Reviews of 10 vegan cheese alternatives

I recently bragged that I would be sampling many vegan cheese alternatives. So I went ahead and ordered entire boxes full of different vegan cheeses. This is the selection:

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From top left to bottom right:

  1. Sheese Smoked Cheddar Style
  2. Sheese Blue Style
  3. Violife Cheese Slices Cheddar
  4. Violife Cheese Slices Smoked
  5. No-Moo Blue Classic (German: No-Muh Blue Classic)
  6. No-Moo Herbs (German: No-Muh Kräuter)
  7. No-Moo Piquant (German: No-Muh Rezent, not pictured)
  8. No-Moo Mild-aromatic (German: No-Muh Dezent, not pictured)
  9. Wilmersburger slices mushroom
  10. Wilmersburger wedge strong
  11. Wilmersburger wedge herbs

Read on to find out what I think about each of them.

The stores

I’m quite thankful that there are good online stores for vegetarian and vegan products now in Switzerland. If you’re limited to just brick and mortar stores, the selection of vegan cheeses is really bad, even in larger cities like Zürich. Sometimes you find an organic store somewhere out in the country that has a good hand-picked stock, but it’s not what I’d call a big selection.

It turns out that once I started looking at online stores and mail-order, there’s a lot I didn’t know: I wasn’t aware that Vegusto has existed for almost 20 years now and that they are one of the world’s best producers of vegan cheese alternatives (among other things). They ship all over Europe.

There’s a also a new contender for the vegan/vegetarian products crown: Fabulous. They seem to ship only to Switzerland at this time.

The Vegusto order took only one day to get here, the Fabulous one two. Packaging was adequate for both: no silly packing material, the package size was chosen so there’s very little air. Vegan cheeses are a lot more weather-resistant than animal products, but if you’re worried, both shops offer to place cool packs in their packages.

Both stores also carry other products, such as chocolate, dried fruit, egg replacer, even faux fish products or vegan foie gras.

The Fabulous order included this:

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Whereas the Vegusto order contained a whole bunch of product leaflets and recipes, an order card and a postcard (not pictured):

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The leaflets might be annoying if they’re included with every order. I think they noticed I’m a first-time customer and included them just to make me aware of what else they offer, and I’m glad they did, because they seem to have “cheese” sauce that develops a nice brown crust and they even dared to create a vegan alternative to Switzerland’s holy fondue, which will be the subject of some future review.

Vegusto exports many of their products to the EU and also has dedicated country shops in France, Sweden, Italy and the UK.

But here we go with the reviews:

Vegusto No-Moo Piquant (No-Muh Rezent)

This was the first vegan cheese alternative I tried after nearly 13 years of “normal” cheese, and wow, I thought I’d already hit the jackpot. This stuff is delicious.

On the right it’s pictured with Vegusto’s own smoked sandwich slices. They are fabulous as well, by the way, but that’s for another post.

Taste and smell

Opening the package I noticed a strong oniony, garlicky aroma and I admit that I was prejudiced and disappointed. I thought they’d just blended some almonds and garlic into a paste and that eating this would feel like eating garlic bread. But no, it didn’t. There is a strong taste, it’s not called piquant for nothing, but it’s not dominating everything else. I’d say it tastes like the tough cheese that accumulates at bottom of the caquelon in a very garlicky and very white-winey fondue.

After my first bite I thought I’d be regretting this and running around with a garlic mouth for hours, burping horrible chemical fumes. But that wasn’t the case. While the garlic is pungent, it’s also extremely ephemeral. Just five minutes after eating a bite, there was no more aftertaste, and nothing crawled up my throat later either.

Even though the taste comes from flavoring, it doesn’t taste artificial. It’s extremely pleasant despite being very strong. In a sandwich with dried tomatoes, salad and No-Moo Piquant I could not identify this as vegan cheese. Had I not known, I would’ve said it’s garlic-flavored cow’s milk cheese.

The taste may be slightly too strong if you want something light for your salad, but that’s okay, there are other products in Vegusto’s lineup for that.

Texture

Juicy and like a slightly hard paste, but not tough to chew. It doesn’t crumble. Easy to cut, doesn’t stick to the knife much.

Ingredients

Water, vegetable oils and fats non-hydr. (coconut, sunflower oil), potato starch, yeast, rice flour, nut butter (100% almonds), rock salt, flavouring (vegetable), spices, binder (carrageen), lactic acid (vegetable).

As with all Vegusto products, no palm oil and nothing animal-tested has been used.

Verdict

8/10. The only thing preventing a 9 is that the taste is so extreme, this isn’t an everyday cheese, it’s only for when you crave a massively strong aroma.

No-Moo Herbs (No-Muh Kräuter)

Taste and smell

A light smell, almost like fresh cheese, and the herbs don’t really register strongly in the nose. The taste is similarly light and not overpowering, but here the herbs come out just fine. They taste like fresh herbs on mozzarella, for example. No bad aftertaste, no artificial aromas, as with the other No-Moo products.

Harmonizes deliciously with sweet types of bread like zopf or brioche.

Texture

More crumbly and less creamy than the No-Moo Piquant. I think they wanted to go with a slightly dry fresh-cheese texture.  Definitely not too crumbly to be enjoyable.

Ingredients

Water, vegetable oils and fats non-hydr. (coconut, sunflower oil), rice flour, potato starch, nut butter (100% almonds), herbs and herbal extracts (2.2%), yeast, rock salt, binder (carrageen), spices, rice starch, lactic acid (vegetable), herbs

As with all Vegusto products, no palm oil and nothing animal-tested has been used.

Verdict

8/10. A lighter taste than the Piquant version, but by no means bad, and the herbs steer it in a different direction.

No-Moo Blue Classic (No-Muh Blue Classic)

Taste and smell

It instantly identifies as “some blue cheese”, though I wouldn’t know which type to put it in. Gorgonzola? Roquefort? It’s something in between. No chemical smell. As with other No-Moo products, the taste doesn’t linger even though it does seem slightly artificial, or like vegetable broth.

Texture

The mouthfeel is very satisfying, slightly creamy and yet crumbly, it fill the palate and doesn’t stick.

More crumbly and less creamy than the No-Moo Piquant. This might be the result of my freezing and thawing it, though. I will have to retry with a fresh piece, even though Vegusto says their products can be frozen.

Ingredients

Water, vegetable oils and fats non-hydr. (coconut, sunflower oil), rice flour, potato starch, nut butter (100% almonds), rock salt, yeast, binder (carrageen), spices, flavouring (vegetable), rice starch, lactic acid (vegetable).

As with all Vegusto products, no palm oil and nothing animal-tested has been used.

Verdict

8/10. There is certainly a slight ghost of blue cheese here. It might get on your nerves if you overdo it, but it’s perfect combined with other ingredients on top of pasta or pizza. Does not match well with honey, even though many real blue cheeses do.

I know eating honey with vegan cheese somewhat defeats the point. To my defense, I know these honeybees personally and they are treated well, aside from being exploited. No chemicals are used except for stuff used to kill varroa destructor.

Vegusto No-Moo Mild-aromatic (No-Muh Dezent)

Taste and smell

Holy non-cow. With this product I had to double-check that I’d opened the right package and wasn’t just eating cheese. There is no chemical smell, no overpowering note of garlic like with some of the other cheeses. The taste is just as well-balanced, it tastes like a mild Gruyère. I couldn’t pick a single thing that’s wrong here. It doesn’t even grate if you eat a whole sandwich with only this non-cheese and no other ingredients.

Texture

The texture, now here I have some things to criticize. It does feel a bit more like a very thick paste instead of a cheese. You can never make it squeak when you bite off, unlike some real cheeses — it crumbles a bit instead. It’s not sand-like and you won’t be pulling particles from the back reaches of your mouth for weeks, but it’s simply not cheese either. No biggie though, it cuts nicely, spreads well and stays in shape enough so that you can make slices for sandwiches.

Ingredients

Water, vegetable oils and fats non-hydr. (coconut, sunflower oil), potato starch, fruit juice, rice flour, yeast, nut butter (100% almonds), rock salt, flavouring (vegetable), binder (carrageen), spices, antioxidant (ascorbic acid), colourants (turmeric, beta-carotene).

As with all Vegusto products, no palm oil and nothing animal-tested has been used.

Verdict

9/10. This is worthy of being called a real cheese, the best vegan cheese . I just deduct one point because the texture isn’t exactly cheeselike.

Wilmersburger sandwich slices, mushroom flavor

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At first I was a bit alarmed by the very regular cut and appearance of the slices, but then, I feel the same way when I look at real cheese slices that look like they’ve been cut with a laser. So this is purely subjective. Once I got past opening the package, things improved.

Taste and smell

Right after opening, a slightly tinny chemical smell greeted me. It could come from the “cheese” or it could be some gas pressed into the pack to increase shelf life.

The actual taste still had a chemical element, something that I’m always afraid of with vegan cheese alternatives, but the mushroom flavors managed to cover it well. In a sandwich with tomatoes, lettuce and mustard you wouldn’t notice it anymore, but then you’d also drown out the mushroom taste, so you could probably just take the plain cheese slices.

All in all not unpleasant, but some other alternatives manage to create a more interesting taste with less noticeable chemistry magic.

Texture

Dry and rubbery, crumbles slightly when bent. Melts only very slightly when chewed.

Ingredients

Water, coconut oil (22 %), modified starch, starch, dried mushrooms (1.5 %), sea salt, vegan flavors, acidity regulator: citric acid, preservative: sorbic acid, colorant: beta-carotene

Verdict

4/10. Certainly better than never eating anything cheesy at all, but the chemical flavor makes me subtract many points.

Wilmersburger plain

Taste and smell

There’s barely any smell. The taste is not unpleasant, somewhat like a creamy vegetable soup (that’s probably from the celery), but only slightly salty. This would work very well in a sandwich, though for pure cheesiness (on a slice of bread, for example) I would still prefer the No-Moo products. This has much to do with the texture, as well.

Texture

It’s at the same time rubbery and slightly crumbly, but turns creamy in the mouth. It doesn’t really behave like a cheese would, and it doesn’t have the paste-like consistency of some of the No-Moo products. To me it feels somewhat wrong, somewhat artificial. But I’m sure this could be entirely likeable when combined with other textures, maybe in a sandwich with lettuce.

Wilmersburger actually recommends this to be used as a sandwich cheese alternative, so I’m probably not too far off the mark.

Ingredients

Water, coconut oil (25 %), modified starch, starch, sea salt, vegan flavors (contain celery), acidity regulator: citric acid, preservative: sorbic acid, colorant: beta-carotene

Verdict

6/10. The chemical taste that I noticed in the sliced version with mushrooms is gone from this, so now I think it could make a competent sandwich ingredient.

Sheese Blue Style

Taste and smell

Smells like something out of a failed school chemistry experiment. Chewing it is a punishment, because the more you chew, the stronger the taste becomes, and there is nothing even remotely likeable about this taste. Also, you’ll smear this horrible paste all over the inside of your mouth, at which point your brain realizes that you’ll have to chew  this nightmarish blob and perhaps even swallow it. That’s when you panic. If you’ve already eaten anything that day, chances are it wants to come up now, because your mind has to choose between vomiting and having to digest this, with the former being the much more attractive option.

Texture

Chalk and plaster. Swallowing it is like choking on a ball of dust.

Ingredients

You don’t even want to know.

Verdict

0/10. How is this fit for human consumption?

Sheese Smoked Cheddar Style

Taste and smell

I didn’t dare to open the package because of my previous experience with Sheese products.

Texture

Who knows.

Ingredients

I really don’t care.

Verdict

Nothing. I couldn’t bring myself to try this.

Violife Cheese Slices Cheddar

This product from Greek manufacturer Viotros does nothing unexpected. And maybe that’s good.980dad_c60610ec609cc697db1894e7417dbf42.png

Taste and smell

Opening the pack of provided a pleasant surprise: no smell of chemicals. Instead there was the same faint creamy odor that you get from cow milk cheese slices. So far, so good, and better than the Wilmersburger slices.

In terms of taste, there just isn’t much. What’s there is not unpleasant, though, and I think they tried to emulate the slight sourness and blandness of North American supermarket cheddar. There is a hint of it, but no more than a hint. I had to pimp my sandwich with minced horseradish and dried tomatoes, this reduces the Violife slices to just a fatty salty but satisfying mouthfeel. Though let’s be honest: cow’s milk cheese slices of this kind don’t do much more.

Very rarely have I tasted good, flavorful sandwich slices, and this is in Switzerland, a country crazy for cheese. That this vegan cheese should provide where real cheese fails would be a small miracle.

Texture

At first it seems overly rubbery, more rubbery than Wilmersburger, but it’s at the same time non-crumbly and feels thick, creamy and slightly viscous when chewing. Between two slices of bread, the illusion of cow’s milk cheese slices is perfect.

Ingredients

Water, coconut oil (23%), modified starch, starch, sea salt, Cheddar vegan flavour, polyphenols. Colours: paprika extract, b-carotene.

Verdict

7/10. For me personally the taste lacks punch, but as an emulation of cheese sandwich slices, it’s very good. Those don’t have much punch either. Subtracting some points for the slightly too rubbery texture, but don’t be alarmed: In a sandwich this works very, very well.

Violife Cheese Slices Smoked

Taste and smell

This is very similar to the cheddar type, but with a hint of smoke flavor. The flavor isn’t really overpowering, neither in the mouth nor in the nose. Other than that, see above.

Texture

Also as with the cheddar type, still the satisfying mouthfeel, perhaps a bit drier.

Ingredients

Water, coconut oil (23%), modified starch, starch, sea salt, flavourings, smoke flavour, olive extract, colour: b-carotene, vitamin B12.

Verdict

7/10. These products are so similar that I guess it depends on whether you want that slightly smoked flavor to have a change of taste from time to time.

 

 

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