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ROAD TEST: I ate 7 different vegan cheeses in 7 days to find out which ones are the best.

Cheese is one of those things people get so addicted to, they say it’s better than sex.

Heck, I’d agree some cheeses are tasty enough to make you do a full Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally while biting into a slice of pizza. Now, I’m 18 months into being vegan, so you’re probably wondering how someone like me, a cheese lover, could go without it.

One of the reasons I don’t eat cheese anymore is because I’m lactose intolerant. But I know I’m not alone when I say I used to shovel grated cheese into my mouth with a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude. But she was not alright.

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Hence, my search for the cheesiest vegan cheese began.

While the vegan movement was slow going through the early 2000s and 2010s, it seems to have picked up the pace recently. There’s never been more great vegan food options out there, including our beloved cheese.

Being a self-proclaimed cheese connoisseur, I put my taste buds to the test to see which vegan cheeses are tasty, easy to cook with and worth buying.

1. Dairy Free Down Under Shredded Mozzarella.

best vegan cheese
Dairy Free Down Under Shredded Mozzarella. Image: Supplied
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best vegan cheese
My pizza. Image: Supplied.

Price: $7.50.

Made of: Soy.

Verdict:

I’ve trusted this brand for their yummy aioli and long-lasting sour cream, so I wanted to try their cheese under heat.

I made a fake lamb yiros-style pizza with textured vegetable protein (TVP), chips and homemade dairy-free tzatziki. The cheese didn’t look melted and stayed in its shape which was disappointing, but once I bit into it, it was melted? It stayed in form but the inside was gooey – a weird but nice surprise.

Flavour was subtle but it wasn’t quite on the mozzarella mark. For the amount you get, I’d probably buy a block and shred it myself, but it has a good shelf life.

Cheese factor: 3 out of 5.

2. Green Vie Gouda Block.

best vegan cheese
The Green Vie Gouda Block cheese (on the right) looks cheesier than the left, no?. Image: Supplied.
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best vegan cheese
The finished product. Image: Supplied

Price: $6.50.

Made of: Coconut.

Verdict:

I actually bought this for a cheese platter but the packet said it melts well, so I put it to the test and grated it for my next pizza experiment. Topped with eggplant, capsicum, mushrooms and fresh basil, this cheese melted like I never expected it to.

The gouda flavour worked well on pizza and I was loving how it fully melted without compromising flavour. One of the better blocks of cheese I’ve had so far, plus it goes a long way when you get a block.

Green Vie has other flavours like their award-winning mozzarella, cheddar, an actual pizza flavour, haloumi and more – I’ll be on the hunt for those on my next shop!

Cheese factor: 4.5 out of 5.

3. Dairy Free Down Under Cashew Parmesan.

best vegan cheese
Dairy Free Down Under Cashew Parmesan. Image: Supplied
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Can you tell I like it? Image: Supplied.

Price: Around $6.

Made of: Raw Cashew, Yeast Flakes.

Verdict:

I used to be obsessed with drowning my pasta in parmesan, so finding a dairy-free alternative means my standards are high.

Having just made a fresh batch of rose sauce with my secret cashew concoction (that makes it creamy), I thought it was fitting to sprinkle the cashew parmesan on top. Boy, was it good! It tasted delicious, salty enough and close to parmesan – so it ticked the right boxes for me – plus you can freeze it to increase its shelf life, win!

Cheese factor: 4 out of 5.

4. Mayers Mozzarella Block.

best vegan cheese
Mayers Mozzarella Block grated on my pasta. Image: Supplied
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best vegan cheese
Here's some more of it. Image: Supplied.
best vegan cheese
And some more. Image: Supplied.
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best vegan cheese
MORE. Image: Supplied.
UGGGGGHHHHHH. Image: Supplied.
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Price: Around $7.

Made of: Coconut.

Verdict: 

This has been a favourite of mine since I became vegan; to me, this tastes more like mozzarella than anything, especially on top of pasta or my famous vegan moussaka.

Actually, I’ve shredded it on eggplant lasagna, baked sweet potato and eggplant parmigiana too and loved it!

While it doesn’t look ‘melted’ so to speak, the flavour and melt factor is definitely there. For the price, shelf life and size, I’m pretty happy with spending more on this block as it’s value for money.

Isn’t it great that vegan cheese doesn’t go off as quickly as dairy cheese does?

Cheese factor: 4 out of 5.

5. Bio Cheese Cheddar Slices.

best vegan cheese
Bio Cheese Cheddar Slices on my burger. Image: Supplied.

Price: $6.40.

Made of: Coconut.

Verdict:

One of the more accessible brands that have popped up on our supermarket shelves, Bio Cheese is the gateway to vegan cheese for most – but it can quickly turn people off.

I prefer their cheddar style slices on things that demand big flavour, like burgers or toasties, but I wouldn’t recommend it all the time.

The flavour is powerful and though it melts rather well, the texture isn’t quite cheesy 100 per cent of the time. They offer cheddar and pizza flavour shredded cheese but I’m yet to try – maybe when it’s on special at Coles or Woolies.

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Cheese factor: 2.5 out of 5.

6. Dairy Free Down Under Cheddar Style Slices.

best vegan cheese
Dairy Free Down Under Cheddar Style Slices. Image: Supplied

Price: Around $8.

Made of: Almonds.

Verdict:

I know, I know, another DFDU, but there are so many products! I was eager to compare these slices to the Bio Cheese, so I popped it in a toastie and to my delight it wasn’t as full on in flavour as the previous cheese.

Again, it's cheddar so there will always be a particular flavour that some people don’t enjoy. I would use these slices on burgers, hot dogs, basically anything with fake meat to bring an extra layer of flavour, plus the melt factor wasn’t too bad.

Their shelf life is insane, plus you know almonds are healthy right?

Cheese factor: 3 out of 5.

7. Wellness Road Nutritional Yeast Flakes.

best vegan cheese
Nutritional Yeast. Image: Supplied
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Price: $8 for 200g.

Made of: Inactive Yeast, B Vitamins, Folic Acid.

Verdict:

Ahh nutritional yeast, it’s a vegan go-to and should be an item in every household IMO. Not only is it good for you, it has this beautiful salty flavour that adds depth and a finishing touch to a lot of dishes, vegan or otherwise.

It’s fantastic to use in your cooking or as a garnish – it’s particularly popular as a parmesan substitute. When in doubt, use nutritional yeast!

Though it doesn’t melt and isn’t considered vegan cheese, it’s used by many as a healthy, cheap alternative. Be careful, you only need a pinch to get the full flavour, meaning it’s cost-effective and has a better shelf life than any cheese out there.

Cheese factor: 3 out of 5.

So, what is the best vegan cheese?

Trying and buying vegan cheese can be a costly and frustrating experience, usually because you don’t know if it’s good or not until you bite into your food. Most of the brands above also aren't available at the supermarket - you need to order them online or purchase from speciality stores.

For me, the Green Vie Gouda was the clear winner and I was happy to know my money didn’t go to waste; I’ll be trying their brand again as the range is extensive and the melt factor was on point.

Though Dairy Free Down Under is a strong contender, there are some inconsistencies but at the end of the day everyone’s taste buds are different, so what I might not enjoy someone else may love.

Other notable brands that have pretty good flavour and melt factors are Daiya and Follow Your Heart.

The best part about this experiment is that vegan cheeses are becoming closer to the real thing than ever before, meaning we can steer away from dairy (whether you’re vegan or lactose intolerant), and still enjoy that melty, salty goodness.

And if you're not vegan, maybe this has convinced you to give one of these cheeses a chance on your next pizza?

Feature image: Supplied/@alexia.eleni.

Do you have a great vegan cheese recommendation? Tell us in the comments below.

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