With plant-based milks on the increase and many people ditching dairy altogether, the food industry has seen a large rise in the number of dairy-free cheese brands over the past couple of years. According to one recent survey from Blue Diamond Almonds, one in five Britons planned to ‘ditch dairy’ in 2018. This is a startling statistic, which is being fuelled by the rise in vegan diets as well as those opting to go ‘free from’. This pattern is mirrored throughout much of Western Europe and the US and shows no sign of levelling off yet.
This change in the food industry has also seen an increase in the
popularity of vegan food festivals. I had the pleasure of attending the 100%
vegan festival ‘VegFest’ this year in London, along with around 14,500 other attendees. It takes place over the course of three days and
visitors can discover new brands, say hello to the brands they already know and
love, buy their favourite products and spend the day trying samples of various
vegan foods or full meals with friends. Considering there are now 3.5 million
vegans in Great Britain alone it was no surprise that VegFest was a little
busier than it was in 2017. However, the biggest thing that stood out to me was
the number of vegan cheese stalls.
In 2017 the
only plant-based cheese I knew about was Violife. A brand that makes
cheddar-like cheese from coconut oil, starch and flavourings, well known in the
wider world due to their branding and marketing. Despite being the most popular
brand of vegan cheese, already stocked in all the big UK supermarkets, for me
the product itself was just lacking a little something. It didn’t melt quite as
well as I wanted it to, and the starch content made it quite rubbery in
isn’t about depriving yourself of the finer things in life, I still crave a
cheese that delivers indulgence with complex flavour notes that, importantly,
tastes like cheese!
later, VegFest was bursting with countless new brands. Gone are the uninspiring
blocks of beige, instead welcome camembert, ricotta, mozzarella, cream cheese,
cheddar… the list goes on! And best of all? A lot of the cheeses actually
melted, properly. My favourite melting cheeses were the ‘Green Goddess Basil
Moxarella’ from Black Arts Vegan, and the ‘Mozzarella Style Grated
Sheese’ by Bute Island that features on One Planet Pizza’s vegan
pizza – my favourite.
was another brand that I came across; interestingly, they make their cheeses in
the same way as the dairy variety, using cashew milk instead of animals’,
resulting in a product that looks identical, and even better tastes extremely
similar to, dairy cheese. I tried their ricotta and camembert, bagging one of
each to take home and devour later. The ricotta was creamy, spread easily and
tasted incredible. It even got a thumbs up from someone who does eat dairy
cheese, which can only be a good sign! Their camembert had the skin around it
that you’d expect, the texture was just like dairy-cheese, and I found myself
ordering more once I’d finished it.
You can see
the excitement on people’s faces when they find a dairy-free cheese that melts,
tastes like dairy or is in the style of a cheese we’re all familiar with. Being
one of the things people find most difficult to give up when deciding to ditch
dairy, this rise in variety and development in texture and taste is brilliant
news for those switching to a diet closer to plant-based, and exciting news for
brands looking to play in this area.
excited for VegFest 2019 and all the new vegan innovations that will be
available by then!