utterly satisfying cheese sandwich, topped with your choice of pickles, pepperoncini, garden-fresh tomato, crisp lettuces, maybe hobbit-style with toasted bread and loads of sauteed mushrooms. Anything you once enjoyed on a cheese sandwich goes excellently with this dairy-free cheese recipe.
If you’re a dipping fan, try this with crackers, pita, tortilla chips or crunchy celery and carrots sticks. Totally delicious for a light snack.
Use as an additional topping on our gluten free vegan pizza recipe, added in the last minute of cooking the pizzas in the oven just to heat it slightly. No, like pretty much all vegan cheeses, it doesn’t melt into stringiness, but it’s pretty gooey just as it is – like conventional pizza cheese.
Try it in tacos and burritos or on nachos, loaded up with refried beans, brown rice, guacamole, tomatoes and chili peppers, salsa or whatever you fancy.
And, if you are one of those discriminating people who thinks that apple pie simply isn’t complete without a bit of cheese, spread a small amount of this vegan cheese on your next juicy spicy slice and you’ll let out a sigh of deepest satisfaction.
Reasons To Feel Really Good About Going Dairy-Free
Of particular concern to elders, the 3 countries in the world with the highest dairy consumption – United States, Sweden, and Finland – are also the 3 countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis. Medical science has traditionally pushed for the consumption of dairy products as a way to get protein and calcium. In modern times, numerous respected medical studies have revealed that the high amount of protien in animal products actually causes limited absorption of the calcium in them, when compared to the absorption rates of calcium eaten in plant forms. The Dairy industry continues to promote its products as your key to healthy bones, but independent scientists want you to know the truth.
In addition to this, the first advice given to most Americans by their doctors when a patient is suffering from intestinal disorders, high cholesterol and heart diseases is often to stop eating dairy products. If you’ve found your way to this article because you’re trying to create a new dairy-free menu for yourself because of a health concern, I hope this recipe will help you to take comfort in the fact that dairy-free foods can be exceptionally delicious when prepared with thought and care.
Remember, going dairy free is actually a very natural thing to do – not something outrageous. Human beings are the only animals on earth that drink milk past infancy. The milk that is taken from mother cows is not meant for us – it is meant for their calves. Going dairy free means breaking out of the bizarre cycle of permanent infancy most Americans live in – and get sick from. If you are seeking a new dairy-free lifestyle, I sincerely hope it brings you better health.
For The Animals
I believe the world’s people will live to see the day when we look back on our past of forcing animals to labor for our purposes, without their consent, with dismay. Dairy cows lead heartbreaking lives; mechanically forced to reproduce, deprived of their children, drugged, kept in an unnatural state of permanent lactation, fed waste products and finally, slaughtered when they are of no ‘use’ to people any more, these beings are victims of almost unthinkable cruelty and lack of regard for their dignity.
Many people turn to vegetarianism when they learn about the horrors of animals slaughtered for meat, and I applaud that response of compassion for the suffering of others. It’s important to understand that this same suffering is inherent in animals used by the Dairy industry as well. On the other side of every glass of milk, every slice of cheese, is a veal calf, stolen from its mother, held in unbearable confinement and slaughtered in infancy. And, the slaughterhouse is waiting at the end of every dairy cow mother’s life, too. Very often, people make the move from vegetarianism to veganism because they suddenly realize how the meat and dairy industries are interconnected and how the suffering is the same for all animals involved.
For The Planet
The factory farming of cows is doing more to destroy our planet’s ecology and contribute to global warming than is our car driving habit in America. The methane belched by cows is one of the major contributors to climate change and the waste produced by factory farms has totally contaminated much of our precious water supply. Our consumption of meat and dairy means polluted skies, a suffering ecology and hungry people around the world. It’s unsustainable and unfair to future generations.
By opting out of dairy product consumption, you are making an extremely important difference in the fate of our world. That may sound grandiose, but it truly isn’t. Just think about the future, and what a simple act like making your own dairy-free cheese might do. Maybe you’ll share a sandwich with a friend who will come back and ask you for your recipe. Maybe you’ll be able to help out a sick loved one by mastering healthful cooking and making their transistion to a healthier diet not just easier, but a real pleasure. If you have children, maybe they’ll some day be blogging nostalgically about those mouthwatering vegan cheese sandwiches you made for them. And, maybe they’ll be feeding them to their own children.
It’s thoughts like this that help me to realize that a recipe can be more than a recipe. It can be a plan for a kinder, more compassionate future for people and all God’s creatures. Suddenly, that tasty vegan cheese tastes even better in your mouth when you think about it that way and food, made with knowledge, skill and love, becomes a blessing.
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