For almost all food lovers, cheese is usually at the pinnacle of taste, flavour and texture. While having pizzas, pasta, salads, mac-and-cheese, and sandwiches, one ingredient everyone craves for is the gooey texture and buttery flavour of cheese. Having said that, there has been a shift in consumer behaviour over the last few years. People are progressively adopting a vegan diet, particularly after the pandemic woke them to the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. As it is a cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and health-conscious option, veganism is gaining popularity owing to greater consumer awareness.
But, for most people, the deciding factor for becoming a vegan boils down to - do we have to give up cheese? The simple answer would be - NO. Today, we have a range of vegan cheese available in the market. However, most people get confused between vegetarian and vegan cheese. Let's dive a little deep to understand the difference.
Vegetarian Cheese Versus Vegan Cheese:
Essentially, vegetarian cheese is made from milk. It could be from milk produced by cows, sheep, buffaloes, or goats. Vegetarians consume products derived from animals, but not the animals themselves. It all comes down to whether the cheese is made from milk and uses plant-based rennet. Since most hard cheese like parmesan, cheddar, and manchego use animal rennet, it is important to check the labels to identify vegetarian cheese.
On the other hand, vegans do not consume any products derived from animals. Primarily, they have plant-based diets. Therefore, vegan cheese is made from vegetable proteins and has zero animal-derived ingredients. Typical ingredients include soy, nuts such as cashews and macadamias, and vegetable oils such as coconut oil. Like traditional cheese, vegan cheese comes in a variety of flavours.
Is Vegan Cheese A Mindful Choice?
Vegetarian or milk-based cheese is subjected to scrutiny time and again. Since it involves mass animal agriculture, cows and other dairy animals are usually subjected to harsh practices. As a result, opting for vegan cheese is a conscious and mindful choice. It eliminates animal cruelty.
Additionally, it is a great alternative for lactose-intolerant individuals. Most vegan cheese options are free of lactose and casein since they are manufactured with a gluten-free flour such as almond or tapioca flour. In addition to its benefits for those who are lactose intolerant, a lot of vegan cheese assortments have incredible nutritional benefits. Adding protein-rich plant-based cheese could be the right choice for a healthy and well-balanced diet.
It might come as a welcoming surprise, but vegans have various delectable and nutritious cheese options available today. Recently turned vegans or those planning to adopt veganism no longer have to let go of their favourite cheese varieties. All you need is to do a little research and check the labels whether the cheese is non-vegetarian, vegetarian, or vegan to make the right pick.
Author's Bio: Jasmine Bharucha is the founder at Katharos Vegan Cheeses
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