It’s 2020 and let’s admit it, vegan cheese has come a loooong way.
There’s no denying the ever-increasing popularity for vegan cheese, whether you’re already a vegan, or a dairy cheese-lover wanting to cut down, now more than ever there’s a range of vegan cheese to meet our needs.
I purchased all these cheeses from Good Rebel Vegan, a vegan grocer in Toronto, however, you can find most of these cheeses in various grocery stores, some even have their own websites to purchase from directly who deliver. I’m a one stop shop kind of gal, so I like that Good Rebel has SO many types of cheeses to choose from.
When I was deciding which cheeses to choose from I wanted cheeses that would be suitable for a charcuterie board. That meant getting a:
- variety of different types and colours of cheeses i.e. cheddar, goat, mozzarella
- different textures i.e. slices, firm block, soft
- could be eaten with a variety of crackers, breads, fruits and vegetables
- good balance of flavour and aroma i.e. light, strong, sharp
The 5 cheeses I reviewed all meet the above criteria and created the most synergistic charcuterie board. Ever.
Full disclaimer: I have good but sometimes weird taste buds. I haven’t tried a single fruit or vegetable I didn’t like and I definitely have an ‘acquired’ pallet. Meaning, I have an appreciation for foods unlikely to be enjoyed by a person who has the taste buds of a 5-year old aka my husband. These reviews of the vegan cheeses are based on my own taste buds and opinion which may differ from yours. I ate these charcuterie boards with my sister and husband and we each had our own, and completely different, order of ranking these cheeses.
I purchased all of these cheeses with my own money and am simply sharing my honest feedback.
1. Emborg – Mozzarella Slices
Before going vegan, mozzarella cheese slices were one of the only cheeses I would buy and eat. I always bought my cheese from the deli section of the supermarkets and had the deli slice me fresh mozzarella slices. I am actually a huge fan of the emborg mozzarella slices and they are the closest vegan cheese that reminds me of my ‘real mozzarella’ days. I can eat the entire container in less than 5 minutes (that’s with me trying to savour and slow down). I’ve seen Sobeys and Longos carry Emborg and it is also very reasonably priced. Earth Island and Chao sliced cheese are close runners up.
Base: starches (potato, tapioca, corn)
Taste: fresh with a slightly lactic taste
Mouthfeel: smooth and satiny
Colour: bright white (I wish the colour was a bit less bright white to make it look more authentic)
Pairs well with… sandwiches, burgers, crackers, by itself
2. The Frauxmagerie on Georgian Bay – Botanic Camembert
I love this camembert. Want to know something funny? Before going vegan I had actually never heard of ‘camembert’ cheese before. I was never a huge cheese eater and to be honest the mould would have thrown me off. But when you introduce a vegan version? I’ll be the first in line to try. I have tried other vegan camembert before and did NOT like them. I can confidently say this one IS the best and it is so so beautiful on a cheese board. It’s so photogenic and most people cannot believe it is vegan. It’s a real crowd pleaser by being so ‘different’ and has that ‘wow factor’ so I usually get it during the holidays or when I am hosting people over. This camembert cheese has a mild but rich, buttery flavour with a firm texture. It’s bloomy rind is totally edible and adds texture and flavour to the cheese as well.
Taste: mild, rich, buttery
Mouthfeel: firm and creamy
Pairs well with… crackers, baguette, fruits and nuts
3. Vegnature – nuts and cranberries
This is one of my favourite go-to cheeses. It is so versatile and tastes amazing. This was one of the first vegan cheeses I tried that I actually liked! I remember first trying this at the vegandale festival and bought 3 of them because they were so good. I have tried all their flavours and always come back to the nuts and cranberries. The nuts and cranberries provide crunchy and chewy texture and sweetness. It is also covered in chives so it has an onion-y flavour too. This cheese resembles a ‘goat cheese’ and also looks authentic by being in a log shape. The texture is spot on and the taste is similar yet I find it milder, which I actually prefer. You know how real goat cheese can have that very pungent, ‘barnyard’ taste, this one does not have that, yay!
Taste: mild, tart
Pairs well with… crackers, bread, salads, baked goods
4. Stokes – Sharp Cheddar
This was my first time trying Stokes sharp cheddar. Previously I had tried their vegan feta, which I enjoyed, so I was excited to try other flavours. I liked this cheese because the bright orange colour looked very appealing on a charcuterie board and it packed a VERY flavourful punch. Now ‘sharp’ in the ‘real’ cheese world indicates how cheddar changes in flavor and texture as it ages. When cheddar ages it’s flavours become deeper and tangier and its texture becomes harder. Stokes sharp cheddar is true to its flavor profile by being tangy and pungent, but its texture was a bit off. The cheeses’ texture was soft and crumbly, not like a true sharp cheddar which is more firm and hard. I knew what the texture was going to be like before purchasing, so that is not a deal breaker for me. I also want to be completely transparent and include that my picky husband has VERY mild taste buds and he did not like this cheese, but my sister and I really enjoyed it. This cheese is an acquired taste and would pair wonderfully with some crackers and a glass of Pinot Noir. I really want to try their smoked gouda cheese next!
Base: cashew and soy yogurt
Taste: bold, sharp, piquant
Mouthfeel: creamy and crumbly
Pairs well with… crackers, wine (I haven’t tried yet but I think this would taste good dolloped on pizza too!)
5. Pulse Kitchen – Creamy Almond Chevre
I had never heard of Pulse Kitchen until I stumbled upon them on Good Rebel vegan’s website and they are made in BC. I took an expensive gamble on this cheese, not knowing if it would be good or not because I couldn’t find any reviews online. Turns out this was my personal favourite cheese out of all of them. The word ‘chevre’ in french means goat so this was supposed to resemble a ‘goat cheese’. When I first opened it I was surprised at the texture as I thought it would be more soft but I was pleasantly surprised it held its shape yet was still very creamy and smooth. It also had a very mild taste with a touch of acidity from the lemon juice. I am a sucker for tang so this was why I enjoyed this cheese the most but full disclosure my sister liked this one the least. I was mind-boggled by her comment when she said ‘it just has an off taste to me’, it might have been the acidity but I like SERIOUSLY loved this cheese. Out of all the cheeses I fully devoured this one in its entirety and would not let my husband have the last bite when he tried to grab for it. Ps. This cheese is an excellent dessert cheese and pairs wonderfully stuffed inside a date topped with a drizzle of coconut nectar or honey (if not strict vegan) was AMAZING. You’re welcome.
Base: almond, lemon juice, chickpea miso
Taste: tangy and acidic
Mouthfeel: creamy and smooth
Pairs well with… dessert, crackers, dates, fruit, bread, alcohol