What do you think of when you hear the words vegan cheese? Did you say, “that’s impossible!” or make a face and say, “yuck”? I said, “I want to try it!”
For some of you, trying different foods is a real stretch. Why? Because our eating habits and preferences are highly personal – and fascinating! Why are some children “picky eaters” and others just happy to have something to eat? Adults too! Why do many men eat mostly meat and potatoes, but pass on vegetables and salads? Why do we eat fast, frozen and junk food even though we could make healthier choices?
As with anything new, there’s a bit of a mental adjustment. For example, plant-based burgers are not made from an animal, so expect the taste and texture to be different – yet similar. They are not meat and they never will be. After a few bites, your brain says “even though I have a hard-wired association with the word ‘hamburger,’ I can also like something else – and it’s better for me (and animals!).”
It’s the same with vegan cheese. To be honest, I had more doubts about finding a healthier alternative to one of my favorite foods than for meat. For me, that was easy (I love animals and even take bugs outside).
One day, while shopping at my neighborhood natural foods store, I met a lady named Robin Hendrickson. We struck up a conversation about eating vegetarian and she mentioned that she makes vegan cheese. Well, I was more than curious to see how it’s done and how it tastes, so we made plans and spent a fun morning making it. I brought my vegan friend Diane along with me to take some pictures and as a co-taster.
Robin decided to make a “cheese” sauce recipe for us that even her non-vegetarian husband likes! It’s easy and versatile so it can be used over pasta (like mac and cheese), veggies, and stirred into soup (which we did). In addition, she had also generously pre-made three other vegan cheeses – “brie,” “gruyere” and “parmesan” – using recipes from a cookbook titled Artisan Vegan Cheese by Miyoko Schinner.