A Guide to Vegan Cheese

By Casey Brown and Sasha Keenan, VRG Interns

Many people are afraid to go vegan because they think they "cannot live without cheese." What they do not realize is that they don't have to live without cheese. There are so many vegan cheese options on the market today that can substitute for any kind of cheese you are looking for — Parmesan, ricotta, shreds, cream cheese, and more. These products can be found at most supermarkets, and many restaurants are even beginning to offer vegan alternatives to cheese. We have compiled a list of vegan cheeses to compare their ingredients, nutritional information, cost, availability, and more.


Generally speaking, non-dairy cheeses contain no cholesterol and are lower in saturated fat than dairy cheeses. Non-dairy cheeses are a reduced fat alternative to dairy cheeses. For example, a slice (19 grams) of Go Veggie brand Vegan Cheddar Slices contains 35 calories, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of saturated fat, while a slice (21 grams) of Kraft Deli Deluxe Cheese contains 70 calories, 4 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 3.5 grams of saturated fat.

Vegan cheese shreds are popular substitutes and can be found in most supermarkets. Go Veggie, Follow Your Heart, and Daiya all offer vegan substitutes for shredded cheese. These options contain 70-90 calories, 0-1 gram of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 2-4 grams saturated fat in one serving (1/4 cup). One serving of a Kraft Sharp Cheddar cheese contains 110 calories, 6 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 6 grams of saturated fat.

Typically, Parmesan cheese is made using rennet, which is derived from the stomach lining of cows, so it is often not even considered to be a vegetarian product. The vegan Parmesan alternatives are often made using nutritional yeast among other ingredients, so they can contain up to 15% of the recommendation for vitamin B12. Other vegan cheeses not made with nutritional yeast don't supply vitamin B12. The serving size for these products is 2 teaspoons, and each serving has 15-25 calories, 1-2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 35-95 milligrams of sodium. This is very similar to the standard option of Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese, which contains 20 calories, 2 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, and 75 milligrams of sodium in a 2-teaspoon serving.

Dairy cheese options typically contain around 20% of the day's recommendation for calcium. However, other than the Go Veggie products, which contain 20-30% of the recommendation for calcium, most non-dairy cheese alternatives have little or no calcium in them. Vegans can obtain calcium through fortified products including soymilk, tofu, and orange juice or through dark, leafy green vegetables.

It is important to note that most dairy cheeses contain more protein than non-dairy cheese, but it is uncommon for non-dairy cheese to be an integral part of a vegan or vegetarian diet, thus it is very unlikely the protein difference between dairy and non-dairy cheese would be an issue. Still, non-dairy cheese should not be relied on as a protein source.


Although some people think a vegan diet is pricey, a nutritious plant-based diet can actually cost less than an omnivorous diet. Common vegan staple foods — fresh vegetables, rice, oats, pasta, legumes, and seasonal fruits — are often cheaper than meats, poultry, fish and eggs. Typically, vegan cheese substitutes are more expensive than dairy cheeses. An 8-oz. bag of Daiya shredded cheese cost around $4.00, while an 8-oz. bag of Kraft shredded cheese costs about $2.50. An 8-oz. container of Tofutti cream cheese costs about $4.50, while an 8-oz. container of Philadelphia cream cheese costs around $2.50. The dairy counterparts are less expensive than the vegan substitutes, and they can often be bought in larger quantities for a lower cost. Although the non-dairy alternatives are more expensive, these products can be used in moderation to add flavor to your dishes.

Note: Prices are from Walmart.com and Amazon.com

To see a complete list of vegan cheese brands and purchasing options, as well as characteristics of the various vegan cheese brands and more comparison tables, visit: