I grew up in Luxembourg and lived in Paris for a long time. The reason why I am telling you this is because it’s supposed to be code for “I grew up eating cheese every single day, multiple times a day, preferably after every meal–and in between.” Maybe it wasn’t quite that extreme but the truth is cheese was an integral part of my diet, and I spent countless hours at local cheese mongeurs with my mom, picking up bags of cheeses and trying to figure out what bread and jams would pair best with them.
When I became vegan, pretty much my only regret was cheese. Although I had been lactose intolerant for a while before, and my body clearly rejected dairy, I was kind of nostalgic thinking I would never again eat a piece of aged Brie on fresh crispy French baguette on a Spring day sitting in a park (yes because that’s what we Europeans just do all the time ;)).
Well, that nostalgia ended when I discovered Riverdel, the latest plant-cheese store based in Brooklyn, and its fantastic offerings of nut based cheeses. I never thought I would say this, but after I tried their selection of cheeses for the first time, I felt like I never ever need dairy cheeses again; their flavor profiles are so complex and their notes so deep that your palate will probably go nuts (see what I did here ;)) of excitement!
While you may be familiar with the more mainstream, highly processed vegan cheeses found at the grocery store, these artisanal vegan cheeses are a bit different. Cheese makers involved in small-batch or handmade vegan cheeses tend to rely more on traditional cheese aging processes and bacteria culturing methods (even though they’re not working with traditional cheese ingredients–i.e., dairy!). These thoughtfully made vegan cheeses often have fewer ingredients than their more processed counterparts; their ingredients list may be limited to just a few (pronounceable!) things like nuts/nut milks, enzymes, and salt–but that doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious!
Have a look below at my top 3 favorite vegan cheeses (you can buy all of them at Riverdel or order them online on the producer’s site):
1. Aged English smoked Farmhouse from Myioko
This cheese is deep, rich and smoky. So incredibly smoky! Miyoko is a California-based company that makes 10 different flavors (herbs de Provence, truffle and fig leaf being just a couple examples) as well as plant-based butter and mozzarella. The company is one of the first to start producing artisan non-dairy cheeses.
2. Billy from Riverdel
Billy is made by Riverdel and comes in different flavors, including the pepper one, which is my favorite. This cheese is cashew based and really reminds me of a traditional chèvre. It pairs well with a light wine or pale beer on a smoky charcoal cracker.
3. Camembert from Vtopian
This cheese is pure creaminess. It’s macadamia-based, which makes it incredibly rich and a little sweet. It goes so well with a dry white wine and a simple piece of fresh baguette. Vtopian is an Oregon-based company excelling at unique creations such as mapled seitan cheeseballs and dark chocolate strawberries.
As you can see, this is only the beginning and there are so many more delicious plant-based cheeses out there. I hope put you in the mood for some gourmet vegan cheese!
What are you favorite artisanal vegan cheeses?
Also by Isabelle: 6 Bulletproof Steps for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
More Cheesy Vegan Goodness: The Next Big Thing: Artisinal Vegan Cheese
Get more like this—Subscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!
Pictures: Store front by Riverdel, cheeses by Isabelle Steichen