The Ultimate Guide to Palm-Oil Free, Vegan Cheese
“I would go vegan, but I love cheese too much” is a common phrase heard among people that are grappling with the idea of becoming full-fledged plant-based eaters. Believe me, I’ve had a hard time thinking that I could give up cheese since I’ve started on the vegan journey myself. But after a bunch of research and talking to friends that are on the same path, the biggest discovery I’ve made as of late is that there are so many options for cheese.
Most vegan cheese companies use various nut milks — mostly cashew — to substitute the dairy that is found in the cheesemaking process. The fermentation process for dairy milk versus nut milk is almost exactly the same, too. The best part about most of these cheeses is that they can be found in a plethora of stores such as Natural Grocer, Whole Foods, and co-ops in and around major cities. But the kicker is that many of the ones listed below have online shipping options as well, so you can try all of these in the comfort of your own home without having to go on a wild goose chase for a deliciously cheesy and palm-free alternative.
👀 *Ingredients to look for 👀
palm oil, vegetable oil, glycerin, vitamin A palmitate
Seattle-based vegan sausage company, Field Roast, started making their Chao Creamery cheeses in 2003. Since then, they’ve expanded their products and have now become the first “vegan sausage and cheese” line. Chao uses a process of fermenting tofu that’s known in Asian cultures as a sort of cheese. They’re best known for their cheddar slices that are ideal for deli and grilled cheese sandwiches. Find where to buy Chao here.
Brooklyn-based Dr. Cow Cheeses make non-GMO, raw cheeses that are focused on aged and soft varieties using cashew, almond, and macadamia nuts. The small batch company aligns on their philosophy by working to be as sustainable as possible for the environment and our bodies. Their products can be found online in select grocers in California, Florida, and New York.
Probably the most well-known out of the bunch, California-based company Follow Your Heart is best known for their mayonnaise alternative, Veganaise. They cover the spectrum of vegan alternatives from dips and spreads to dressings and especially cheeses, which come in slices, blocks, and shreds. Favorites include the smoked gouda and garden herb slices. Stop by their natural food eatery in California or find your nearest retailer via their store locator.
*Note: Their shredded and parmesan varieties are not palm-oil free.
Portland-based Heidi Ho is a mission-driven company focused on creating the best plant-based cheeses that are healthy for both body and planet. They work with local and organic farms for all of their ingredients. Heidi Ho is known for their Chia Cheezes that are comprised of organic vegetable purees, nuts, and chia seeds. Available nationwide, try their Ne Chevre and their Smoky Chia Cheeze, which is great in potatoes au gratin!
This California-based company focuses on sourcing the best ingredients for a plant-based cheese that is not only environmentally friendly but also delicious. Along with their artisanal cheeses like ricotta, they offer an original cream cheese and chive cream cheese style spreads that are perfect with a morning bagel and coffee. Find retailers here.
After becoming vegetarian at the age of 12, Miyoko Schinner continued the journey to veganism later on in life. She did so while publishing cookbooks focused on her vegan lifestyle (The Now and Zen Epicure and Artisan Vegan Cheese) and opening a restaurant/bakery that has since morphed into Miyoko’s Kitchen, which focuses on manufacturing healthy and plant-based foods. Their Fairfax, California hub has been churning out plenty of cheeses and are best known for their VeganMozz that is reminiscent of traditional buffalo mozzarella. They can be found online and in wholesale and smaller grocers.
Parmela Creamery’s makes nut milk cheeses using traditional cheese-making methods. It took over 2 years and 2,000 iterations to perfect their Creamy Treenut Cheese — you can say that they’re pretty serious about their cheese making process! They have a plethora of products besides the Creamy Treenut Cheese. Try out their aged nut milk cheeses like the Parmela Blue or ripened almond milk cheeses like Rosemary & Thyme. They also have delicious palm-oil free nacho cheeses and Alfredo sauces.
Minnesota-based Punk Rawk Labs is owned and operated by three women (ya girl power!) — a scientist-turned raw chef, a nutritionist, and a former record store owner. Together, they focus on healthy eating and the process of fermenting nut milk into delicious cheeses with flavors like cashew herb, nacho, and cashew of the woods (flavored with a plethora of mushrooms). They can be found online and at various grocer locations in the U.S.
Based out of lush Hudson Valley in upstate New York, Treeline is available in over 2,300 stores nationwide, from neighborhood bodegas to national supermarkets and co-ops. They focus on cashew milk cheeses with processes such as soft French-style cheeses to aged hard cheeses like their popular aged cracked pepper flavor.
Violife has graced us with some deliciously delectable cheeses from the gods by way of Greece. Since the 90s, they’ve focused on non-GMO, dairy-free, vegan cheeses to satiate the craving of traditional dairy cheeses. Their products cover the spectrum, including slices, blocks, grated, and creamy varieties. Violife is available at bigger grocery stores like Whole Foods and Tesco, along with smaller stores in Maryland, California, and New York. Bonus: They offer delicious recipes to make with their products.