Let’s talk about vegan cheese. From pizzas to quesadillas, dips and sandwiches, and everything in between, cheese stars in many foods. You can eat it straight out of the bag (or packaging) or melt it down until it’s ooey-gooey.
That’s why you may be finding it so hard to give it up. As an SOS-free vegan, the oils and salts in cheese (not to mention the dairy) make it a no-go. Still, you miss cheese…a lot. You don’t want to break from your diet, but what do you do?
Just read this article. We’ve compiled six hacks and tips that will help you live a cheese-less life without missing it.
1. Give It up for a Good Reason
Why are you giving up dairy, oil, salt, and sugar?
Is it because you want to live a healthier life with less processed fats, carbs, and calories? Maybe you want to lose weight or safeguard your body against diseases.
You might even be in it for the animals, electing to go vegan because you disagree with the practices used to produce many common animal products and byproducts
Whatever your reasons, hone in on them. Write them down if you have to so you can visualize them. When you feel yourself wavering and craving cheese (which will surely happen at first), recount your goals and ideals. That should help you get back on track.
2. Replace It with vegan cheese
How will you ever eat your favorite dishes again if they don’t have cheese? It’s easier than you think if you’re willing to get creative.
For instance, Vegan Richa’s vegan pizza is loaded with a slew of veggies and fragrant toppings, among them basil, zucchini, white mushrooms, and bell pepper. Yes, there’s a touch of vegan cheese, but with so much flavor, you don’t even need it.
In our vegan snacks article, we shared a recipe from Serious Eats for some SOS-free vegan-friendly quesadillas. In lieu of cheese, the dish calls for sweet potato. Given that the rest of the recipe is pretty straightforward, this one little change isn’t jarring.
The same can be said of this recipe from Bon Appetit for vegan tacos. Corn tortillas are used as the base, while black beans replace the meat. With cilantro, jalapenos, soy chorizo, and onion, these still taste like tacos. Did you notice what was missing? Yes, that’s right, cheese.
3. Know the Benefits You’ll Enjoy with vegan cheese
According to lifestyle site HelloGlow.co, cutting out cheese and other dairies from your diet will do you a world of good. There is the possibility you’ll lose weight, as we discussed earlier. You might also reap these benefits:
- Fewer colds and chronic sinus infections
- Less day-to-day congestion
- Less cystic acne
- For women, less severe PMS symptoms
- Less bloating and digestive troubles
Now, is it guaranteed you’ll experience each of the above perks? Not necessarily, but just one or two of them could be enough to turn your life around.
4. Shop and Dine out Smarter
If you’re making vegan, SOS-free meals at home, it might be getting easier to ditch the cheese. What do you do when the time comes to go grocery shopping or a friend asks you out to eat?
You don’t have to say no, of course. You just have to shop and eat smarter.
If your current grocery store doesn’t offer dairy-free, SOS-free alternatives, it might be time to start shopping elsewhere. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Markets, Wegman’s, and even some Walmarts have the foods and ingredients you’re looking for to adhere to your diet, as we’ve mentioned on this blog before.
You’ll also have to research the restaurants in which you’re dining ahead of time. After all, you don’t want to be stuck eating anything but salad, right? Now’s also a great time to expand your horizons. Try that new vegan place that just opened. Your friends or family can certainly find something on the menu to enjoy, and you can stick to your cheese-free diet.
5. Make Cheese SOS-Free and Vegan
If you’ve followed the above tips and hacks and found that life just isn’t the same without cheese, you’re not without options. Just make the cheese yourself so it’s SOS-free and vegan.
Forks Over Knives’ faux Parmesan recipe is a favorite for cheese-loving SOS-free vegans. It’s made mostly of nuts yet still retains a cheesy flavor. You can also make almost any other type of cheese you know and love, such as cheese sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, and brie. If I came across any salt in the recipes I always replace it with my favorite salt substitute. Most of the time you can leave the salt out completely, it won’t make a big difference.
Most of those recipes, like the one from Forks Over Knives, feature nuts as the base for the cheese. That said, make sure you only use oil-free, sugar-free, and salt-free ingredients for your own vegan cheeses. You might have to modify some of the recipes above.
6. Take It One Day at a Time with Vegan Cheese
Listen, cutting dairy—especially cheese—out of your diet is no easy feat. For proof of that, just check out this article from Forks Over Knives. In it, pizza was found to more addictive than even ice cream and cookies according to 2017 data from the University of Michigan.
This is due to how crave-worthy salty and savory foods are. Not only that, but the cheese protein casein is tricky. It builds lengthy chain compounds known as casomorphins. These have been proven to act the same way narcotics do, connecting to certain brain receptors that make us want more and more.
Yes, narcotics, as in heroin and other drugs.
Thinking about going the whole rest of your life without cheese is a daunting task for anyone. It can also lead to diet failure if you frame it like that. Instead, break it up into chunks. Your immediate goal isn’t going to cheese-free for life, but 30 days. Then 60 days, 90 days, and so on and so forth.
Before you know it, enjoying a vegan, SOS-free, cheese-free life will become second nature.
If you’re like millions of Americans, you probably rely on cheese when you need a pick-me-up. With its high salt and fat content as well as processed ingredients, you know cheese isn’t great for you. Quitting it isn’t as easy as anticipated, though.
By finding ways to switch out cheese for vegan cheese, SOS-free ingredients, you might find you don’t miss it so much. There are plenty of nut-based cheese alternatives out there as well that taste like the real thing but without all the salts, oils, and dairy.
Above all, be patient with yourself. Giving up food like cheese you’ve eaten all your life isn’t going to be easy, but it is possible with some willpower – and vegan cheese. Good luck!