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  • Writer's pictureJenni Foshey

How Vegan Cheese and Meat is Made

Having a vegan version of any cheeses or meats always raises the question “but what is it made of?”


Each brand has a different way of making their cheese/meat, has different ingredients, and therefore has different tastes. I’ve done a little research into both cheese and meat is made and this is what I found:

 

Say Cheese


Many brands of cheese have a soy or nut base. You probably are thinking that sounds disgusting- to make cheese out of nuts. Just because it is made out of “weird” things, doesn’t mean it tastes like it. You are not going to bite into some vegan cheese and be like “ew this tastes like nuts.” Vegan cheese looks the same as dairy cheeses. You can get slices, blocks, and shreds. You can even get cheddar, pepperjack, mozzarella, and gouda!



Here are some examples of specific brands and their vegan cheese making process:


According to The Beet (a vegan health website), Real Vegan Cheese (a California-based company) combines plant-based milk protein with water, vegan oil (maybe vegetable or olive oil?? ) to make a vegan milk that can be turned into cheese the same way as dairy cheese.


Similarly, CNET (a health website) also claims that the vegan cheese making process is very similar to the dairy process. The main difference is instead of separating milk proteins, plant proteins are separated. Physically, vegan cheese can be less sharp and have slightly less flavor because plant proteins don’t bond to one another like animal proteins do.


To see what actually goes on in a vegan cheese factory, check out this video below of Miyoko's, a popular dairy-free brand that makes cheeses and butters.


So now you know a little bit about how cheese is made. But what are all the ingredients in it? To make it simple, take a look at the ingredients below from my favorite brand of vegan cheese- Daiya.



Just like dairy cheese, you may prefer one brand over another. If you are not pleased with one kind of vegan cheese, don’t be discouraged. Try another brand. The first time I had vegan cheese I didn’t care for it. But then I found a brand I liked- Daiya! Each brand has a little different texture, flavor, and melting consistency- so just experiment a little to see what you like. Besides Daiya, I enjoy Follow Your Heart and Tofutti.





 

Neat Meat


Just like cheese, different plant-based meat alternative companies have different processing methods and ingredients. When dealing with burgers, there are soy-based burgers, bean burgers, and burgers with pea protein as a main ingredient- which is the case for Beyond burgers. Burgers that are classified as “veggie burgers” or “black bean burgers” taste more like how they sound. They’re good, but they’re not the same taste or texture as animal-based burgers. On the other hand, plant-based burgers like Impossible and Beyond are very close to actual animal-based burgers in their taste, texture, and how they are cooked. I would not recommend one kind over the other simply because I like them all and I switch back and forth based on my mood.


So, how are vegan burgers made?


The CEO of Beyond Meat discusses Beyond patties by stating that it’s easier to think of them as meat because the composition is the same as animal-based meat. For instance, he states that animal-based meat is made of amino acids, lipids, trace minerals, vitamins, and water. When eating Beyond Meat, you are eating the same thing. The only difference is all of those components are plant-based. To see more about Beyond Meat, watch the 3 minute video below!



Besides Beyond Meat, Impossible has also been very successful with their plant-based meats closely resembling meat burgers. To try an Impossible burger, you can either get them at your local grocery store or you can order the Impossible Whopper at Burger King (if you want it vegan, get it without mayo). Not all grocery stores keep plant-based meats in the same area. Some stores it will be near the animal-based meats and other stores it will be in the vegetarian cooler or frozen section. To see how Impossible meat is made, watch the 2 minute video below!


Of course there are more plant-based meat options besides burgers. There’s chicken, fish, brats, sausage, and pork. Common ingredients for these items are pea protein, soy, wheat, grains, water, flour, and millet. My favorite brand is Gardein because of the wide selection, taste, price, and quality. Even Beyond Meat has 3 flavors of sausages, breakfast sausages and patties, beefless crumbles, and meatballs. See them here!


Spaghetti with Gardein Meatless Meatballs
 

What’s the Benefit of Vegan Cheeses and Vegan Meats?

  • It is better for the planet

  • Animal agriculture accounts for almost 15% of greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to climate change and therefore the extinction of species, disruption of migration patterns, and changes in animal behaviors and interactions.

  • Methane, which is released from cows, is worse than CO2 (both are greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change) because it is better at trapping in heat. When methane is released it goes into the troposphere (the closest part of the atmosphere to our planet) and causes our climates to change.

  • Many vegan cheese brands are very allergy friendly.

  • They are a healthy alternative to dairy-based cheeses.

  • Less land is used since there is no need for animal agriculture.

  • Inexpensive.


 

References






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