Consider yourself warned: this is a decidedly non-raw post! But I think it’s a topic of interest to many vegans, especially those who are new to the lifestyle.
It’s now super easy to find vegan alternatives for virtually any common animal products on the market. There are countless varieties of soy, rice, almond and hemp milks, dairy-free sour cream and cream cheese, egg replacement products, fake meat, and so on — many of which are damn good imitations of the originals. But as many will attest, for a long time no one had succeeded in creating a reasonable approximation of cheese. Sure, some brands make orange-coloured blocks of hard stuff that look like cheese, smell a bit like cheese, and sometimes even sort of taste like cheese, but when it comes to the aspect of cheese that most people love – melting – they all more or less fail.
But all this changed with the introduction of Daiya vegan cheese. The buzz around Daiya has been solid for months. It won VegNews’ Product of the Year, and everywhere I go vegans are talking about it. I think part of what adds to the excitement is that it seems notoriously hard to get — it isn’t widely available in stores yet, and has mostly been sold prepared in restaurants. Up here in the great white North of Toronto, we had yet to experience Daiya — until this week, that is! Rumor had it that Daiya had hit the shelves of our local vegan store, Panacea.
Now, I’ve moved far away in recent years from relying on meat/dairy replacement products. I used to enjoy them, and I find they are tremendously useful for anyone new to the diet, or trying to consume fewer animal products. But at this point in my life, I eat mostly non-processed, raw food, and seldom consume replacement-type products. I feel best eating mostly raw and unprocessed, so I try not to stray too far from this diet. I was still excited to try Daiya, but not nearly as excited as my boy. He is newer to eating all vegan, and his last holdout was cheese, and it’s the only thing he misses — he has been itching to try Daiya for ages. We tried to find it during recent vacations in NYC and LA, but for various reasons that didn’t work out. He practically ran to the store to pick it up, and was like a kid on Christmas morning while the nachos and pizza we made were in the oven.
So how was it? Just as awesome as anticipated. It melts, stretches, and tastes pretty close to cheese. (At least so far as I remember, it’s been awhile.) It contains no scary ingredients of the type sometimes found in fake cheese, and it’s not bad on the calorie front, either. I may indulge occasionally, but I have no doubt my now Daiya-obsessed boyfriend will always have a container in the fridge.
I’ll leave you with a photo of the pizza I made with it: whole wheat crust, pesto base, caramelized onions, grilled zucchini, portobellos, and red peppers, and sundried tomatoes. It was amazing! Next post will be back to raw, I promise