Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Aaron
Are you vegan or lactose intolerant but still love cream cheese? Good news, you don’t have to miss out on this creamy, tangy spread anymore. Vegan cream cheese has come a long way from its humble beginnings and now there are many delicious options to choose from.
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What is Vegan Cream Cheese?
Vegan cream cheese is a plant-based alternative to traditional cream cheese made from animal milk. The most common base for vegan cream cheese is usually soy, cashews, or almonds, but other nuts and seeds like macadamia, sunflower, and hemp can also be used.
Vegan cream cheese is made by blending these plant-based ingredients with water, salt, and other flavorings like lemon juice, garlic, and herbs to create a creamy spreadable texture.
How Does Vegan Cream Cheese Compare to Regular Cream Cheese?
When it comes to taste and texture, vegan cream cheese is fairly similar to regular cream cheese. However, there are some differences worth noting. Vegan cream cheese is usually lower in fat and calories compared to regular cream cheese, which can be beneficial for those watching their weight. It is also free of cholesterol and lactose, making it a great option for those with dietary restrictions or health concerns. On the other hand, regular cream cheese contains more protein, calcium, and vitamin D compared to vegan cream cheese. Thus, many vegan products will be fortified with B12 or calcium to bring it more in line nutritionally.
Depending on the ingredients used and the manufacturing process, some brands of vegan cream cheese may have a slightly gritty or grainy or thicker texture, which is different from the smooth and velvety texture of traditional cream cheese. This is because vegan cream cheese is typically made with nut or seed bases, which can result in a slightly thicker and grainier texture compared to dairy-based cream cheese.
However, some brands have been able to achieve a smooth and creamy texture through different manufacturing techniques, such as using a higher percentage of fat or blending the ingredients for a longer period of time. Ultimately, the texture of vegan cream cheese will vary from brand to brand, so it’s worth trying a few different options to find one that meets your preferences.
In spite of that, many people can pretty much tell the taste differences right away. The taste of vegan cream cheese may not taste exactly like its regular dairy counterpart, and it can vary depending on the brand and flavor, but in general, it has a tangy, slightly sour taste that is similar to traditional cream cheese. Some will have a mild coconut aftertaste or even sharp sour flavor. The level of tanginess can vary from brand to brand and some may have a more pronounced flavor than others.
Vegan cream cheese also tends to be less salty than traditional cream cheese, which some people prefer. Some brands offer different flavors, such as chive and onion or garlic herb, which can add a savory, herby note to the cream cheese.
Vegan Cream Cheese Brands and Taste
There are many brands of vegan cream cheese on the market, each with their own unique flavors, textures, and ingredients. Whether you’re looking for a soy-based cream cheese or one made with cashews or almonds, there’s a brand out there for you.
We covered many popular brands in our previous discussion in this article. Some brands, like Kite Hill and Miyoko’s, are known for their artisanal vegan cheeses and offer a range of flavors to choose from.
Others, like Tofutti and Follow Your Heart, have been around for decades and offer reliable options for those looking for a quick and easy substitute for traditional cream cheese. No matter what brand you choose, vegan cream cheese is a delicious and versatile alternative that can be used in a variety of recipes, from dips and spreads to desserts and baked goods.
Additionally, cream cheese giant Philadelphia has launched its non-dairy spread that’s made with coconut oil and faba bean protein among other ingredients. You can find it now in Target and several other retail stores in the United States. You can also find the almost-oat-based cream cheese in Tesco in the UK.