VEGETARIAN JOURNAL



Vegetarian Journal 2008 Issue 3

Vegan Cheese

New and Improved Versions

By Melanie Campbell, VRG Dietetic Intern

Do you miss cheesy pizza or at least the consistency of cheese on pizza? The last few years have seen a boom in the vegan cheese market (including options from across the Atlantic). Today, there are several different companies producing a variety of vegan cheese alternatives that make that cheesy pizza a possibility.

At first glance, vegetarian cheese and vegan cheese may appear to be one and the same, but a closer review of the ingredient lists reveals the difference between the two types. Vegetarian cheese may contain casein, enzyme-modified cheese flavor (a derivative of cultured milk), butterfat, and, on occasion, goat’s milk and cream. Each of these ingredients is derived from animals. Vegan cheese is a non-dairy alternative that is often made from soy products (tofu, soy flour, tempeh), rice flour, potato starch, or almonds.

Nutrition

The nutritional content of vegan cheeses may vary. Vegan cheese slices contain 35-70 calories per serving, depending on the brand; dairy cheese slices yield approximately 50 calories each. Vegan cheese in block form can contain 40-100 calories per 1-ounce serving, compared to 90 calories from 1 ounce of dairy cheese.

Protein content in vegan cheese is low compared to dairy cheese, but this is due partly to the smaller serving size, which is less than 1 ounce. Vegan cheese slices have 1-2 grams of protein, while dairy versions have 4 grams of protein per slice. Vegan cheese in block form contains 0-4 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving; its dairy counterparts usually contain 7 grams of protein.

The vegan alternatives to cream cheese run approximately 80-85 calories per 2-Tablespoon serving size, compared to dairy cream cheese’s 100 calories. Vegan sour cream alternatives contain 50-85 calories per 2-Tablespoon serving size, while dairy-based sour cream has 60 calories. Grated Parmesan cheese alternatives contain 15 calories per 2 teaspoons; grated dairy Parmesan cheese provides 20 calories.

Dairy cream cheese and grated Parmesan have 2 grams of protein per serving, as do the vegan versions. The grated Parmesan contains less protein due to the fact that its serving size is so small (one third of an ounce). Both vegan and regular sour cream have very little protein (1 gram per serving).

The fat and saturated fat content in vegan cheese is often, but not always, less than its dairy counterpart. Sodium content in vegan cheese is variable. The sodium content can be equal to or higher than the dairy version, depending on the product.

If you intend to use vegan cheese as a source of calcium and vitamin D, you may want to supplement elsewhere in your diet. With the exception of the Galaxy brand (Vegan and Rice Vegan cheese), most vegan cheese barely contains calcium, much less vitamin D. Fortified soy products (tofu, soymilk, etc.) and dark leafy green vegetables are some good sources of calcium. Adequate sun exposure; vitamin D-fortified soymilk, juices, and cereals; and calcium supplements with vitamin D are good sources of vitamin D.

Taste

In a blind taste test (using VRG staff and volunteers), all vegan cheeses listed in the article were sampled. Some of these vegan cheeses were readily available in local health foods stores, and many can be purchased nationwide.

Cost

The average cost per item (for 4-11 ounces of product; see brand lists below and on the following page for actual package size) if purchased in a supermarket chain or health foods store is approximately $3. Cheezly and Sheese are only available from online retailers, such as Pangea and Vegan Essentials. Their average cost, not including shipping and handling, is approximately %#36;9 for 7-9 ounces of product. Soyabel and Soyadelia are German products from the Soyatoo! company, which makes Soy Whip. Currently, they are not available in the United States.

With all the vegan cheese alternatives available, there is no reason to feel deprived. So, go make that pizza!

Reference:

Brown, Amy Christine. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation, 2nd edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 2004.

Vegan Cheese Brands and Purchasing Information

Cheezly

• Products

– Slices: Cheddar, Mozzarella

– 7-Ounce Blocks: Cheddar Style with Bacon-Style Pieces, Edam, Garlic and Herb, Gouda, Mature Cheddar, Mature Cheddar (White), Mozzarella, Nacho

Brand Characteristics: Vegan; dairy/cholesterol/GMO/wheat/gluten-free; no hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, or preservatives

Where to Purchase: <www.redwoodfoods@nakedearthusa.com>, Vegan Essentials

Galaxy Nutritional Foods

• Products

– Rice Vegan Slices (8 slices): American, Cheddar, and Pepper Jack

– Vegan Slices (8 slices): American, Mozzarella

– Vegan Blocks (8 ounces): Cheddar, Mozzarella

– Vegan Grated Topping (4 ounces): Parmesan

Brand Characteristics: 100% non-dairy; casein/lactose/cholesterol/soy/gluten/preservative-free; zero trans fat

Where to Purchase: <www.galaxyfoods.com>, many grocery stores nationwide, online stores

Panos

• Product

– VeganRella (8-ounce block): Cheddar, Mozzarella

Where to Purchase: Grocery stores nationwide

Road's End Organics

• Products

Chreese mix (1.1-ounce powder): Cheddar, Gluten-Free Alfredo, Gluten-Free Cheddar, Mozzarella

Product Characteristics: Vegan; casein-free; dairy-free; egg-free; soy-free

Uses: With pasta or on grilled cheese, pizza, lasagna, casseroles, and subs

– Nacho Chreese Dip (11-ounce jar): Nacho Mild, Nacho Spicy

Product Characteristics: Lactose-free/gluten-free; low sodium; no casein or rennet; wheat-free; cholesterol-free

Uses: With tortilla chips or Mexican dishes

Where to Purchase: <www.chreese.com>, <www.edwardandsons.com>, online stores

Sheese

(Bute Island Foods, Scotland)

•Products

– Creamy Sheese (9 ounces); Chives, Cheddar, Garlic and Herb, Mexican Style, Original

Product Characteristics: Vegan; 100% dairy-free; cholesterol/lactose/gluten-free; non-GMO; no hydrogenated fat

– Sheese (8-ounce block): Blue, Cheddar and Chives, Cheshire, Edam, Gouda, Medium Cheddar, Mozzarella, Smoked Cheddar, Strong Cheddar

Product Characteristics: Vegan; 100% dairy-free; cholesterol/lactose/gluten-free; non-GMO

Where to Purchase: < www.buteisland.com>, or <www.blackduckimports.com>, online stores

Soyatoo!

(Tofutown, Germany)

•Products

– Soyabel Cheese (Block): Black Pepper, Crunchy Hazelnut, Herbs, Paprika, Roasted Onion, Supreme Baked, Supreme Nature, Very Italian Herbs

–Soyadelia Cream Cheese (Cream of Soy Cheese): Herbs, Paprika, Supreme Nature

Brand Characteristics: Suitable for vegetarians and vegans; 100% Vegetal (relating to plants); 0% cholesterol, 0% lactose, 0% casein

Where to Purchase: Not yet available in the United States

Tofutti

• Products

– Better Than Cream Cheese (8 ounces): French Onion, Garden Veggie, Garlic and Herb, Herbs and Chives, Non-Hydrogenated Plain, Plain

• Tofutti Soy Cheese Slices (12-slice package): American, Mozzarella

Brand Characteristics: Milk-free, no casein/animal products/butterfat/cholesterol

Where to Purchase: <www.tofutti.com> ,many grocery stores nationwide, Pangea

Vegan Gourmet

(Follow Your Heart)

•Products

–Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese (8 ounces) and Sour Cream Alternatives (16 ounces): Plain

Product Characteristics: Organic; gluten/wheat-free; 100% dairy-free; no hydrogenated fat/no trans-fat; no cholesterol

–Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative (10-ounce block): Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Nacho

Product Characteristics: 100% dairy-free; casein/gluten-free; no cholesterol/animal products

Where to Purchase: <www.imearthkind.com>, online store

Nutritional Content of Vegan Cheese Slices (Per slice)

Product Galaxy Rice: Vegan Slices Galaxy Vegan Slices Tofutti Soy: Cheese Slices Kraft 2% Milk Singles*
Calories 45 35 70 50
1 2 3 4
Total Fat (grams) 2.5 2 5 2.5
Saturated Fat (grams) 0.5 0 2-3 1.5
Sodium (milligrams) 130-140 150-160 290 290
Primary Ingredient(s) Rice Soy Soy Milk

Nutritional Content of Vegan Cheese in Block Form (1 ounce)

Product Cheezly Sheese Soyabel Vegan Gourmet VeganRella Kraft Cracker Barrel*
Calories 69 100 94 70 50 90
Protei (grams) 1 4 9 1 0 7
Total Fat (grams) 5 8 6 3-7 2 6
Saturated Fat (grams) 3 5 3 0-0.5 0 4
Sodium (milligrams) 310 310-340 N/A 110-160 2000 240
Primary Ingredient(s) Soy Soy Soy Soy Tapioca Starch/Brown Rice Flour Milk

Nutritional Content of Vegan Cream Cheese (2 Tablespoons)

Product Creamy Sheese Soyadelia Cream of Soy Cheese Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese Alternative Kraft Philadelphia cream Cheese*
Calories 80 82 85 90 100
Protein (grams) 2 3 1 2 2
Total Fat (grams) 7 8 5 8 10
Saturated fat (grams) 3 3 2 3 6
Sodium (milligrams) 140 N/A 160 115 90
Primary Ingredient(s) Soy Soy Soy Soy Milk/Milk Fat

Nutritional Content of Vegan Sour Cream (2 Tablespoons)

Product Tofutti Sour Supreme Better Than Sour Cream Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream Alternative Kraft Breakstone's All Natural Sour Cream*
Calories 85 50 60
Protein (grams) 1 0 1
Total Fat (grams) 5 5 5
Saturated Fat (grams) 2 1 3.5
Sodium (milligrams) 160 25 10
Primary Ingredient(s) Soy Soy Milk/Cream

Nutritional Content of Vegan Cheese Dips (Serving Sizes Vary)

Product Chreese Mix (powdered mix that consumer must prepare, 1 1/3 Tablespoons per serving) Nacho Chreese Dip (prepared dip sold in a jar, 2 Tablespoons) Kraft Cheez Whiz Cheez Dip - Original* (1 1/4 teaspoons per serving)
Calories 35 15 <90/td>
Protein (grams) 2 1 3
Total Fat (grams) 0 0 7
Saturated Fat (grams) 0 0 4.5
Sodium (milligrams) 260 55 490
Primary Ingredient(s) Flour/NutritionalYeast Lentil Flour/Nutritional Yeast Milk/Milk Fat

Nutritional Content of Vegan Cheese Toppings (2 teaspoons)

Product Galaxy Vegan Grated Topping Kraft Grated Cheese*
Calories 35 15
Protein (grams) 2 1
Total Fat (grams) 0 0
Saturated Fat (grams) 0 0
Sodium (milligrams) 260 55
Primary Ingredient(s) Flour/Nutritional Yeast Parmesan Cheese/Skim Milk

Products containing organic ingredients are italicized.

*Non-vegan products are included for comparison purposes.


Melanie Campbell wrote this article while doing a dietetic internship with The Vegetarian Resource Group. She is currently working towards a master’s degree in applied nutrition at Sage Graduate School in Albany, New York.


Excerpts from the 2008 Issue 3

Dried Fruit: Treasures to Savor All Year Round
Debra Daniels-Zeller incorporates apricots, cherries, dates, figs, prunes, raisins, and more into every course of your meal.
An Update on Rennet
Jeanne Yacoubou, MS, learns the latest about cheesemaking ingredients.
How Many People Order Vegetarian Meals When Eating Out?
See the results of The VRG’s latest poll.
Quick-and-Easy, Lower Budget Vegan Items to Serve in Institutional Settings
Chef Nancy Berkoff stretches your dollar in this Foodservice Update.
Vegetarianism in Political Magazines
VRG Intern Bobby Allyn searches LexisNexis for articles on vegetarianism and veganism.
Nutrition Hotline 2
Are there links between my daughter’s acne and her vegetarian diet?
Note from the Coordinators 4
Letters to the Editors 5
Vegan Cooking Tips 20
Fast Sandwich Spreads, by Chef Nancy Berkoff
Notes from The VRG Scientific Department 23
Scientific Update 24
Book Reviews 31
Catalog 33
Vegetarian Action 35
Chef Ralph Estevez: An Interview with the Team Chef of the Washington Redskins, by Melanie Campbell


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