Sunday, November 28, 2010

Vegan Cheese, The Odyssey

My daughter K was diagnosed with having severe allergies to all dairy & eggs by the time she was 1 year old. At first, finding things for her to eat seemed impossible - almost everything out there has some form of milk or egg in it! Her allergist gave us lists of ingredients that she needs to avoid at least until she is 2, and that list is quite extensive.

Failing to find foods other than fruit & vegetables, I enlisted the help of my vegan friends. I figured that if anybody knew how to avoid milk & eggs, it would be them. Once I learned a few key tricks to substitution, cooking for K became much easier. But some staple foods of life were still out of reach for K. She couldn't have those kid favorites like mac & cheese or pizza. And then I heard about vegan cheese....If this stuff was any good, it would open up a whole new world of foods for K! So I asked around & got some recommendations from friends.

The first brand I tried was called "Have A Heart". I bought a block of mozzarella so that I could take a stab at making pizza for K at home. Eating it uncooked wasn't so bad! It tasted very similar to regular mozzarella cheese & the consistency, although "spongier" than regular cheese, wasn't gag-worthy. And then we tried the pizza & it was awesome! If I hadn't known it wasn't real cheese, I might not have guessed anything was different!! Except for the fact that it did not melt very well, it only partially melted. But taste-wise, we give it a thumbs-up, as did K!

The second brand I tried was called "Daiya", and this came highly recommended by a friend mostly because it actually melts. This time I got 2 bags - one of already shredded cheddar, and one of the mozzarella. We tried the cheddar first while making quesadillas. When trying it uncooked I couldn't even get it down - I had to spit it out. The texture was atrocious, and the taste was not even close to any kind of cheese I have ever had. But I cooked with it anyway. Not only did it not melt, but it did not taste any better when cooked either. K didn't seem too happy with it either as she would not eat her quesadilla after tasting it! Oh no! When I talked to my friend who recommended it, she said there wasn't really much of a difference between the taste of the cheddar & the mozzarella, so this left me doubtful that the mozzarella would be any better.

But I tried it anyway, just in case it worked out. I made another pizza, and uncooked the mozzarella tasted exactly like the cheddar did - awful! Again, I had to spit it out. But I continued with the pizza anyway. This time the cheese melted a little bit better, but not entirely. The pizza ended up tasting OK - not as good as the first with "Have A Heart", but I didn't gag, LOL. I think it was saved because of the flavor of the sauce & veggies that I used as well, so I'm still not happy with the "Daiya" cheese & don't plan on buying it again!

There are a few more vegan cheeses out there that we have yet to try, and I have to admit that I'm a little scared of what we're in for! But for now, we're happy with the "Have A Heart" brand & will stick to that for pizza. Do you have a favorite vegan cheese?

K enjoying her first piece of pizza :)


  1. I still can't believe it! I'm grateful you like the Follow Your Heart, but I feel the same way about that as you do the Daiya! I choke it down & can't eat it raw. Hahahaha! To each her own. :)

  2. LOL. Differences in taste always amaze me :) What one finds delicious, another can detest. Mind boggling!